Income Distribution Inequality of
Society Reflected in Professional Baseball
August 24, 2001
One of the best measures of
the obscene and ever-growing income distribution inequality in this country
is this: in 1980 the typical CEO of a large corporation earned 40 times
what a factory worker did. By 1998, that ratio had ballooned to 419
(yes, four hundred nineteen) times. (In Great Britain, by contrast,
the ratio is still 35
times, and in Japan 20 times).
sports -- or at least major and minor league baseball -- have also
experienced such a greatly widened income gap.
In this past Sunday's New
York Times, an anthropology professor was comparing
minor league baseball during his brief career some 30 years ago to
now. One of the differences is that the current average major league
baseball salary of $2 million is more than 100 times greater than the 1967
major league average of $19,000. But most minor league players, after
adjustments for inflation, make less than what the professor and his
minor league teammates made 30 years ago.
And analogous to the way
entry level service industry jobs don't today pay a living wage (as Barbra
Ehrenreich has recently documented), in
minor league baseball:
Except for the few who
receive large signing bonuses, rookies earn so little ($900 per month)
that some depend on their parents' credit cards to get by.
So even in this professional
sport, it seems, those at the top aggrandize unto themselves such a huge
share of the available resources that there's not enough left for a living
wage for those at the bottom.