THE NFL IS CORRECT: Bruno Mars should pay to sing in a Super Bowl

Labor unions have quietly been percolating in the background trying to repair their image after several years of close scrutiny. They are trying to re-tool their public presence carefully which they unleashed shortly after their Labor Day holiday by providing their intrusive input into the upcoming NFL season of which largely consists of labor union representation. When it is wondered why Hollywood leans left no matter what the industry—music or motion pictures—it is because they are all members of an entertainment union. And within those unions progressive values are constantly espoused. I should know, the Writers Guild of America came close to representing me during the 90s on a few occasions putting me on their mailing list and I received a constant parade of pro Bill Clinton propaganda. I was also a part of a manufacturing facility around the time of the controversial Al Gore, George Bush election of 2000, and clearly the labor union was in support of Gore. Typically when speaking with these types of people I have always taken a hard-line in favor of conservatives which has most of the time been a deal killer for my projects—so I know all about discrimination against conservatives in labor unions—especially in entertainment and manufacturing.

Recently the NFL floated a proposal that their half time acts at the Super Bowl should pay them for the public exposure on such a large stage which was met with a general utterance that the football sports organization was acting greedily. Union pushback is mounting. The AFL-CIO’s Department of Professional Employees just joined the American Federation of Musicians in condemning such a plan.

“No one should ever pay to work. No organization should ever get a kickback from a worker they employ,” the labor organization said of the plan, first detailed in the Wall Street Journal. “The Department of Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, its affiliates in the entertainment industry, and the other unions, 22 in all, will stand with the AFM in condemning and will fight back against any attempts to make workers pay to perform,” the group said of the plan to convince music acts to cough up cash to play the halftime show, most likely in the form of a cut of post-show ticket sales, downloads, etc.

“It’s not like the NFL and its Super Bowl organizers don’t have any money and can’t afford to pay for halftime show performances, it’s about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of great musical entertainment and those who create it,” AFM President Ray Hair said last week. “You can find kickback schemes like this coming from unscrupulous bar and nightclub owners, but for the NFL to descend to such depths would be unconscionable.”

The dialogue against the NFL by most people—especially union leaders like that Ray Hair fellow–is wrong especially in regard to the entertainment unions who on one hand preach against greed while they force collective bargaining agreements for their players valued at millions of dollars for kids in their mid-twenties fresh out of college. Musicians who are superstars are in much the same boat and are typically young and fall hook line and sinker for the union propaganda that comes with their memberships. But they are all confused as to what creates value and who is responsible for what.

The NFL has created the value which all these parties seek to be a part. The NFL Super Bowl was created in its value by the efforts of the National Football League. Aerosmith, Prince, or any other headline acts which plays at the Super Bowl did not create the value of such a large game—it was created by the NFL owners who put a product on the field that millions of people enjoy. Players come and go, but the product of the NFL continues on season after season because the management of that product is successful. Yet the labor unions want and expect equal value for their participation—which is clearly barbaric and ignorant—if value is the measuring unit utilized. Players are not equal to owners, and halftime acts are not equal to the players which make the Superbowl such an exciting enterprise.

Most musical acts benefit from sales of their recordings after they perform for over a billion people on live television. I would argue that groups like the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith are equal to the NFL in value and should just be honored to be a part of the festivities. Those classic bands who are household names have built their reputation to such a level that they benefit very little from performing at a halftime show during the Superbowl. Their participation is purely out of respect and nostalgia. But for smaller acts like Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars, they will receive a spike in sales just for appearing in a Super Bowl and they should pay for that advertising just like every other vendor trying to make money off the product that the NFL created.

Every labor union who argues that their members participate equally to the product of the NFL just because they show up and play a part during a few years of their life are thinking about the whole thing incorrectly—their philosophy is framed by socialism, not capitalism. The NFL itself is a capitalist organization, and it is not greedy to expect payment for using their product—their intellectual property. People who have a problem with this are functioning socialists. It is anti capitalist to refer to the NFL as greedy for expecting compensation from those riding their product to success.

If Bruno Mars sings a song in the middle of the woods deep in the mountains, nobody cares. If the Superbowl puts him on stage for billions of people that they organized for the event Bruno Mars benefits as does the NFL. But the NFL has to make a business decision as to who should play in their halftime show and it is up to them if they want payment in financial compensation, or if they want to honor musical legends like the Stones or Aerosmith with a free party and chance to have some fun during one of the biggest American events of the year. The players, and other entertainment professionals participating in the Super Bowl do not make the value of the game. They simple play a part. If they refuse there are other Russell Wilsons in the world who are willing to throw a football in front of millions of viewers. Some people would do it for free just for the opportunity to do it. The unions have only one function that is anti-capitalist in its desire and that is to loot off the productive enterprise of value creators like the NFL create. They are leeches that are beneath contempt and are dead wrong in their assertion about payment regarding halftime entertainment. As usual the collective bargaining agreements of these labor unions are more appropriate in Soviet Russia during the 60s and 70s than in capitalist America during a football game that embodies the economy of the most successful country on earth. The labor unions are purely second-handers looting value from those who created it and trying to make it appear that those who created that value are greedy for not wanting to “share the wealth” with their members. Their basic premise is that the NFL has money and we want it. That is the bottom line—and why the labor unions are wrong.

Rich Hoffman