A frequent criticism of government is that it acts slowly and in a cumbersome fashion. That may be true. However, such conduct does not occur solely in the public domain.
In the private sector, the St. Louis Cardinals and top player Albert Pujols are taking days, weeks, months, even years to do what can be done in a half hour. That’s inefficiency unmatched by any level of government. How difficult can it be to work out an agreement where everybody’s going to be rich?
So here’s what a half hour negotiation session between Bill DeWitt, Jr., owner of the Cardinals, and Albert Pujols could look like. No attorneys allowed and Tony LaRussa can’t come in with the “non-political” Glenn Beck to offer advice.
I’m happy to play the role of facilitator for a 0% cut.
“Bill, you know Albert; Albert you know Bill. Okay these negotiations don’t have to be hard; it’s not like we’re trying to bring peace to the Middle East. We should be able to get this done in less than a half hour.
Here’s the deal: I’m going to give you a range of choices in four areas that are important to each of you. With or without a No. 2 pencil, indicate your choice(s) to each question. After you’ve made your choice and completed the form, we’ll split the difference on all of them. Neither side will feel any pain with the results; you’ll all be rich when it’s said and done.
1. Salary per year:
a) $16 mil
b) $18 mil
c) $20 mil
d) $22 mil
e) $24 mil
f) $26 mil
g) $28 mil
h) $30 mil
2. Number of years of contract:
a) 1 year
b) 2 years
c) 3 years
d) 4 years
e) 5 years
f) 6 years
g) 7 years
h) 8 years
i) 9 years
j) 10 years
3. No trade clause (i.e. Albert can choose if he does not want to be traded to another team. He could alternately list which teams would be acceptable to him for a trade). So, should the contract include a “no-trade” clause?
b) Partial; Albert can list ____ (fill in the blank) number of teams to which he would agree to be traded. For the first year, the names of the teams are: __________________ (fill in the blank). This list can be changed every year.
4. Special considerations (each side picks two; each side can veto two)
a) Albert is consulted on managerial change
b) Albert has veto power over managerial change
c) Albert is consulted on general manager change
d) Albert has veto power over general manager change
e) Albert can take 0.5% of his salary and invest it into ownership of the team, up to a maximum of five years.
f) Albert can become manager of Ballpark Village and develop the area entirely for charitable, educational, health care, or low-income housing use.
g) Albert can take 0.5% of his salary in any given year and have that amount matched by the Cardinals for the purpose of reimbursing the city of St. Louis and/or the state of Missouri for the tax abatements that the Cardinals previously negotiated.
h) Albert can take 0.5% of his salary in any given year and have that amount matched by the Cardinals for the purpose of meeting basic economic and social needs in Albert’s home country of the Dominican Republic.
You have ten minutes to write down your responses. We will then take ten minutes to discuss “splitting the differences;” i.e. negotiating. Then we’ll take ten minutes to make sure that we’re all fully aware of the terms and satisfied.
*** 30 minute interval for negotiations ***
“Gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure doing business with you and a business doing pleasure with you. Let’s now go to Steak ’n Shake. Who’s treating?”