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  • Quite Remarkable

  • Throw Out Skybox Tax Subsidies
    UNTIL the 1970s, Major League Baseball was a populist sport. Bleacher seats cost as little as a dollar, meaning middle- or even working-class fans could afford to take their families to a game a few times each season.

    But in the years since, tickets to baseball games — along with other professional sports events — have skyrocketed in cost. Over the last two decades, the average ticket price for a Chicago Cubs game has increased 265 percent, more than four times the inflation rate. Add in parking, concessions and souvenirs, and a family trip to one of this week’s opening day games could easily cost a few hundred dollars.

    There are many reasons for the price explosion, but a critical factor has been the ability of businesses to write off tickets as entertainment expenses — essentially a huge, and wholly unnecessary, government subsidy.


  • Bones in South African cave establish new link in chain of mankind

  • Book Burning

  • The Perfect Robot

    You've got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em.


  • U.K. Panel Calls Climate Data Valid
    A parliamentary panel investigating allegations that scientists at one of the world’s leading climate research centers misrepresented data related to global warming announced Wednesday that it had found no evidence to support that charge.

  • Victor Stenger - The New Atheism



 

Comments

I loved the robot video.

And consider: the video was sped up 50x. I'm trying to imagine a group of people excitedly watching a robot fold 5 dishrags over an hour and a half.

Plus, it's good to have you back, Norm. I know Conference is your busy time. :)

It really does show how complicated a simple task is. Imagine how many millions it would take to fold a shirt.

Still wonderful step forward. All I could think was Rosy from the Jetsons.

As someone who "suffers" from some slight amount of OCD I saw too much in the Robot video to be comfortable with it.

My wife says she'll pay the millions for one of these as soon as it demonstrates it can fold fitted sheets.

You can fold fitted sheets?

ah - the true difference between xx and xy! :)

Well I can't load the video so your fitted sheets will always be perfect rectangles and mine will be good enough until next time.

I'm not at all convinced by the NYT article on baseball prices. It to attributes the price rise of bleacher seats from $1 to $100 to two factors

A) The addition of more skyboxes in place of bleacher seats.

B) Tax breaks on business expenses buying those skyboxes meaning businesses can afford to pay more for them.

(A) is possibly only applicable to Wrigley Field from the sounds of it, and even then a reduction in the number of seats from 47,000 to 44,000 is not going to 'constrict the supply side' enough that the price will rise 10,000%! That's /insane/. The only way that would happen is if there were exactly 47,000 Yankees fans and all could afford to pay >$100 so when some were unseated they entered into a bidding war for the remainder.

(B) doesn't even make sense. Businesses are able to pay more money on sky boxes so bleacher seats become more expensive? Well suppose you read a different article saying that the amount of money baseball clubs took in from the sky boxes was the only thing keeping the cost of bleacher seats from rising further. Wouldn't that sound as, if not more plausible? Any additional rise in cost of the sky boxes is completely irrelevant to the cost of the bleachers (it's not if you want to buy a 'family sky box' of course but....) and if anything you would expect there to be an inverse relationship: Club needs to make X amount of money, it is making Y from sky boxes and therefore needs to charge Z for the bleachers to make up the remainder; therefore as Y increases Z decreases.

I'm not saying the cost of seats in the bleachers hasn't gone up, but it's a consequence of the commercialization of sports (sports being run as businesses, players demanding increases salaries justified on the bases of fan demand). Blaming it on tax breaks for business expenses (which I'm sure there are other good arguments against) is incoherent and is, quite frankly, not news which is fit to print.

Duncan,

No business I'm aware of (especially sports clubs) uses that logic. Instead of saying, We need to make X amount of money, they are asking, How big can X possibly be?

The reason ticket prices have gone up so much is that ballclubs have discovered that people will pay that much.

If someone wants to argue that this shouldn't qualify as a tax deduction for business, that's fine, but pointing to high ticket prices will not persuade me.

That is part of the argument. Another point that can be made is that congress has provided Major League Baseball with a monopoly so there isn't the competition that would be available if that were not the case. A monopoly, fewer seats while the population is rising combined with tax breaks for the corporate fucks is a recipe for screwing the average guy.

Norm, just to clarify, are you arguing that baseball tickets should not be tax-deductible for corporations, or that entertainment expenses in general should not be tax deductible for corporations? (In other words, is your objection here sports-specific? Or are you after the "corporate fucks" wherever they may be lurking?)

I wanna see someone do this by themselves with queen or king size sheets! :~)

I do this routinely... once a week at work one of us helps out the housekeepers at my workplace with folding sheets (so once every 3 weeks I'm doing this). I didn't think it would have been such a big deal. I can have video for you in the next 2 weeks :) (not really, but that's because I'm shy).

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