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How the NBA Lockout Is Like the Debt-Ceiling Debate

Both are the result of poor management, and the people at fault aren't likely to be the ones paying the price.


With the nation’s capital gripped by a tedious-yet-terrifying standoff over the federal debt ceiling, I’d like to take solace in the world of professional basketball. But not only is it the off-season, the NBA is locked in an intractable dispute of its own. Congressional Republicans say they won’t raise the debt ceiling without massive concessions on spending cuts from President Obama; the NBA owners say they won’t stage a 2011-2012 season without massive concessions from the players on salary.

Once the mind begins to focus on the depressing parallel, similarities seem to abound. You have in both cases a group of wealthy, unaccountably angry white men (owners, congressional Republicans) insisting that they are the real victims of the current recession facing off against a tall black guy (National Basketball Player’s Association head Billy Hunter, Obama). Women are largely absent from the negotiations on both fronts. And in both cases, the people looking for givebacks are oddly unwilling to admit their own role in creating the disaster.

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