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Regarding economist Kenneth Rogoff’s March 13 article, “Public acceptance of high salaries for athletes contrasts with low regard for finance superstars“: Rogoff is overlooking several comparison factors that most people regard as natural markers in determining the justice of financial rewards based on merit.

First of all, financiers lobbied for their own deregulation. Baseball stars accept the decisions of referees; the rules remain pretty stable. We rarely hear of teams bribing referees or associations to relax the rules. If a team does offer a bribe, it is probably not aimed at relaxation of the rules, which is what the banks wanted.

Second, if a baseball player fails his team, he is held accountable. In finance, those who recently were most responsible for poor investment decisions continued to collect insane bonus amounts while employees who were simply doing their best lost their jobs. There is no equivalent to this insanity in baseball.

Third, banks seem to have leaned on the too-big-to-fail aspect of their businesses to hold the government to ransom in the form of rescue assistance. Is there a baseball equivalent to that?

Fourth, a lost baseball match tends not to affect many people outside of baseball. The finance superstars of our Western banks have managed to harm the whole world economy. The Occupy movement called for a diverse range of system reforms, principally:

Separation of money’s influence from politics.

Separation of individual savings from bank’s investment wings.

Transparency of U.S. government investments in government-regulated industries.

Because these amendments would do so much to curtail the kind of piracy that passes for legitimate financial business and supervision, police were coordinated to crack down hard on protesters. This would be kind of like baseball stars attacking fans with their bats when hearing complaints that the game is rigged.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

dominic berry

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