Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hearings like deja vu all over again

How many countless hours have our political leaders focused on the issue of steroids in baseball? It is an election year where the United States is involved in a winless war, the “American Dream” of homeownership is turning into a mortgage crisis nightmare, our economy quickly slipping into recession territory, public schools churning out thousands of children who cannot read or write, and residents of New Orleans are still living in FEMA trailers over 2 years after Hurricane Katrina and congress is holding yet another round Major League Baseball hearings. With all the issues that are plaguing our country are another round of steroid hearings the best use of Washington’s time and taxpayers’ money?

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the main investigative arm of the U.S. House of Representatives with jurisdiction to probe any federal program and matters with federal policy implications. To begin investigating the MLB and players congress had to devise a way for this non-federal program to fall within the definition of “matters with federal policy implications.” The website for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform published the following statement to “justify” their focus on the issue:

“Steroid use among teenagers is increasing rapidly, with some experts estimating that nearly half a million teens have used steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in recent years. The related health risks can be devastating: heart and liver damage, infection, changes in sexual characteristics, violent rages, and even severe depression that can lead to suicide. Because of the influence of professional athletes on teen behavior, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating steroid use in professional sports and the adequacy of efforts by the Major League Baseball, the NFL, and other professional sports leagues to eliminate their use.”

Essentially the excuse used by congress to waste their time and your money on this issue is because teenagers are easily impressionable and take steroids because they see ball players doing it. While I see the logic behind this train of thought I still question whether this issue is within the jurisdiction of the federal government or whether there are other reasons behind the decision to pursue these matters within the walls of the US Capitol. If there is an “Impressionable Teenager” litmus test for determining the need for a congressional investigation will Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and the Spears girls be brought before congress to testify on their impact on teenage drinking, drug use, pregnancy rates, spending and eating disorders all of which impact far more then the half million teens estimated to use steroids. Is congress just as “star-struck” as teenagers that when presented with the opportunity to meet, subpoena and question baseball players they had to take it?

Baseball did permit, and by some accounts encouraged, the use of performance enhancing drugs and that is certainly an employee abuse issue that warranted examination by the department of labor, not congress. Even the Mitchell Report concluded “that everyone in baseball is responsible: the owners, the commissioner, the union and the players." Major League Baseball has a serious Human Resources personnel issue, not a federal one. Congress should stop wasting their time and our money investigating frivolous nonsense and “play ball” on issues that really effect US citizens.

6 comments:

Drew said...

I think you're forgetting about that little perk MLB enjoys known as a federal anti trust legislation exemption that puts them under federal jurisdiction and oversight.

Wade said...

well put, chelle. yesterday was a waste of time on everybody's part. and drew beat me to the punch-- whenever (some in) congress smell an opportunity to lift the antitrust regs that baseball enjoys, expect an investigation.

Nursedude said...

Drew is right in that MLB does deserve a look-see because they have made a ton of $$ due to their Federal Anti trust legislation exemption. That said, as a nation, we have WAY bigger fish to fry. I think in the last 3 years, baseball has improved a lot on recognizing that they messed up. What will be interesting is what will happen with hall of fame voting when all of these guys from the juiced era:Palmeiro, McGwire, Bonds and Clemens come up for votes...
As an unsolicited aside, I am still amazed that Jim Rice and Andre Dawson STILL have not made it to the Hall. Dawson in Particular really belongs-and he was clean.

Explosive Bombchelle said...

I'm still a bit confused to the changes to standard operating procedures with this anti-trust matter. Anti-trust matters fall within the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested. Maybe I'm missing something but shouldn't they be heading all this up?

husband said...

additionally many of these activities (selling, posessing, and taking steroids) are illegal. I think we saw a push for many reasons, but one not to be forgotten is the Shrub's former job as the owner of an MLB franchise.

I agree, it's a waste of congress' time, however they've wasted their time on things worse than steroid use by baseball players...

AttorneyMedic said...

Maybe from all of this Bush's tax plan will get me back $610 in 2008 instead of $600. Wow. I'm stoked.

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