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« Your tax dollars at work | Main | Meet the new boss »

Jan 27, 2011


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Foreclosure Attorney

His sentiment is admirable, but the team willingly made a contract. I don't think it immoral for him to abide by it.


Maybe he's just one of those rich dudes who dislikes rendering unto Caesar. No check, no additional taxes.


$40 million is a pretty good take for a mediocre, middle-of-the road baseball player that no one will remember beyond this story. I don't know that admirable is the adjective I'd apply, but he is at least honest with himself. He wasn't going to cut it any longer at the big league level so what's the point? Sometimes you got to know when to fold 'em and move on.


A contract is a legal obligation, not a moral pact. So, good on him for heeding his conscience.

Of course, he's only able to do that because he's already on of the Privileged Rich. If he'd been making $40,000 for the last few years he might have taken a different approach.

Andrew Brod

Today's N&R runs an Amity Shlaes column on the Ideas front that seems designed to miss the point of Meche's decision.

"What this shows is that Meche lives in an economy where contracts matter." No, it doesn't. We may admire Meche for not enforcing his contract, but as Foreclosure Attorney notes above, the contract was for Meche to continue being paid. The team was willing to pay him. If anything, Meche's decision, along with the Calvin Coolidge anecdote at the end of the piece, show that it's nice to ignore contracts sometimes.

"A Meche economy is one in which the parties treat each other well enough that people want to do business with each other again." That's great when parties are in business again and again, though it's not necessarily moral or admirable. It's "enlightened self-interest." Being polite to the boss is nice, but mostly it's just smart.

Shlaes compares this to bankers with bailed-out institutions suing to be paid their bonuses, which is a policy issue, not a business-relationships issue. Who are those bankers doing business with again? The taxpayers? And the example is utterly unlike Meche's alternative, which was to collect a salary that the other side intended to pay.

Shlaes stretches the fabric of this tortured comparison even more to relate it to mortgage modification. Surveys indicate that a minority of underwater homeowners ("almost half of those polled") is more likely to default if the lender is accused of unethical practices. Never mind the clever trick of ignoring the majority's unwillingness to do so. Shlaes apparently believes that reacting to others' transgressions (which for good or ill, is consistent with what we know about human nature) is short-sighted. But her argument depends on the aggregate effect of many people doing the same thing, not personal relationships. What was the point again?

If this is about focused short-run benefits vs. diffuse long-run costs, one could adduce many examples, such as, I don't know, unfunded tax cuts for the rich. But that wouldn't fit the point of this silly piece, would it?

It's one thing to admire Meche and his decision. I do. But using it to extrapolate broader economic insights is dubious.

Ed Cone

Shlaes and dubious economic insights are no strangers.

And why was a non-local column on a past-its-shelf-life story on the front page of the opinion section?

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