The Corpus Callosum

World Food Day; NASCAR On Skid Row

NASCAR, for the non-TV-watching geeks out there, is an auto racing
organization.  It operates the second-most popular televised
sport
in the USA.  

In May, they were troubled, just a bit, by rising fuel costs.
 One team, Hendrick Motorsports, href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/personal-finance/on-topic/sports/racing-fuel-costs-soar-nascar-weekend-warriors/">said
that the higher prices would cost them an extra $760,000 this year.
 Perhaps this is, in part, due to the belated href="http://www.nascar.com/2006/news/headlines/cup/01/20/nascar.fuel/index.html">decision
to use unleaded gas for the first time.

That was then; this is now:

href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601079&sid=ajqKE29.xSSc&refer=home">Nascar
Hits Wall as Financial Crisis Dents Sponsorships Demand

By Gene Laverty

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) — Sponsors of Nascar, the No. 2
sport
on U.S. television after professional football, are slamming on the
brakes because of the world’s financial crisis…

Teams with family names revered in stock-car racing like Petty, Waltrip
and Earnhardt may enter 2009 with unfunded cars. The circuit might even
have trouble filling 43-car fields…

Earnhardt’s 34-year-old son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., faces the prospect of
a season without sponsorship for the team he owns in the second-tier
Nationwide Series. Nascar’s most recognizable driver hasn’t yet found a
company to replace the U.S. Navy as sponsor for his car, driven by Brad
Keselowski.

He said he wouldn’t run the car without a backer because of the estimated
$7 million it takes to compete in Nationwide’s 35 races
.
[emphasis added]

Maybe bicycle races will regain the dominance they once had.

In other news, href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601079&refer=home&sid=asU25cxVkTGY">the
NFL and NBA are cutting expenses, too, in light of the
economic downturn.  

Although these are quintessentially American activities, I can’t say
I’ll miss them when they finally topple from their excesses.
 After all, the lowest-paid NFL players get $285,000.
 That
places them in the top 0.001% of income, worldwide (via href="http://www.globalrichlist.com/">Global Rich List,
HT href="http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com/2008/10/youre-lot-richer-than-you-think.html">Amygdala).

Meanwhile, today is href="http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-7KF4LJ?OpenDocument">World
Food Day ’08.  We are reminded that:

Worldwide, the price of staples, such as wheat, flour
and cooking oil have tripled and even quadrupled.

From href="http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12373732">The
Economist:

[Dec 6th 2007] Panicked by rising food prices in
2007, more
than 30 governments, from Ukraine to China, introduced export
restrictions for farm produce. This cut the supply of food on world
markets, sending prices even higher. Rice was worst hit because only 4%
of its global crop is traded across borders, compared with 13% for
maize and 19% for wheat. On news of bans in China, Vietnam, Cambodia,
India and Egypt (which between them grew 40% of world rice exports in
2007), the price tripled within a few weeks.

For a while, it looked as though a catastrophic food crisis was
imminent.  More recently, in fact, the price of food has eased
considerably, along with the prices of most commodities.  For
autumn, 2008 (HT jfleck):

href="http://www.economist.com/markets/indicators/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12381497"> alt="" src="http://media.economist.com/images/20081011/TAB3.gif"
border="0" height="330" width="257">

But even the easing of food prices leaves us with a considerable href="http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-7KF4LJ?OpenDocument">problem:

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which
founded
World Food Day, estimates the number of people around the globe who are
undernourished at 923 million. The World Food Program estimates 15.7
million of those in need of assistance are in the Horn of Africa; 8.6
million in Afghanistan and 3.7 million in North Korean. UNICEF reports
that 143 million children under the age of five in the developing world
are underweight. Worldwide, the price of staples, such as wheat, flour
and cooking oil have tripled and even quadrupled.

I’m just trying to keep this in perspective.  Our major sports
teams are having to tighten their belts.  Some people do not
even
have belts to tighten.

I am faintly hopeful that the declining fortune of the major sporting
events will be part of a shift in values in our culture.
  href="http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2008/08/18/frugality_is_th.html">Frugality
is the new black.   href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?ei=5090&pagewanted=all">Eat
food. Not too much. Mostly plants.  

More href="http://www.theseminal.com/2008/10/15/blog-action-day-alarming-poverty-statistics/">facts
about economic disparity, from Blog Action Day.

Comments

  1. #1 jayh
    October 16, 2008

    You realize of course that MOST of that 57M actually goes into people’s pockets (drivers are well, but not spectacularly paid). Mechanics, crew, machinists, maintenance people and all the other thousands of employees at the tracks, and countless other areas of the economy. This affects lots of people like any business loss.

  2. #2 stumpy
    October 16, 2008

    NASCAR is nothing but a bunch of evil redneck yahoos roaring around and around a track, burning tons of fossil fuels, polluting the environment with their noise and exhaust fumes, and occasionally wiping out spectacularly — all for the pleasure of like-minded beer-swilling yahoos in the stands and on tv. It’s nothing more than the Roman circus, updated and with internal combustion engines.

  3. #3 Joseph j7uy5
    October 16, 2008

    jayh, you do have a point, in that most economic activity has some benefit for the general population. The problem is that we have built an economy that absolutely depends upon people buying things that they do not really need, and producing things that have no intrinsic utility. While that did result in spectacular growth for several decades, it never was sustainable. That is what I mean by “excesses.” The problem with basing an economy on the production of useless stuff, is that in a downturn, people stop buying useless stuff. Then the whole thing collapses. Which is happening now.

    I have nothing against entertainment. In fact, I used to live within a few miles of Michigan International Speedway. I even have a Jeff Gordon jacket, from after his rookie year, before he got famous. It was at JC Penny for about $12, and I needed a jacket.

    Anyway, I did see how much the races contributed to the local economy. The problem is with entertainment that uses a tremendous quantity of natural resources. It makes our economy more fragile.

    Plus, stumpy is right, there is a lot of beer swilling. And a lot of drunk driving by hyped-up fans after the race. It is not pretty. Sure, not everyone does that, but plenty of people do, and it is really annoying to the locals.

  4. #4 stumpy
    October 17, 2008

    An additional problem is that, despite the dangerous and useless lifestyles of both drivers and fans, they typically don’t die before reproducing. Thus are we ensured of a continuing supply of battered pickup trucks with bootlegged decals of “Calvin” urinating on everything from Osama to Obama to “Gun Control”… at least, until the gas really does run out. Then they’ll have to go back to whipping the family mule and burning barns.

  5. #5 film izle
    March 31, 2009

    all for the pleasure of like-minded beer-swilling yahoos in the stands and on tv. It’s nothing more than the Roman circus, updated and with internal combustion engines.