A mere few decades ago in Oregon, those born here enjoyed a state in which the wealthy didn’t rule over much of anything and seldom were known to order public officials around. Then, too, young bucks still had a chance to make their mark even if they did not come from a family with riches that got that way by underpaying their workers and indulging themselves to live, as now they often do, like potentates.
The other day a columnist in our time wrote a rather lengthy column about the guy who was as wealthy as any American can get and had used some of his wealth to own and control an NBA franchise, the Portland Trail Blazers. As anyone who’s taken notice of the lives of the rich and famous, Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, passed away a few weeks ago.
We’re told that Allen’s last will and testimony seeks to sell his assets, including the Blazers, and give what’s acquired in amounts of millions upon millions of dollars to charitable causes. Well, good for Allen who, with one surviving sister, and a man who never married and also had no children, my hat is tipped with great respect to him as one who will not make a few relatives rich enough to do nothing except order other Americans around.
Then a thought occurred to me, relative to many Oregonians I’ve known from birth—they loved and continue to love our state and our nation and desire a return, even in some small measure, to those times when hardly any citizen of our state was filthy rich. However, if there were, back when, even a few enjoying financial good fortune, they didn’t impose their will on everyone else by taking control of the state’s institutions and Capitol occupants.
Ah, hah! The Green Bay Packers of Green Bay, Wisconsin come to mind. Here’s the factual scoop on the Packers. The Green Bay Packers Board of Directors is the organization that serves as the owner of record of the National Football League’s team. The Packers have been a publicly-owned, non-profit corporation since 1923. Their management structure is unlike anything else in American professional sports. Instead, the Packers are publicly-traded with a total of 112,158 shareholders owning 4,750,937 shares in GBP Incorporated.
So, instead of letting the Portland Trail Blazers be bought by the likes of the Paulson family, Merritt owning the Portland Timbers, or the Knight family, Phil apparently “owning” the UO Ducks, the people of Oregon, and anyone else willing to put a few dollars into a collective kitty, being able to claim ownership in a professional sports team. As a result, we, collectively, could take a big step in the direction of common folks owning what they’re cheering for and spending great gobs of money to see and, in that way, helping rich guys and their families build more homes overseas and buy Ivy League university educations for their offspring.
What say you fellow serfs? Is it not time to claim by joint ownership what could be ours and avoid another fate like that of the Seattle Super Sonics, now the Oklahoma City Thunder. Many an Oregon youth and young adult views smaller futures save servitude because things are more and more often in the exclusive hands of wealthy individuals and corporations: ownership in something like a local team could enthuse more buy-in among them.
(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion frequently in the Keizertimes.)