Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Journalistic Coup

John Isner, the top seeded American in the French Open which begins play today in Paris, found himself trapped when I discovered him with his entourage of trainers and coaches in his hotel in Paris yesterday. Isner had agreed to a 9 PM phone interview and made the serious mistake of providing me with the name of his hotel. I wandered over to his hotel and found him in the hotel lobby conversing with his tennis buddies and he graciously granted me the exclusive interview that I sought.

You can read the resulting article in Sunday's Daily Progress at I may not be a great sports writer, but I am doggedly persistent. I discovered, among other things, that tennis players at the top of the world rankings live much better than I do. Isner's hotel put my poor fleabag of a hotel to shame. His hotel was just off the Champs Elysee in a neighborood that I know I could never find a restaurant that I could afford. C'est la vie.

Today, the French newspapers were discussing the Spanish bank problems. They look insuperable. Combined with the fact that regional governmets are imploding financially, the latest in trouble is Catalonia, Spain looks like the next Greece. Spanish unemployment exceeds the levels the US reached in the Great Depression. Soon, the Spanish bond auctions will begin attracting more (negative) attention. This has pushed Italy to the back pages, but their problems will soon reassert themselves and gain better media coverage. The expectation now is that Greece is gone, but then what? There will be no good news out of Europe for a long while.

 I also read a review of another book on the problem of income inequality. I think I will write a book about the problem of tennis playing inequality. There is certainly a bigger gap than ever between the best players and the worst players. In fact, I suspect that is true in every sport. What to do? Why not forbid good athletes from training or competing? That might level the "playing" field some. Or just handicap all the good athletes. Make LeBron James carry an anchor around while he plays.

That seems to be the economic solution proposed by those that decry inequality. Isn't the real point to improve the economic position of the folks at the bottom? Why does it matter what the gap is between the top and the bottom? That is a ridiculous preoccupation and emphasizing inequality may preclude policies that improve outcomes for those at the bottom of the economic pile.

Of course, I am reading papers published in a country that just elected a socialist at its President. But, then, are his policies much different from those of Obama. The rhetoric seems identical. I guess I have to return to Asia to find a real interest in promoting free markets. Who would have guessed?