Fantasy Football for the Green Movement

The NFL playoffs are underway, but for millions of Americans football season has ended.  With the conclusion of the regular season we have the end of fantasy football and its concomitant fascination with rushing yards, touchdowns, defensive points allowed, and sacks.

I played fantasy football once, in 2008. It ruined watching football for me.

I had Johnnie Lee Higgins, a bit player and kick returner for the Oakland Raiders, on my fantasy team (fantasy footballers everywhere are sneering and chuckling).  That year the Raiders played an overtime game against the Jets, a rival of my favorite team.  This should have been an exciting game to watch, with me pulling against the rivals.    But no.  As the game was nearing its end, with the Raiders up by a touchdown, I was still losing my fantasy matchup.  I needed overtime and 4 or 5 punt returns by Johnnie Lee.  Counter to the interests of my favorite team, I was forced to pull for a late game touchdown drive by Brett Favre for the Jets – which he delivered.  I couldn’t muster any care for the actual outcome of the game.

Yeah, Yeah.  What kind of fantasy footballer are you Sean that plays Johnnie Lee Higgins.  Well, it turns out that the administrator, when setting up our league, took the defaults and defined the scoring system with return yards counting the same as rushing and receiving yards.  Johnnie Lee was the league leader in return yards – which could exceed 100 yards per game without having any impact on the real outcome.  I was exploiting a loophole in scoring definition that perverted the link between individual performance and its effect on the actual outcome.

The consequence of this perversion, I think we can all agree, doesn’t really matter.  But now imagine if business could get tax credits or federal subsidies based on such a definition.  Might they pervert their otherwise productive efforts toward collecting these dollar-denominated fantasy points?

Enter the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which just ended the public comment period on its efforts to define and count green jobs.  From an article in the liberal American Prospect

The public commentary period that just ended is part of a larger federal effort to formalize our understanding of what a green job is and count, for the first time, how many green jobs already exist and how fast the sector is growing. It’s both critical and frustratingly, agonizingly slow-moving.

I bet it is.

Most would probably agree that truckers who drive tractor-trailers running on diesel fuel wouldn’t count as green workers even if they’re transporting wind-turbine parts. And many of the jobs we would count as green already exist.

Then what’s the point? 

States have an obvious incentive to make the definition of green jobs broad — they’re competing with other states for federal dollars and employers. But employers are biased as well. . .

Sarah White, who works on sustainable workforce and clean-energy issues for the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, says we’ve made mistakes applying definitions before: In the beginning of the ethanol craze, nearly everyone who grew corn was counted as part of the sector.

Ahh, it’s that bootleggers and baptists thing again.  They are both busy creating a scoring system for the fantasy economy.   But what is the real game?

– – – – –

In 2008 the Raiders finished a hapless 5-11.  But what do I care – Johnnie Lee Higgins had 300 receiving yards, 1400 return yards, and 7 touchdowns.

Heath R., this post is for you.

This entry was posted in Economics, Regulation, Subsidy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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