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Steroids in Baseball

I generally avoided watching the news while I was on vacation. But one day I was curious. Unfortunately, that was also the day Congress was questioning baseball players about steroid use in professional baseball.

All the news channels were covering it. For a few minutes I thought I had found a safe haven in CNBC, but even they started talking about it. Arrrrr!

I don't follow baseball. But I do follow politics. And I'm outraged that baseball has become a political issue. Most people agree that baseball has a steroid problem. (I have no opinion.) And most people want to see it solved. But political solutions have an overwhelming tendency to be, well, bad. Many words were spent blaming the league for its steroid policies. The league may deserve criticism here, but it absolutely does not deserve government regulation. For any game, "cheating" is defined as breaking the rules. Whether steroid use is cheating or not depends on the rules of the game. With the rules of baseball today, it's cheating. The league is responsible for policing those rules. It may be doing a poor job, but that's the league's problem — not Congress's. Emphatically! Not! Congress's!

If Congress solves the problem by legislation, it will have an unfortunate side-effect: It will forbid any change in the rules that would allow steroids. It would outlaw, for example, the creation of a new and additional baseball league open to steroid users.

Such a league might not be popular. It would be a target of condemnation. It would probably be a financial disaster. Or, it might become an exciting display of (literally) superhuman talent. I don't pretend to know what would happen — and it doesn't matter. (And I personally don't care.) Congress should not forbid such a league. It would violate the rights of the players, owners, and fans who would voluntarily choose to participate in the "enhanced" sport.

You might disapprove of the creation of a steroid league. Too bad. That's irrelevant. One person's preferences, or a group's preferences, or even a majority's preferences are not a sufficient reason to violate the rights of others. The purpose of a Constitution defining and restricting the government's powers is precisely to protect individual rights from democratic rule. (As the saw goes, democracy is four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.)

I blame John McCain.

Tiny Island