opinion | What is the problem with golf? sales culture.

Even if you don’t play or watch golf – which I don’t – you are probably familiar with the controversy sweeping the game right now. A number of the world’s top professional players, notably Phil Mickelson, have made very lucrative deals to play in a new round, LIV Golf International Series, sponsored by Saudi Arabia. The PGA Tour, which has traditionally dominated the sport, responded Stop 17 of these players.

It is clear that the Saudis are involved in the laundering of reputation – the laundering of vegetables? Trying to make people forget the atrocities committed by their regime. It is not clear what prompted the PGA to consider the LIV chain defective, not a proper round of golf? Was she trying to crush the competition? Or was the problem with the sponsors of the LIV series?

PGA participants surveyed ProGolf Weekly They were not in doubt: the vast majority attributed Mickelson’s exclusion to “the media/cancellation culture”. I hope they are right. I mean, if you get paid to provide favorable PR for a system that deals with critical journalists They kill them and cut their limbs with a bone saw Cancellation does not justify what? However, Michelson et al were willing to provide that PR

So if you ask me, the real story here isn’t that the PGA may (or may not) have found a line it won’t cross. It is clear that many members of the American elite do not have such lines.

That is, the emergence of a culture of cancellation seems less important and ominous than the emergence of a culture of selling. It seems that more and more people at the top of our social hierarchy are willing to do anything, to anyone, as long as the money is good enough.

This is not a purely partisan issue, although the selling culture may be somewhat more prevalent on the right than on the left. It’s still unusual, given Donald Trump’s rants about America First, how many of them are members of his inner circle — including Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, and Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer — have been accused, in some cases, even of admitting to working as paid agents of authoritarian foreign governments.

Even before Trump left office, both his son-in-law and Treasury secretary were courting Middle Eastern investors, and both soon took over. huge sums From the Saudis and other Gulf governments.

But like I said, this is not a purely partisan thing. Sunday President of the (Influential) Centrist Brookings Institution Resigned In the face of an FBI investigation into whether he lobbied illegally on behalf of Qatar.

And while selling to foreign governments Special legal status Not disclosing your role as a paid foreign agent is a crime – it’s not clear that it’s morally worse than selling to questionable domestic interests.

My heart sank last fall when Crypto.com, a cryptocurrency exchange, has launched a file ad Starring famous liberal actor Matt Damon. Perhaps Dimon didn’t know much about cryptocurrencies and many analysts were very skeptical about the purpose they serve; He was assigned to play a role. (Larry David He served an advertisement for another crypto company that ran during the Super Bowl.) But by playing that role, he helped promote what ever seems like a pump-and-dump scheme; Cryptocurrencies lost more than 1.6 trillion dollars in value Since this ad was started.

But didn’t that happen at all? Have people not used influence and celebrities since the dawn of civilization? Yes – but I don’t think I represent the past by noting that there was more restraint, more disdain associated with selling very clearly. Back in 1967, John Kenneth Galbraith was hardly a fan of capitalism, confirmed That senior corporate executives were subject to a “code” that forbade “taking personal profits” and actually enforced a “high level of personal honesty”. I don’t think he was completely naive.

Or consider the fact that it was seen as shocking at the time when Gerald Ford was get richafter the presidency, with paid speeches, seats on corporate boards, etc.

Full disclosure: Yes, I sometimes give paid speeches within the limits set by Times rules. But I’m trying, Not always successful, to make sure the sponsors aren’t evil, and don’t do the paid calling – which, back in golf, is exactly what Mickelson & Co. Effectively doing it when they’re signed in to play the Bone Saw Tour.

What explains the emergence of sales culture? Tax cuts may have played a role: Selling your soul becomes more attractive when you get more revenue. Rising income inequality may inspire envy and a desire to keep up with the super elite. And there is certainly a process of normalization: everyone else is conceding, so why not join the party?

Whatever the interpretation, it is clear that something has changed; There is more visible corruption at the top than there was. I think the costs of this corruption include frustration. Children are used to looking at public figures, and sports stars in particular, as role models. Are they still? Could they, given what public figures would do if the checks were big enough?