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‘Boomerang Kids’: Images of college graduates with huge debts who live with their parents
07.29.2014
11:42 am

Topics:
Current Events
Economy

Tags:
debt crisis


Annie Kasinecz, 27, Downers Grove, Ill.
Degree: B.A., Advertising and public relations, Loyola University, Chicago
Student Loans: $75,000

Los Angeles-based photographer Damon Casarez‘s series titled “Boomerang Kids” portrays the bleak reality that 1 in 5 Americans in their 20s and early 30s live at home with their parents. According to the New York Times, “60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them.” That’s staggering, isn’t? Of course there are a plethora reasons why Millennials are still at home with mom and dad, but the main reason is… crushing student debt loans.

In effect, children move out, go through the standard rite of passage of American life—getting a highly valued “higher education”—and then end up dependent on their parents again (if there was ever a break in the first place) a day or two after graduation because there are no decent paying jobs anymore.

Saddling themselves up to their eyeballs in student loan debts—whether they attended classes or attended to their hangovers—that they will then be paying off to Wall Street capitalists for much, perhaps most, of their productive lives seems like a raw deal. Who benefits from this equation? It’s becoming more and more obvious every day what a scam colleges are.

In the case of Damon Casarez, he was in the very same situation that his subjects are in—lots of debt and living at home—and “Boomerang Kids” was a way of connecting with young people in similar financial straights, an entire generation with a “failure to launch” crisis not of their own making.

Here’s a bit more from the New York Times:

The common explanation for the shift is that people born in the late 1980s and early 1990s came of age amid several unfortunate and overlapping economic trends. Those who graduated college as the housing market and financial system were imploding faced the highest debt burden of any graduating class in history. Nearly 45 percent of 25-year-olds, for instance, have outstanding loans, with an average debt above $20,000. And more than half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, meaning they make substandard wages in jobs that don’t require a college degree.

snip~

For most of American history, it was natural for each generation to become richer than the previous one. Now that’s no longer true. These changes created a new, far less predictable dynamic — some people would do much better than their parents could have ever dreamed; others would fall permanently behind. Given the volatility of the changes, the idea of an “average” worker was becoming obsolete. And while much of the discussion about economic inequality has centered on the top 1 percent, it’s the gap between the top 20 percent and the rest that’s more salient to young people. “That is a dividing point,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. People in the top 20 percent of income — roughly $100,000 in 2013 — have taken nearly all the economic gains of the past 40 years. (Of course, the top 1 percent and, even more so, the top 0.01 percent, has taken a far more disproportionate share.)

The series “Boomerang Kids” was shot in “8 states and over 14 cities, the work is a revealing and compassionate story of Millennials in the United States.”


Monica Navarro, 24, Escondido, Calif.
Degree: B.A., Literature and writing, University of California, San Diego.
Career Goal: Librarian
Current Job: Library volunteer, Home Depot Worker
Student Loans: $44,000

 

Gabriel Gonzalez, 22, Suffern, N.Y.
Degree: B.F.A., Graphic design, School of Visual Arts
Career goal: Graphic designer
Current job: Graphic designer and production assistant
Student Loans: $130,000

 

Alexandria Romo, 28, Austin, Tex.
Degree: B.A., Economics, Loyola University, Chicago
Career goal: Environmentalist
Current Job: Working at a corporate-security firm
Student Loans: $90,000

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Moneyballs: A million bucks shredded for… art
06.25.2014
01:58 pm

Topics:
Art
Economy

Tags:
Argentina
money
Alberto Echegaray Guevara

Alberto Echegaray Guevara
 
What is it about seeing massive sums of money collected in a single place (and also rendered useless) that exerts such a fascination on us? On his first album The Top Part, standup comedian John Mulaney has a bit where he asserts that he’d rather pay $10 to see a pile of 100 million dollars in a room than pay $10 to see most of the movies that cost 100 million dollars. The KLF created a significant public spectacle when they burned a million pounds in public—indeed, some observers say that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty of the KLF were never quite the same after that odd event.
 
Alberto Echegaray Guevara
 
Alberto Echegaray Guevara was “an advisor to the Argentinian economic minister who pegged the country’s currency at a 1:1 rate with the US dollar” in 1991, a move that unquestionably sapped the Argentine government of flexibility and almost certainly led to the country’s massive economic meltdown in 1998-2002. In those years Argentina suffered an economic collapse that makes the problems the U.S. suffered between 2007 and 2010 look like a joke: the economy shrank by a whopping 28 percent. Understandably, the economic shock caused significant unrest in the country and toppled the government of Fernando de la Rua in 2001.

A cataclysmic event of such magnitude is bound to discourage one a mite about the world financial regime, and stance surely made all the more pronounced by the world economic collapse in 2008. In response, Guevara created Moneyball: Power Spheres, a work of art that uniquely expresses a deep pessimism about the ubiquitous institution of money: the work consists of 12 Murano crystal orbs, 11 of them filled with a million shredded Argentinian pesos each, surrounding an orb with a million shredded U.S. dollars. (The ratio of orbs is meant to comment on the exchange rate between peso and dollar.) The work saw its debut at arteBA, Latin America’s largest contemporary art fair, in late May.
 
Alberto Echegaray Guevara
 
In an essay for the Atlantic titled “Why I Shredded $1 Million,” Guevara explains his motivations and the process of making Moneyball:
 

The central theme of my work was the idea of destruction. I wanted to break something down to give it a new meaning, or to see what new meaning it would be given. To find out, I shredded $1 million, and the black-market equivalent of that sum in Argentine pesos: 11 million. The money was then displayed in Murano crystal spheres in an installation I named Moneyball: The One Million Dollar Installation.

-snip-

No matter who saw the crystal spheres, the first question was invariably, “Whose money is this?” or “Where/how did you get the money?” All of the bills were out-of-circulation, already rendered valueless in the traditional sense. While I was probably the first person to ask, obtaining permission to take the shredded money was complex in the United States and at the European Central Bank.

Argentina’s Central Bank was the only institution to be withholding, though. It was an ironic move, given that the Argentine peso is the least valued of all the currencies, but not surprising considering how secretive the country is when it comes to its books, having reported inflation rates for years now as much lower than what independent economists assess. The Central Bank surprisingly keeps no official records of how many bills it destroys, either. For months, I followed trucks with out-of-circulation bills to wade through dumpsters with their discards until I finally accumulated enough for the installation.

 
Guevara hopes to take his art work all over the world. In this video, he waxes philosophical about the evanescent and arbitrary power that money holds over us. But for his audience, the work is mainly about seeing all that money.
 

 
via Hyperallergic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The RAPID deterioration of Detroit according to Google Street View is both shocking and sad
05.29.2014
11:50 am

Topics:
Current Events
Economy
Environment

Tags:
Detroit


 
The Tumblr GooBing Detroit shows the utterly jaw-dropping deterioration of neighborhoods in Detroit using Google Street View and Bing Street View. What’s shocking is how rapidly the decline happened! A lot of these examples only span five years!


Eastside Detroit: Arndt between Elmwood and Ellery: 2009, 2011, 2013
 

Northeast Detroit: Boulder between Liberal and Novara: 2009, 2011, 2013
 

Northeast Detroit: Hoyt between Liberal and Pinewood: 2008, 2011, 2013
 

Northeast Detroit: Hazelridge between Celestine and Macray: 2009, 2011, 2013
 
Below, Google Street View video of apartments on Houston Whittier in northeast Detroit:

 
More images after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Want a revolution? Left unchecked, parasitical capitalism WILL produce one


 
If you’ve been (wisely) keeping yourself away from the greater mainstream media miasma, you may not have heard about the book that’s been causing “conservatives” and Libertarians to foam at the mouth and in general go pretty fuckin’ apeshit. French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a match to dry drought-brush causing a veritable meme-fire, chasing out rats and other rodents from their hiding places.

It’s been fun to watch their worldview get annihilated by facts. Numbers don’t lie—but politicians do. The likes of Rep. Paul Ryan have no cover anymore. They’re holding their shticks, so to speak.

Piketty’s story makes effective use of graphs, data and highly quantitative analysis, with his conclusion being about as blunt and straightforward as a two-by-four to the back of Rush Limbaugh’s giant butter-sculpture of a head. To put it succinctly, Piketty has proven what we probably already knew: Economic growth, in developed countries like the US, has become increasingly “owned” and funneled into the gaping maws of the 1%, and is largely fueled by increasing levels of debt for all the rest of us. In other words, for the last couple of decades we’ve moved into a sort of flesh-eating bacteria version of economics that isn’t floating anyone’s boats except for a tiny minority, who are using their economic power—their capital—to grab all the benefits of growth for themselves.

But this isn’t too surprising and it’s not really what has both left and right flipping out about. The REALLY BIG STORY is about inherited wealth. In other words, that 1% we keep talking about aren’t the God-annointed uber-successful genius entrepreneurs that the Fox News types always claim they are. They aren’t the hallowed Atlas shrugging “job creators,” either. Nope: That 1% consists overwhelmingly of people who inherited their wealth, and are now using that vast amount of capital to grab any additional growth for themselves, locking out the “little guy” out in the process.

Great system we’ve got here: One baby is born with barely a pot to piss in, but another one—well 1% of babies at least—hits the fucking jackpot through an accident of birth. The other 99% are on their own!

Since the Reagan era relaxed financial and banking laws have made it ever and ever easier for enormous globs of capital to attract even more enormous globs of capital—often without doing any real “work” or creating much of anything save for more money, while smaller players got knocked out, sent to work at Walmart or some non-unionized service industry where they will never be able to accumulate enough capital themselves to ever start their own business again. With a de-capitalized and unempowered middle class, there’s not a lot of real growth around so the uber-wealthy have worked very hard to “own” what little growth there is out still out there to siphon off, stripmining the rest of the economy for whatever else they can using a mindboggling array of debt instruments: Leveraged buyouts and private equity along with consumer credit cards, mortgages, student loans, CDOs, CMOs and all sorts of other debt that funnels even more capital to the 1% without creating any real growth. They’re using your credit card debt, your mortgage and your student loans to make you work for their enrichment.

Job creators? Bullshit.

The middle class are the job creators and they are rapidly going off line for lack of access to capital. Their would be customers are broke, too. Nobody wins except for you-know-who!

This is why the Tea party has been programmed to despise the Fed’s quantitative easing program: The 1% that is largely an inheritor class don’t really care about real economic growth all that much. In fact, they don’t like it at all: Growth often comes with inflation, which for an increasingly wealthy middle class isn’t a problem as long as wealth is increasing more quickly than prices. (In fact, most economists believe that some inflation is probably necessary in order to achieve optimal growth.) But if you are a Romney or Koch or Walton who inherited a giant ball of capital, you certainly don’t want to see any inflation because that reduces your standing. I mean, it’s not like trust fund kids create REAL jobs, is it? Any of those shitty minimum wage jobs that “capitalists” crow so proudly of having created probably came about because they eliminated many more higher-paying jobs, by using their vast (and otherwise useless, ‘cause they CAN’T spend it all) capital to buy politicians and twiddle the laws in their favor.

Anyway, this grabbing of the growth by the inheritor class manifests itself in all sorts of heinous abuses of the political and economic system, but one obvious way that pops into my mind is in the real estate market. In major markets like New York and London, rents and housing costs have skyrocketed, completely out of proportion to average wages. And why? Because the uber-wealthy have so much extra cash that they dump it into real estate that neither they nor anybody else uses. Indeed, fancy neighborhoods in London like Mayfair are becoming veritable ghost towns, filled with empty houses and apartments (unless the squatters, God bless ‘em, get in there!). I remember looking at an apartment on Prince Albert Road and the doorman complained that the entire building was usually empty. But the point is that all that useless money is in effect getting speculatively dumped into real estate and the result is… nothingness. Empty neighborhoods. The oligarchs aren’t even eating in the local ritzy restaurants, because they’re someplace else. They also forced out the merely “rich”!

To sum up: Capital has become so concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority of people that those who own it can never make use of it efficiently. How could they? They inherited it after all which means they may have no business sense whatsoever aside from hiring the right people to work the system into vomiting out more capital into their cupped hands and opened mouths.

As a result, real growth (ie, not driven by middle class debt or the other myriad pyramid schemes of the super rich) has plummeted and the vast majority of middle class people have seen their standard of living slide backwards and access to the capital and tools with which in times past they may have enriched themselves has been forcibly pulled from having any practical possibility of enriching their lives! This goes way beyond mere “fairness” after all, as the new overlord “rentier” class increasingly block access to that which the middle class needs to have in order for real overall wealth to grow!

The “lumpen capitalists” have absolutely no interest in your social advancement, Jack.

In 19th century China something similar happened, and the consequences were dire indeed. Arable land (which is in effect “capital” in an agrarian society) was increasingly concentrated into the hands of a shrinking number of people. Eventually, everyone was so damned poor that by the end of the Qing dynasty even the long-suffering Chinese had had enough: 50 years of revolution later and Mao and his posse were large and in-charge. And aside from the fact that there are some who argue that Mao’s minuses (eg, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution) eventually outweighed his pluses, just getting there was no picnic.

Is that what we really want? Lots of folks say they want a revolution until they discover what living through one is actually like. Put in another way, we need some redistributive schemes now—Piketty says nothing short of an 80% wealth tax, enforced globally, will do it—or else the redistributive schemes twenty years from now will probably be far less pleasant for everyone concerned.

Below, Thomas Piketty speaks about his work with Justin Vogt, deputy managing editor of Foreign Affairs:

Posted by Em | Discussion
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Clever student designs killer LEGO résumé for internship
04.02.2014
05:34 am

Topics:
Amusing
Economy

Tags:
LEGO

LEGO résumé
 
Boy, times are tough. I can remember when it was solid advice to “keep your résumé to a single page,” “use a clear, readable font,” “use decent stock paper,” and “don’t lie TOO much.” Judging by the recent résumé crafted by Northwestern University junior Leah Bowman, who stated on imgur a desire to achieve “a fun way to stand out to agencies and get my resume out of the trash can,” I’m really fucking happy that I’m past the youthful age of sending out résumés—because there’s no way I’d be able to compete with what Bowman did.

Bowman not only used the LEGO packaging as an inspiration for the design of her résumé, she also crafted a little LEGO version of herself. If that doesn’t make her stand out, then I don’t know what would—who have a chance against competition like that?
 
LEGO résumé
 
The work I do is all texty in nature, so in all my résumés (both ones I’ve read and ones I’ve written) you can “prove” your worthiness in part by not kommitting any gLaring typos in the résumé—the résumé itself helps support the case you are trying to present as a prospective writer/editor. Notice that Bowman achieved something similar with her LEGO résumé: when she states, “From client presentations to a fresh pot of coffee, Leah tackles every project with excitement and purpose. Her attention to detail and follow-through are assets in any situation,” you KNOW for a fact that she’s not kidding about that.
 
LEGO résumé
 
LEGO résumé
 
Bowman’s résumé has done very well on reddit the last couple days. Naturally, the super shrewd part of all of this is that Bowman is now a minor Internet sensation, so it seems fairly likely that someone she hasn’t even applied to will seek her out!

Why give this kid a mere internship? I think she’s angling for a corner office.
 
via Chicagoist

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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These appallingly low musician royalty checks are both amusing and depressing


 
Being a musician and trying to get paid can be a terrible chore. You can fill a club with drinkers and they’ll still stiff you at the end of the night. Your work—and your draw—will constantly be requested free of charge, as though the magic word “exposure” paid for rehearsal studio rental and gas in the van. Even deep-pocketed concerns will hose you. A band I was in in the ‘90s had a song that managed to grow some stubby little legs thanks to a compilation appearance, and a few years after the fact, a popular cable channel wanted to use it in an animated TV show. Thrilled, I filled out a small mountain of paperwork in 2003, and I’ve still not seen a check. The same song got used by a major clothing company, but not a cent found its way to my pocket for that, either. I have a good idea which of my former bandmates gave away that song for a song, but I’ve left it alone—I was livid about it at the time, but it’s long enough in the past now that there’s no sense in getting worked up about it anymore. I still play in a group that constantly records new original material and tours as often as it can, but if I was in this for money, I’d have been done after that fiasco.

But don’t think for a moment that this sort of heinous chicanery befalls only the obscure strivers who for obvious reasons are more vulnerable to it. Important and influential artists that you’ve heard of and enjoyed get the screws put to them all the time. The way radio royalties work against smaller artists is especially vile, but as radio diminishes in importance and new models emerge, innovative new ways to rob artists emerge alongside them. Right now, Pandora, ASCAP and BMI are in court arguing about exactly how songwriters will get hosed in the future. There are so many things to read online on the subject of how musicians do or don’t get paid it’s practically becoming a genre complete with its own classics, but just as a picture speaks a thousand words, money in the bank speaks more loudly still, and a recent piece in Aux that might startle you offered some pictures of musicians’ money in the bank.

How little does the music industry pay artists? Shockingly little. Spotify, the dominant streaming music source in the U.S., is leaking money. They reportedly dole out 70 per cent of their revenue to royalties, and while that number seems high, consider this: each song stream pays an artist between one-sixth and one-eight of a cent. One source claimed that, on streaming music services, an artist requires nearly 50,000 plays to receive the revenue earned from one album sale. Ouch.

 

 
This check was cut to the influential and respected post-metal band Isis by a company called Music Reports. No specific accounting was offered.
 

 
Lambgoat speculated that this check, also from Music Reports, may have been cut for one month’s worth of streaming royalties for the long running Washington D.C. death metal band Darkest Hour.
 

 
In the ‘80s, Camper Van Beethoven were a HUGE deal in the independent/college music scene. They split into Cracker and Monks of Doom in the ‘90s, with the former becoming very popular indeed. For over a million Pandora plays of one of their hugest hits, “Low,” Cracker got a little under $17.
 

 
OK, anyone wanting to could quibble as to the significance or popularity of Isis, Darkest Hour, or even Cracker, and by all means, that’s what the comments section is there for. But this is Janis Ian. Grammy winning, massively influential folk artist Janis Ian. “Society’s Child,” Between the Lines Janis Ian, hauling down some fat Darkest Hour cash, here.

More hiliarously depressing examples at aux.tv.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Capitalism in an eggshell: The San Diego Chicken explains free market economics
02.04.2014
07:59 am

Topics:
Economy
Movies
Sports

Tags:
San Diego Chicken


 
If anyone embodies the rewards capitalism can bestow on eccentric or ridiculous behavior, it might just be Ted Giannoulas, famous to our nation’s sports fans as “The San Diego Chicken.” The Chicken started out as a mascot for the San Diego radio station with the curious call letters of KGB-FM—a student at San Diego State University, Giannoulas landed his first gig as the Chicken when he wore the outfit for a promotion to distribute Easter eggs to children at the San Diego Zoo.

By dint of being unusually enterprising and entertaining (he really is very good), the San Diego Chicken became something like a mascot for sports at large. He was never affiliated with the San Diego Padres or any other San Diego team as such—what relevance would a chicken have for a team named after monks?—but he did appear at 520 consecutive Padres games at one point. In the early 1980s, the Chicken was also a regular on the Johnny Bench-hosted children’s show The Baseball Bunch, which also featured manager Tommy Lasorda as a Merlin-esque character named “The Wizard.”

With all the devil-may-care verve of Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or any number of middle school film strips, narrator Rex Allen intones in “Chickenomics: A Fowl Approach To Economics” (groan) points out that the Chicken enjoyed “a unique career ... that can only happen in a market economy.” Allen explains that the Chicken shows us five key facets of a market economy: “Private ownership of resources, self interest motives, consumer sovereignty, markets, and competition.” Zzzzzz. Later on: “Now you know why, from millions of chickens, this one humorous bird can be successful in our economy—that is, until it lays an egg! Any chicken can do that!”

I’m telling you, not even the magical Chicken can make this stuff entertaining to high school kids.
 
San Diego Chicken
 
However, the movie’s closing credits are scored to an unforgettable “boc boc” rendition of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood.” This preposterous and pun-laden educational movie demands to be seen.
 

 
via A/V Geeks

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The Future of Life on Earth and Capitalism: Are they compatible?
12.23.2013
10:09 am

Topics:
Current Events
Economy
Environment

Tags:
overpopulation


 
Scientist and Canadian broadcaster David Suzuki’s environmental non-profit foundation works to “design a vision of Earth in which humans live within the planet’s productive capacity.” He’s got a very direct and simple way of explaining what that means, particularly in relation to exponential population growth in a 2010 video that’s only just started to be discovered and passed around.

If you understand the concept of how “compound interest” works, and have even slightly more than half a brain in your head, be prepared to have a deflating “Oh shit…” moment when he gets to the not so amusing punchline.

No matter what your political persuasion might be, there is nothing to gloat over here, I can assure you. Nothing at all!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Wal-Mart’s Walton family are parasites and moral pariahs and should be treated that way


 
The Winchester House, a sprawling Queen Anne Style Victorian mansion in San Jose, CA with no apparent rhyme or reason is a bizarre architectural manifestation of the guilty conscience (if not acute schizophrenia) of Sarah Winchester, widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester and one of the richest women in American history.

After the death of her baby daughter, and later her husband, Sarah Winchester came to believe that her family were haunted by the ghosts of people who had died by Winchester rifles, and that only by continuously building the spirits a home could she appease the ghosts (Through a medium her husband was alleged to have told her that the house must never be finished.)

I could not help but to think of Sarah Winchester when I read an item this morning on Business Insider that tells of how a Cleveland, Ohio-based Wal-Mart store is holding a food drive — for the very people who work there…

A sign in the store reads: “Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.”

Breathtaking isn’t it? This is America’s largest employer. THIS is how low things have gotten.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer quoted Norma Mills, a Wal-Mart customer complaining “That Wal-Mart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers — to me, it is a moral outrage.”

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, said the food drive is proof that employees care about each other.

“It is for associates who have had some hardships come up,” he said. “Maybe their spouse lost a job.

“This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said.

Extreme hardships like working at fucking Wal-Mart!?!?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if when someone told a lie, they’d just spontaneously combust? I would love that…

But what does any of this have to do with Sarah Winchester’s guilty conscience, you ask? At least she had one. Sarah Winchester acutely felt the wages of death that made her so rich and it ruined her life.

As everyone should know by now, but it still bears repeating, the Walton family is the richest family in the world and they collectively own over 50% of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer and second largest corporation. The family is worth a combined total of $150 billion as of August 2013 and the six most prominent members of the family have approximately the same net worth as the bottom 30% of American families combined.

They didn’t do a goddamn thing to earn this money. Nothing. They inherited every cent of their billions.

Every item that is purchased at a Wal-Mart has a tax built in for the Walton family. The supply chain that reaches to factories in Chinese and Indian slums? There is a tariff at each stop along the way that goes, ultimately, into the Waltons’ bank accounts. Think about it for two seconds, that is what’s happening.

If it was a sea of faceless shareholders, well, that’s harder to personify, but this is ONE family.

Wal-Mart is America’s #1 private employer.

And they don’t pay a living wage.

The Waltons live like pharaohs and their workforce can’t afford the necessities of life. In a very real sense they and Wal-Mart are beginning to personify everything that’s wrong with capitalism. A single family owning the equivalent of the collective wealth of the poorest third of the country? Could even Karl Marx have predicted THAT? It’s preposterous and yet… it’s the way things are.

If the Waltons wanted to change the fundamental fabric of American life for the better, they could raise their associates up to $20 an hour and set a powerful example for other companies to treat the people who DO ALL THE WORK with actual human dignity. If they did that—and studies have shown it wouldn’t hurt their bottom line much at all, and even if it did, I think they can take the hit—well, it’s a whole new America. It really would be.

But to hold back on improving the lives of so many people, that is one of the single most obscene things I can contemplate.

Up to the Waltons, of course, for now at least, but when the revolution comes—and it will eventually—it’s their heads that are going to be on the ends of sharp sticks…
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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How to say ‘NO’: Whitey’s perfect reply to a TV company who wanted to use his music for free
11.06.2013
11:12 am

Topics:
Economy
Media
Music
Television

Tags:
Whitey


 
Amidst the ongoing discussions about the value of music, British alt/rock/tronica artist Whitey has had enough of being asked to donate his music for free to large companies who, by rights, can and should be paying him. After receiving one such email from a company called Betty TV, Whitey, aka NJ White, wrote this caustic response:

I am sick to death of your hollow schtick, of the inevitable line “unfortunately there’s no budget for music”, as if some fixed Law Of The Universe handed you down a sad but immutable financial verdict preventing you from budgeting to pay for music. Your company set out the budget. so you have chosen to allocate no money for music. I get begging letters like this every week - from a booming, allfuent global media industry.

Why is this? Let’s look at who we both are.

I am a professional musician, who lives form his music. It me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me. This music is my hard earned property. I;ve licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on Earth; form Breaking Bad to the Sopranos, from Coca Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.

Ask yourself - would you approach a Creative or a Director with a resume like that - and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing? Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.

Or would you walk into someone’s home, eat from their bowl, and walk out smiling, saying “So sorry, I’ve no budget for food”? Of course you would not. Because, culturally, we classify that as theft.

Yet the culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession, leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible. You will without question pay everyone connected to a shoot - from the caterer to the grip to the extra- even the cleaner who mopped your set and scrubbed the toilets after the shoot will get paid. The musician? Give him nothing.

Now lets look at you. A quick glance at your website reveals a variety of well known, internationally syndicated reality programmes, You are a successful, financially solvent and globally recognised company with a string of hit shows. Working on multiple series in close co-operation with Channel 4, from a West London office, with a string of awards under your belt. You have real money, to pretend otherwise is an insult.

Yet you send me this shabby request - give me your property for free… Just give us what you own, we want it.

The answer is a resounding, and permanent NO.

I will now post this on my sites, forward this to several key online music sources and blogs, encourage people to re-blog this. I want to see a public discussion begin about this kind of industry abuse of musicians… this was one email too far for me. Enough. I’m sick of you.

FUCK and indeed YES.

You can see the original screen grab of this email on Whitey’s Facebook page. As Whitey is at pains to point out, he has no problem donating his music for free to companies who literally cannot afford to pay him. He told me this via email earlier today:

I don’t want payment for everything. I don’t even care that much about money, I give away my music all the time. You and I live in a society where filesharing is the norm. I’m fine with that.

But i don’t give my music away to large, affluent companies who wish to use it to make themselves more money. Who can afford to pay, but who smell the filesharing buffet and want to grab themselves a free plate. That is a different scenario.

So what do you think? I completely agree, but I’m sure there’s DM readers who don’t. Are artists and musicians simply behind the times to ask that their music be paid for by large companies? What do you think Whitey’s music IS worth?
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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