Sunday, April 01, 2007

Income Haves, Income Have-Nots

A pause in the 'tooning for a little economic news: The New York Times tells us that income disparity in the U.S. of A. has been growing (now there's a surprise)...

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.

The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.

While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

Many in the entertainment business make good money, but the good money is often spotty: Great when you're employed on a project, and not-great when you're scrambling around for the next gig.

We post this because it's always a good idea to keep an eye on the big picture, even as you work to improve your smaller one.

42 comments:

a republican union member said...

Gee, this wouldn't be a politically motivated post, would it?

I'd hate to think that my union dues were going for something like that.

Most people don't "have" money, they "EARN" money.

Generally, people with skills that are "WORTH" more money "EARN" more money.

Anonymous said...

So, what's your point? What you posted does not change the facts of what he posted.

Anonymous said...

John Dickinson (addressing John Hancock): "History will brand him [John Adams] and his followers as traitors.

Hancock: Traitors to what, Mr. Dickinson- The British Crown, or the British *half-crown*? Fortunately, there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy.

Dickinson: Perhaps not, but don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. And that is why they will follow us.

Steve Hulett said...

Repub:

This blog costs union members exactly zero. Blogspot costs nothing.

And of course you're right. We live in a meritocracy. Everyone who's rich achieved it on their own, from the sweat of their brow. Or maybe sliding down the right birth canal.

And everyone who's poor deserves it.

Thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

Eh--the repub is only upset because he's embarrassed by the current administration, the most corrupt in U.S. History, with a "leader" who will is very possibly the worst president in U.S. History. More power to him if he's conservative, but that doesn't mean he's a republican. And that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

By the way, that's Canuck coinage in the picture! Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

...that's 'cause all the U.S. taxpayer money has been disappeared to a shameful and disasterous "war" in Iraq instead of the "war" on terror.

Support our TROOPS! Bring them home.

Anonymous said...

Well I'll be... a Republican union member! Must be KILLING you. ;-)

Numbers are numbers pal. Funny how you "conservatives" get so sensitive when the plain facts are set out.

Regarding your convenient rationale that those with skills that are "worth" more earn more, tell that to the school teacher who can only dream of making half of what the average pixel-pusher pulls down.

republican said...

I don't know why I bother...

anon#1: They're posting more than 'facts'... they're editorializing and making the case that the gap between the ill-phrased "haves" and "have nots" is widening because of some imaginary governmental plot to make rich people richer and poor people poorer, thus making the union's so-called "purpose" seem more vital to the average worker when, in fact, unions do nothing but impede a worker's ability to actually earn at their full potential by making it virtually impossible for businesses to weed out shitty employees.

Steve: Nice try. Yeah, the blog costs nothing, but the union runs on our dues. As a union representative paid by us, you owe it to us to keep your personal political ideas to yourself and not use our funds to push your agendas - no matter how subtlely.
Actually, you're not very subtle at all... your sarcastic little statement speaks volumes:
"Everyone who's rich achieved it on their own, from the sweat of their brow. Or maybe sliding down the right birth canal. And everyone who's poor deserves it."
This is a typical armchair-socialist thing to say.
So I guess we can assume that if you were very wealthy, you wouldn't pass any of your wealth on to your kids or grandkids, huh? I guess you'd give it all to poor people. Right.
Thank you for your moralizing, but I think I'll be the one to decide who to share my tiny bits of extra money with based on MY morality, not yours.
Oh, wait... I don't have a choice. The government and unions decide where my money goes. My bad.

anon#3: What a thoughtful and intelligent response... why not just say "my dad can beat up your dad" or better yet just "nyeah nyeah nyeah"? Those are packed with just as much political punch as what you said.

anon#5: It must be nice to live in a world where your political beliefs are dictated by the popular rhetoric of the day and nifty catchphrases instead of pesky and sometimes painful things like "facts" and "objective reasoning."
Shrowding yourself in this Mtv-style liberal morality is so much easier than actually studying history and exploring the issues with some sense of perspective.
I'm STILL waiting to hear what the democrats brilliant strategy for the war would have been. If they had any ideas they're still not sharing them with the rest of us.

anon#6: The "facts" as conveniently filtered through unapologetically biased sources.
And, yes, the fact that I'm forced to be in a union does kill me. I feel like I'm a tool of the mob (but at least mobsters are capitalists and not commu-fascists).
"Worth" is determined by the marketplace, genius. If you take a concept as subjective as "worth" out of the context of an individual determination, you risk creating a theocracy where the government decides what has "worth" and what is "moral".
If the average American would rather spend their money on flashy CGI movies over education, that's their right. Ya see, it's called "freedom". I know it's a crazy concept, but my money is MY money - I decide what's worth spending it on... not you.
I realize that all of you browbeaten taxpayers have been brainwashed into thinking that we should all just throw our money into a big hat and distribute every penny equally, but - despite the best efforts of the currently ultra-liberal-almost-socialist democratic party (someone clone JFK please... he'd make a great republican today) that's not how a democracy works.
And by the way, it's not "Joe-America" that's keeping teachers' salaries down... it's their union.
If schools had the power to actually fire shitty teachers, then GOOD teachers would be treated like rock stars.
But, alas, the union's job is to convince everyone that they need a union. So they have all of these poor teachers brainwashed that without their precious union they would be like lambs to the slaughter.

Well, now that I've bored you all with actual logic, you can ignore it completely and go back to forming your opinions around "The Daily Show with John Stewart".

Anonymous said...

:) at Republican. Great post.


BTW, about the teachers. I have a friend who's wife is a teacher in the LA public schools. They are pretty much set for life. Everytime I hear people complain about how screwed over teachers get, I think about their guranteed employment for life and receiving .. what is it? 90% of their salary after retirement? Now that is the biggest scam going. BTW- she earns more than $90k a year and gets those summer months off. Maybe I should switch careers.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with republican's sentiments.

It's a shame I have to be anonymous, but all of the so-called 'open-minded' liberals I work with would lynch me if they knew I was republican.

Steve Hulett said...

Nice try. Yeah, the blog costs nothing, but the union runs on our dues. As a union representative paid by us, you owe it to us to keep your personal political ideas to yourself and not use our funds to push your agendas - no matter how subtlely.

Sorry, but I didn't check my political beliefs at the door when running for the job, or after. And nowhere is it written that I'm supposed to keep my "political beliefs" to myself.

This job is an elected post; if you don't like my views or the way TAG is run, vote me out.

Actually, you're not very subtle at all... your sarcastic little statement speaks volumes:

"Everyone who's rich achieved it on their own, from the sweat of their brow. Or maybe sliding down the right birth canal. And everyone who's poor deserves it."


Hey, I never said I was subtle. That's your description, not mine.

This is a typical armchair-socialist thing to say.

So I guess we can assume that if you were very wealthy, you wouldn't pass any of your wealth on to your kids or grandkids, huh? I guess you'd give it all to poor people. Right.

Where this comes from I haven't the foggiest. I linked to an article by the horrid New York Times saying that income disparity has grown. You appear to believe it's part of a commie plot, and inaccurate. Demonstrate, please. And show your work.

Thank you for your moralizing, but I think I'll be the one to decide who to share my tiny bits of extra money with based on MY morality, not yours.

Oh, wait... I don't have a choice. The government and unions decide where my money goes. My bad.

Here's a dirty little secret: Governments and unions are democratic institutions. In other words, we elect reps to run the institutions enshrined in law (levy taxes, wage war, fund roads, negotiate labor contracts, things like that.) You don't like the way these things are run, exercise your democratic rights and change them.

One more thing: the Supreme Court has ruled that NO one is required to be a member of a labor union. Individuals who elect to opt out are only required to pay those dues that go toward contract administration and enforcement. They aren't required to pay for "political stuff" with which they don't agree.

So. What could be more fair than that?

republican said...

Oh brother...

"Sorry, but I didn't check my political beliefs at the door when running for the job, or after. And nowhere is it written that I'm supposed to keep my "political beliefs" to myself."

Yeah, because your personal political beliefs are so very relevant to the needs of the animation community. What's next? Are you going to tell us which god we should pray to and what foods we should eat?

"This job is an elected post; if you don't like my views or the way TAG is run, vote me out."

Nothing would please me more. Of course, people who are active in the union have already been sold on the snakeoil that the union actually serves some purpose, so the cards are obviously stacked in your favor.

"So I guess we can assume that if you were very wealthy, you wouldn't pass any of your wealth on to your kids or grandkids, huh? I guess you'd give it all to poor people. Right.

Where this comes from I haven't the foggiest."

You made a snide comment about people being rich by virtue of which birth canal they slid out of, as if people who are born into wealth are somehow guilty of some crime. That's where it came from. Sorry if the logic went over your head.

I never disputed the facts of the NY Times article, I take offense at your interpretation of what those facts mean.
By convincing everyone that we're always on the verge of being 'stepped on' by the wealthy you perpetuate the laughable myth that without the union we'd all be doomed.

"Here's a dirty little secret: Governments and unions are democratic institutions. In other words, we elect reps to run the institutions enshrined in law (levy taxes, wage war, fund roads, negotiate labor contracts, things like that.) You don't like the way these things are run, exercise your democratic rights and change them."

Yeah... aint that great? Except, of course, the news media (which, unless you are an utterly blind fool you must admit is obviously slanted towards its own liberal agenda) and the union (which you've just admitted to everyone, is obviously slanted towards your own liberal agenda) don't deal in objective facts geared to allow people to draw their own conclusions. Both deal in self-perpetuating bureaucracies aimed at maintaining their positions of influence and power.

"One more thing: the Supreme Court has ruled that NO one is required to be a member of a labor union."

Granted. Of course, if you're an animator in L.A. and you don't want to live on the streets, you have to work for union shops.

"They aren't required to pay for "political stuff" with which they don't agree."

And you HATE that don't you? I take some satisfaction in that.

"So. What could be more fair than that?"

Seems to me what would be fair is if studios could just hire whoever they wanted. That way, everyone is on a level playing field.

I could negotiate my own pay, title and hours and hire whoever I wanted without hearing "Oh, the union wouldn't let us do that" every two seconds.

We're not coal miners or steel workers from some bygone era. Unions are obsolete.

Steve Hulett said...

You made a snide comment about people being rich by virtue of which birth canal they slid out of, as if people who are born into wealth are somehow guilty of some crime. That's where it came from. Sorry if the logic went over your head.

Ah, there's a breathtaking leap and large assumption. Actually the comment was only in response to your assertion that wealth is based on merit. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. As I said earlier, there's the happy accident of birth to consider, also the country you reside in, etc.

I never disputed the facts of the NY Times article, I take offense at your interpretation of what those facts mean.

Good to know. For a moment there...

By convincing everyone that we're always on the verge of being 'stepped on' by the wealthy you perpetuate the laughable myth that without the union we'd all be doomed.

Another breathtaking assumption unsupported by facts.

"Here's a dirty little secret: Governments and unions are democratic institutions. In other words, we elect reps to run the institutions enshrined in law (levy taxes, wage war, fund roads, negotiate labor contracts, things like that.) You don't like the way these things are run, exercise your democratic rights and change them."

Yeah... aint that great? Except, of course, the news media (which, unless you are an utterly blind fool you must admit is obviously slanted towards its own liberal agenda).


Count me as blind then, because I don't think there is a "liberal media." I think there's a corporate media, bent on making profits. (And for the record, I see nothing wrong with profits...)

Your assertions are fine -- as are your loaded adverbs, but show me stats re "liberal bias." And again, show your work (i.e. source it.)

...and the union (which you've just admitted to everyone, is obviously slanted towards your own liberal agenda)...

Yeah, like that's a deep dark secret. Liberal unions.

...don't deal in objective facts geared to allow people to draw their own conclusions. Both deal in self-perpetuating bureaucracies aimed at maintaining their positions of influence and power.

For sure. Just ask Tom Delay.

"One more thing: the Supreme Court has ruled that NO one is required to be a member of a labor union."

Granted. Of course, if you're an animator in L.A. and you don't want to live on the streets, you have to work for union shops.


Actually, there's a number of non-union places. Not as many as formerly, since Gabor's place went under and I managed to bamboozle all those gullible artists at Film Roman. But there's still some.

"They aren't required to pay for "political stuff" with which they don't agree."

And you HATE that don't you? I take some satisfaction in that.


No, Repub, I think it's a perfectly reasonable compromise by the Supreme Court. And I have no problem with it.

But you obviously assume I'm somebody I'm not (you seem to be good at assumptions, whoever you are.)

But to throw a little light on the subject (moi): I was an Eisenhower Republican early on, then a Goldwater supporter who later voted for Reagan (R) in his second term as governor.

Voted for Nixon (R). Voted for John Anderson (R-Ind.)

The Republican for whom I most recently cast my ballot was Steve Cooley, the current L.A. attorney.

I sure am in lock-step with armchair socialists, aren't I?

Just for laughs, how many Democrats have you voted for?

Steve Hulett said...

Seems to me what would be fair is if studios could just hire whoever they wanted. That way, everyone is on a level playing field.

Uh, the studios can hire anyone they want.

In the decade and a half I've been doing this, not once have studios failed to hire anyone they wanted to. Union members, non-members, didn't (and doesn't) matter. Under Federal law, nobody can be refused employment because they aren't a union member.

There have been a couple of times (maybe three) that TAG has attempted to block foreign workers whom it believed to be unqualified under O-1 regulations from working in the U.S. But guess what? Those workers were still allowed in by the immigration service.

So rest easy, Republican. Studio have wide leeway. And they use it.

Dr. Dour said...

BTW, about the teachers. I have a friend who's wife is a teacher in the LA public schools. They are pretty much set for life. Everytime I hear people complain about how screwed over teachers get, I think about their guranteed employment for life and receiving .. what is it? 90% of their salary after retirement? Now that is the biggest scam going. BTW- she earns more than $90k a year and gets those summer months off. Maybe I should switch careers.

For what it's worth, I spent three and a half years teaching in public and private schools.

Far and away the hardest job I've had. Far harder than working in the 'toon business.

Anonymous said...

I with the republican on this one. Thats always been a problem with the union, how one sided it is.

Brian said...

I'm NOT with the Republican on this. Of course the Union is one-sided--that's its purpose. To be on one side. Management (which has its own Union, called the Board of Directors) is also one-sided--their own. That's reality. Cold, hard reality. Apparently some Republicans live in happy rainbow hippie land.

Unions are indeed generally 'liberal', if only because the forces that seek to roll back worker's rights, compensation, loss of overtime, etc. consistently creep from the Republican side of the aisle.

While I agree that most of the workplace issues that needed reform in the 20's have been successfully legislated into law, I have no doubt that without the continued pushback of unions, we would certainly see the steady evisceration of those laws. Human nature is no different now than 80 years ago--we've even seen attempts at this from the Bush Administration's disregard of the Labor Relations Board. And that's a documentable fact.

Anonymous said...

Hey republican, lay off the sauce.

Anonymous said...

Of course, if you're an animator in L.A. and you don't want to live on the streets, you have to work for union shops.

Sir, I've earned a living out here since 1999 as a VFX artist. With the exception of six months or so, all of my work has been non-union. I've seen many more non-union shops out there than union shops. The number increases when you consider the video game industry.

Nobody's forcing you to work at union shops...unless you desperately need the health insurance, 401(k) and pension.

-+-

As for myself, I can only hope I land more union work in the future.

Anonymous said...

Seeing as how we live in historically liberal/progressive country (the U.S.A.), I have no problem with the Union standing for what a majority of Americans want.

Anonymous said...

republikan's so-called "logic" is empty rehtoric ladled with a dollop of fringe wingnut silliness---mostly parroted from lame, drug addled low rated radio hosts...

republican said...

Wow... you sure all put me in my place, by golly. What compelling arguments you all make.
I guess you're all just too smart for me.
I'll just shut up now and let you genuises from the liberal intellectual elite decide what's best from now on.
Thank you so much for taking care of us poor helpless dopes. We could never do it without you smart people.

Brian said...

So...you're taking your ball and going home?

Anonymous said...

I doubt "republican union member" was ever an animator in the first place, much less a union animator.

Someone that upset about being "forced to be in a union" would have left for the non-union animation world a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of non union animation opportunities in other cities. Heck some of the best films come from those places. Maybe thats where folks can go if they are so upset with the Union's political position.

benjamin said...

As a Libertarian, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell Democrats and Republicans that BOTH parties are completely devoid of whatever merit they once had.

Anonymous said...

"So rest easy, Republican. Studio have wide leeway. And they use it."
"Nobody's forcing you to work at union shops...unless you desperately need the health insurance, 401(k) and pension."
"Actually, there's a number of non-union places. Not as many as formerly, since Gabor's place went under and I managed to bamboozle all those gullible artists at Film Roman."

So wait a minute... I just discovered the guild blog a few days ago and I've been following these debates and I'm really confused about something...
What, exactly, do we really need a union for? I mean, if shops can hire whoever they want and fire whoever they want and everything is all even and equal whether you're in the guild or not, what's the point?

Anonymous said...

From what I've seen, everything's not "all even and equal whether you're in the Guild or not." Vested union members get pensions and health insurance for the rest of their lives after they retire. Everyone else needs to find alternate means of survival when struck by old age.

Anonymous said...

"What, exactly, do we really need a union for?"

Nothing personal but, for the love of god (or satan) do some research.

Kevin Geiger said...

> I'm STILL waiting to hear what
> the democrats brilliant strategy
> for the war would have been.

How about this: "Don't go in."

Unfortunately, our feckless leaders gave W. a blank check - based upon fear, not facts.

Steve Hulett said...

"So rest easy, Republican. Studio have wide leeway. And they use it."
"Nobody's forcing you to work at union shops...unless you desperately need the health insurance, 401(k) and pension."
"Actually, there's a number of non-union places. Not as many as formerly, since Gabor's place went under and I managed to bamboozle all those gullible artists at Film Roman."

So wait a minute... I just discovered the guild blog a few days ago and I've been following these debates and I'm really confused about something...
What, exactly, do we really need a union for? I mean, if shops can hire whoever they want and fire whoever they want and everything is all even and equal whether you're in the guild or not, what's the point?


Here's the deal: Federal law mandates that it's against the law to discriminate in hiring based on race, creed, union membership, etc.

In non "right to work" states, of which California is one, individuals hired are -- in most cases -- required to join a union after a short period of time or declare "financial core" status, which means they still pay initiation fees and dues which go to running the union and administering contracts, but they're not union members subject to following union rules.

As to "what's the diff?" between union and non-union shops, that one is easy: contract minimums and benefit packages. In general, both are richer at union shops than non-union shops.

I suggest you look at historical economic stats. Wages are, for the most part lower, in "right-to-work states" than non right to work jurisdictions. This is one reason that a lot of retirees from high wage states end up in "right to work" states after retirement. Living costs are lower because most of the locals make less money.

Um... said...

"As to "what's the diff?" between union and non-union shops, that one is easy: contract minimums and benefit packages. In general, both are richer at union shops than non-union shops."

Hi...
I don't happen to be one of these "I hate the union" folks, but I do feel compelled to point out that in my personal experience, the pay and benefits have always been significantly better for me at non-union shops, and I've gone back and forth between union and nonunion shops over the past 20 years.

republican said...

Brian said...
So...you're taking your ball and going home?

What's the point in trying to talk sense to a bunch of people who don't believe in logic?
So-called open-minded liberals are never quite open-minded enough to consider different viewpoints because they love to shroud themselves in their hippie morality.

As much as I'd love to spend my days reversing all the brainwashing you've all fallen victim to, I have to EARN a living.

Enjoy my dues.

Anonymous said...

What's the point in trying to talk sense to a bunch of people who don't believe in logic?

Flattery will get you nowhere, sir.

If you hate the union so much, just leave. Go work in the games industry, the comics industry or the VFX industry. That way you won't suffer any more union dues, and you also won't suffer the security of the union's pension and health insurance in your old age.

Brian said...

Yes, it really comes down to taking personal responsibility for the choices you make in life.

I would not work or participate in an organization that was counter to my values and ethics. No one is holding a gun to your head, forcing you to work for a unionized studio. You have complete freedom to go elsewhere so that you will not contribute to any further union activity.

I should think this would be a much more proactive solution to your troubles than merely staying and complaining.

Anonymous said...

you have to admit, the top 2 animation studios in the industry are not union, or 3 if you add the colleagues down under.

s.r. hulett said...

I don't happen to be one of these "I hate the union" folks, but I do feel compelled to point out that in my personal experience, the pay and benefits have always been significantly better for me at non-union shops, and I've gone back and forth between union and nonunion shops over the past 20 years.

Depends on your classification and, of course, the studio.

I know non-union studios that pay better wages than some union studios. And I know the reverse.

One example: Film Roman, in its early days, was very competitive with union shops in pay and benefits. It was when its wages, health and pension bennies grew worse that its employees decided to organize it.

(TAG had little to do with the organizing, by the way. It was an employee-driven event.)

Anonymous said...

Um... said... I don't happen to be one of these "I hate the union" folks, but I do feel compelled to point out that in my personal experience, the pay and benefits have always been significantly better for me at non-union shops, and I've gone back and forth between union and nonunion shops over the past 20 years.

That's probably because you were very good at what you do and you were payed based on merit. Unions care less about merit and more about equity. Lower the pay for the best, raise the pay for the worst and everyone is equal and happy... right?

;)

Anonymous said...

Unions care less about merit and more about equity. Lower the pay for the best, raise the pay for the worst and everyone is equal and happy... right?

;)


As I understand it, one of the best-paid animators in history is Glen Keane, who's worked at a union studio for decades. Animation fans also regard Glen Keane as one of the best animators in history, so it does not look like the union in any way holds back salaries for the "best" animators.

Brian said...

Lower the pay for the best, raise the pay for the worst and everyone is equal and happy

When has the union ever tried to "lower the pay for the best"? All it sets are minimums, never maximums.

Seriously, I'm trying to decide if you're incredibly stupid, or just incredibly ignorant. Either way, not very flattering for you.

s.r. hulett said...

Each and every Hollywood labor union, from SAG to the WGA to the IA, negotiates only wage floors. Not ceilings.

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