Thursday, October 02, 2008

"Is Union Brotherhood Putting Us Out of Work?"

A commenter below asks:

Are we all out of work again because of 'union brotherhood?' Ain't showing up for support this time. Too f'ing busy trying to pay for the other group of a-holes that screwed the pooch over on Wall Street.

Unionism has little to do with the job market. Bad economic policies has a lot to do with it. Studios wrestling with a fast-changing entertainment market and distribution system has a lot to do with it.

Re the economic part:

Loan brokers originated lots of questionable loans (they got way more money for creating subprime loans than the normal kind, so guess what kinds of loans they floated?)

Regulations were eliminated or suspended of two and a half decades, so there weren't a hell of a lot of circuit breakers.

The rating agencies (Standard and Poor, Moody) rated subprime as AAA, enabling the garbage to be bundled and sold worldwide. If the rating agencies had simply done their jobs and rated the junk honestly, subprime wouldn't have been sliced, diced and repackaged as something it never was -- high quality debt.

Unsupervised investment banks leveraged the phony Triple-A paper; the Securities and Exchange Commission waived leverage ratio requirements and let them go wild. Those investment banks are now gone.

Housing appraisers committed fraud over-estimating house values.

Alan Greenspan declined to clamp down and fraud and abuse, also held interest rates below inflation.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were encouraged by the Bush Administration to "get more creative" in the loans they handled, and did so.

We partied hardy for three years, and now have a huge hangover. And right now, the flow of credit has sort of dried up, which isn't real good for people who need loans or entertainment companies that want to finance movies and television shows.

But there's another problem that the entertainment congloms -- of which we're all a part -- wrestle with.

Yesterday I was at an industry lunch, and found myself seated at a table filled with high-level company execs. The talk, aside from how stocks were eating it big time, was how television ratings are tanking and the business models they have used for years are being chewed up by the internet, video games, and the omnipotent computer -- desktop, laptop, and hand-held.

Viewing audiences are down. Advertising dollars are down. And these gentlemen are flummoxed, because the old ways are not holding.

"Bridget Loves Bernie had a thirty-five share, and CBS cancelled it. The top-rated show today doesn't come close to a thirty-five share ..."

The networks would kill for a thirty-five share today, whether the program was getting hate mail or not. But those days are over.

So companies cast about for a new hit, something along the lines of Sponge Bob Square Pants or Fairly Odd Parents, and try desperately to keep costs down as they struggle to lift their market share.

If you wonder why employment is so choppy right now, if you scratch your head over the quick, project-to-project employment cycles and the close-to-scale wages, look no further than the cratering economy and the turbulent changes ricocheting through the entertainment industry.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Okay, so it is our SAG union brothers that are going to push us all over the edge of the cliff. Thanks for clearing that up.

Nelson C. Woodstock said...

If you want to go back even further in time, the Amos 'n' Andy radio program would get a 95 share. Life was great in radio until mean ol' television came along.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so it is our SAG union brothers that are going to push us all over the edge of the cliff. Thanks for clearing that up.

Sure, of course. Corporate greed ... eight years of Republicans running the conomy into the ground ... cosmic changes to the production model in entertainment ... none of the things Hulett mentioned in his post had anything to do with it. It's all SAG's fault.

Hope you can afford the same quality reefer on unemployment.

Anonymous said...

Drop the anti-corporatist dogma. It's as bad as Bush's Axis of Evil one-liners. Let's all take a big breath and think a little before we mindlessly swing the mob pendulum back into the complete opposite direction. We Americans tend to knee jerk everything - have you not noticed?

Bernanke and Paulson are a day late and about 4 trillion short. Alan and Doug are a day late and AFTRA short. At the end of the day, they are all costing people who actually work for a living a fortune. They are guilty of a failure to lead. You can hear the drip-drip-drip of income bleeding out of America in both cases. It's f'ing water torture already. Chinese, no less.

Alan and Doug are big boys. Fellow LA labor leaders can afford to hold them accountable for screwing the pooch in the union 'brotherhood' department. So spare us the Ted Rall anachronisms.

They can get some Detroit teamsters to walk the line with them. Oh, wait. Detroit doesn't exist anymore.

Anonymous said...

thats correct.

Anonymous said...

"take a big breath and think a little before we mindlessly swing the mob pendulum back into the complete opposite direction"

Obviously said by a newcomer without much historical insight.

The industry business model (and our country) are so far to the right you'd need an Indy 500 worth of left turns to get things anywhere close being back in the center.

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