Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Simpson's Negotiations Finally Over

I have been following the Simpson's negotiations for some time now, I play Warhammer with one of the shows many directors. Well, when I have time to play Warhammer I do. He had been worried about the future of the show, and his own job, and had laid a lot of the blame on certain members of the cast who shall remain nameless here, but who starred in This is Spinal Tap. Anyway it looks like the negotiations are over. The Hollywood Reporter has some good, but journalistic and dry, articles on the struggle. But the article that really tickled my fancy was this one from the LA Weekly. The Weekly is one of my favorite newspapers, it does what independent press is supposed to do when covering local politics. That is to say, it actually covers the underbelly of local politics. As a member of the Village Voice press, it has a certain artistic slant, but even I sometimes feel snooty.

Anyway, here is a snippit:

"But this is Hollywood, and no one’s claiming to cure cancer here. Which is why these negotiations are like a game of five-card stud, all about who’s bluffing, who’s buying the pot and who’s leaving money on the table. “If you memorialize the process of playing poker, and let everybody else at the table know how you played your hand,” one participant explains, “that makes you a less effective poker player for the next game. It’s simple pragmatism.”"

Oh, and in case you were wondering how much these "slaves of the corporate world" were making per episode, "But they did double their salaries (reportedly from $135,000 to $250,000 per episode) and they did get a signing bonus." There are approximately 22 episodes a season so each cast member makes $5.5 million a season. Or to put it another way, enough to pay for 100 graduate USC productions on 35mm ($55,000). Or 100 "Supersize Me" documentaries on DV cam. Or 100 newly graduated law students to do 60 hours a week work for you for a year. That's per actor. Of course the show's profits are in the billions, so change each of the afore mentioned scenarios by a factor of 1000. This is not to say that I don't think they "deserve" their paychecks or am anti-corporate. I am not and do.

As I often say about baseball players salaries, when comparing them to teachers salaries, "If there were only 750 teachers and they had 150 million students, then they would have a starting salary of $250,000 with a top salary of 20 mil too." But there aren't. On average, unless made smaller by law, the average teacher has 30 students and makes $43,000 a year (that's a national average from Mother Jones magazine so I a sure it is biased low) which is a cost per pupil of $1,433.33 (that doesn't include the cost of textbooks or facilities or materials). Not a small burden for a lower income family if they had to pay it out of their own pocket. Another way of looking at it would be that it takes 30 people making a teacher's salary 3% of their income to pay teachers. Given that in California the State Income Tax is set at about 6%, and the average income is probably similar(I don't have a Califonia avg income figure though the actual avg teacher salary in CA is $52k), and education is half of California's budget, it looks about right. Administators in CA start at about double what a teacher makes (65+ at elementary and 85+ for superintendents). But colleges can be where the money is at. While Cal State full Professors top out at around 85k, Profs at my college CGU top out at 104.7k. Hmm... Maybe I will rethink academia.

I don't know what any of the above really means. Except that I think that teachers make a "fair" amount of money and maybe should make a "good" amount of money. Though a "household income" of 86k for two married teachers (National Avg.) is significantly above the income of my neighborhood. Maybe that's it. I see my neighbor's struggling to get by, and the people teaching their children (who make almost twice what my neighbors make) are complaining about not making enough. I guess it is all economies of scale. Teaching is undoubtedly a centrally important job in our society, particularly if you want to get an extremely well paying job, and retail service jobs don't have as big an impact on society (on a job by job basis).
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