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July 2008

One big cause of America's increasing inequality

I am so glad to know that not all the inequality in the U.S. is due to evil hedge-fund managers, evil bankers, and evil speculators. (And Peter Coyote then asks the superstars to share the wealth. Read the whole thing.)

Since 1990 the earnings of the top leading actors have increased exponentially while the salaries of nearly all other actors have been systematically driven down.  In many cases, the earnings of established character actors have been rolled back by 60-70 percent.  This occurs, in large part, because the working professional (as opposed to the star) is at a disadvantage when negotiating in the new corporatized production environment. We do not possess a unique, marketable (and often media exploited) brand, and consequently lack the power to make or break the existence or profitability of a film. Consequently, respected, veteran actors with numerous credits and hard-earned “quotes” now routinely receive "take-it-or-leave it" offers, often at “scale”---a beginners wage.

Note: If Radar's recent report, "Who Killed the Movie Star? Hollywood's A-List Idols Are Losing Their Movie-Selling Mojo", is right, the situation he is decrying won't last much longer.

Southwest Airlines: making it look easy

Joe Brancatelli:

By some estimates, the country's major carriers have consumed perhaps $100 billion in capital during the past decade, but Southwest Airlines continues to be profitable. It's been in the black for 33 consecutive years . . . Its balance sheet, with about $3 billion in cash on hand and $600 million in available credit, is the envy of an otherwise fuel-price-ravaged industry.

Michael Lewis snarkily predicts worse is coming for the airlines.