One Intersection near my home is a cash cow for the city. Every other intersection in the area has pedestrian lights that count down to zero, then there is a pause, then the main light turns yellow. On this one there is no pause. Plus the yellows are the shortest around.
Some close friends of mine were in a band that broke up largely because of disputes with the IRS. Way to go revenuers, you made the world a sadder place all over a couple thousand dollars.
It's also clearly true that the IRS gives preference to large businesses. An energy company can write off billions in investments and tools and equipment each year, but I can't deduct expenses for personal tools I'm required to provide because I'm too small.
When crew members share discs with each other, when producers do it, whoever, no one pretends it's all on the up and up. You don't do it in front of a suit from corporate, you don't talk about it. These people understand its infringement. But there is, as I have pointed out, a consciousness about whether it's low grade or personal infringement vs. massive scale infringement. Do the one and the bosses look the other way, do the other and you lose your job.
So very true. The crews I work with trade burned DVDs and mp3s frequently. It's not uncommon to hear a producer say to an actor "...oh, you should see that. I'll burn you a copy". It's simply the most convenient way. One thing to keep in mind about the industry is that the crew in the trenches, even lower level producers, have little love for the accountants/lawyers/exec. producers/CEOs at the top of the food chain. About as much in common as a liberal democrat working stiff bank teller has with the CEO of BofA.
To be fair though, we must note the author's final paragraph. We feel no guilt at sharing a DVD with a friend, but very few of us would upload a torrent of something high profile. If copyright infringment never expanded beyond an occasional copy of a DVD between friends, the freakout that led to SOPA would not have happened, or would have been much attenuated. It's the mass sharing that really has the CEOs and shareholders worried. Since distribution is moving almost wholesale to an online scenario it has them doubly freaked about the future.
Well, I'm with you in not being very happy about the rate of union dues. But let's compare what I've made on some shows I've worked on: non-union: made anywhere from sub minimum wage to about 15.00/hour, no medical plan and the working conditions are usually harder. Union: 17.00 to 24.00/hour with excellent medical coverage for me and my fam, and the working conditions are always better. But I pay 3% of my wages in dues. Sounds like union is the way to go -if your serious about making a career in this business.
By share examples I assume you mean states that have done film incentives "the right way"(?)
I don't really have detailed figures, just rough information for my own state. I also know (as everyone in the industry does) that production is booming in New Mexico, Louisiana and the Carolinas (South in particular). And obviously the whole incentive/kickback/corporate welfare program was popularized in the first place by British Columbia and Ontario back in the 90's. I am not an accountant, and I realize there is debate about it, but most people seem to feel those areas have had a worthwhile payoff from their incentive programs.
We all expected the Michigan incentive program was going to be a debacle from the get go. Too much money was promised, there was no way that was going to be worth it. They also didn't have an overabundance of experienced crew -it was never a particularly big production zone before the incentives, therefore a large proportion of the crew flew in from around the country (contrary to popular belief we don't all live in L.A.). Few were surprised at the amount of corruption either, I don't mean to cast aspersions, but the big cities in this area were always known for cronyism and political corruption.
I've long had a somewhat jaundiced view of film incentive programs -ever since Canada introduced them in a big way in the 90's and all the production left the good ole U.S. chasing the free money.
That said, there are ways to do it right and ways to make a complete debacle of it. Michigan would be an example of the latter. My own state kicks back a few million, and as a result has attracted more than 50 million in local spending (yes, that's only the local portion of the budgets, another big chunk is spent out of state. And before you self proclaimed experts who have never been on a movie set start offering your expert testimony, let me assure you the wages are not all paid to flown-in "Hollywood" technicians, 70-80% of our crew is local).
I know you hate everything related to "Hollywood" because you connect it to shite like SOPA and those asshats in the MPAA, but let's have some perspective here; lot's of corporate interests run the same kind of scams. It's the way big-business is done now. "Hollywood accounting" is no different from "Wall Street accounting" or "Multi-national Corporation accounting"
Now I've got to get back to my job working hard to entertain you.
It was pretty funny a few years ago when the translators weren't quite as good. Find a porn website, preferably one with a lot of verbal descriptions of the videos. Run it through auto translate into Japanese, then into German, then back to English. I know, I'm easily amused.
In 15 years working in movies and TV production, I have worked for all the big name studios you would recognize. Never once has my pay stub said anything like "Paramount, Disney, Universal". It's always some shell company you've never heard of.
Hollywood accounting absolutely needs to be reformed. But then again, as pointed out above, our entire system of banking, trading and financing needs to be reformed even more urgently.
I realize I'm not going to get much agreement here, but I have to say the pervasive environment of depicted violence very much does affect the minds of developing children.
About 20 years ago I was working at a community television station, and we did a lot of research, debate and discussion about media literacy. One area I looked into was the effects of TV and videogames on developing children. The results are chilling. Even relatively modest daily schedules of screen time produce physical changes in a growing brain. It was/is also obvious, and should be to anyone with common sense, that being exposed to graphic depicted carnage everyday for hours will have an effect on a persons mind.
Will most violent gamers go on to commit real acts of violence? Of course not. Most people remain well enough adapted that they function fine in the real world. But you are not being honest to say it doesn't affect them at all.
This desensitization to violence, along with constant depiction of heroes with guns as the primary role model, along with the cyber-vulture like news coverage of every tragedy all contribute to the popularity of mass killing spree as a form of suicide for those who are already on the edge.
I am not in favor of censorship. I tend to agree with those who hold that it is the responsibility of parents to shield their children from violent content. I also realize that, given the modern environment of advertising, it can be pretty difficult to do that. My daughter, who is 9, thinks I am an unreasonable tyrant because I won't allow videogames in the house. All her friends at school kill zombies and jack cars every night!
I tend to enjoy action movies myself, but I don't tell myself that they aren't part of the problem, they are. Those of you who love and promote these games, please enjoy them. I would certainly not try to censor your favorite mode of entertainment. But don't try to avoid responsibility for your part of the problem. Violent videogames are one part of a sick and depraved culture of violence that tends to push some weaker minded individuals over the edge.
Of course violent videogames are "one of the causes" (if we must put it that way) of mass killings. However they are only a small stick among the many that form a huge scaffold.
We must stop to remind ourselves that people who commit acts like this are mentally ill and usually suicidal. To ascribe normal reasoning processes to them is a bit of a stretch. But we can probably understand some of what goes through their heads. At the heart of our world is a dogma that equates being a real man with being a warrior. This is millennia old. This cultural mythos is reinforced throughout our culture in movies, TV, videogames, comics, magazines, books and on and on. It so happens that the modern definition of warrior includes carrying some high power guns, so that becomes part of the mythos.
When a certain kind of mentally ill person tries to process that mythos and be a "real man", bad things can happen.
I certainly do find the violence in video games disturbing and think we should take notice and question it, however we just as much should question all those other cultural influences. Unfortunately for video game enthusiasts, it is largely a young persons hobby, and most politicians are old. They are much more likely to focus blame on the newfangled thing they don't much care about rather than examine the media they have been enjoying all their lives.
Got to watch out for "people with average or above average intelligence". Wouldn't want to have anyone smarter than, say, Ted Nugent just walking around would we? Especially not in Jacksonville. I guess it is a pretty red state after all.
Great discussion. I didn't realize so many techdirt followers were amateur economists but I guess I should have.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned much is "reward for non-productive activity". Patent trolling is an example often discussed here, but the big kahuna by many orders of magnitude is derivatives trading and the like on by "Wall Street" and it's global analogues. The volume of trades on "synthetic financial instruments" is in the 10's of trillions any given year now. In normal economic activity, I produce a product (or service),and am paid a reasonable amount for it, so now there exists a tangible product in the world which fulfills a need. But Wall Street speculators never produce any tangible product of any use to anybody! They turn on their computer, push numbers around on a screen, and at the end of the day are rewarded with $20,000 (or $20 mil) more in their bank account. They didn't produce any product or service of any value to anyone, yet the economy still has to account for the money they are now holding. And the volume of this kind of activity is staggering. No economy could work with this kind of unproductive weight pushing down on it from the top.
I also think, especially in terms of the U.S. economy, you are underestimating the impact of automation and outsourcing. We've shipped several tens of millions of relatively high wage factory jobs to Asia and Mexico in the last two decades, and the average factory still here employs significantly fewer workers because of automation. Population keeps going up, people retiring later, -how could we not have a high unemployment rate?
Capitalism is obsolete
"In theory, we should all be working fewer hours now because it takes fewer manhours to product many things. But instead we have some people working long hours and others not working at all. And it isn't just a skills issue. We need people in childcare, elder care, and care of the disabled, but we don't want to pay people much to do these jobs."
If we divided up all the work that really needs to be done, and assigned it equally to all the available workers, we would all be working about 20-30 hours a week. But of course those of us who can compete won't do that because then your family is living in poverty. I average 60 hours a week so that my family can have a decent standard of living. My neighbor is jobless and broke and is going to lose his house. Such is the result of capitalism.
And let's look at some important jobs that aren't getting done: environmental restoration and infrastructure restoration. There are plenty of workers looking for work but no one can hire them to get this urgently needed work done because it isn't profitable. Patent trolling and foreclosing houses on poor families is handsomely rewarded by the system but things the world and it's people really need are not. Such is the result of capitalism.
It is high time we move past systems of artificial scarcity and into a more humane and sane economic system. In the future people will look back at capitalism and regard the same way we do feudalism now: an outmoded economic system that was a step on the way to something better.