From time to time there are much -publicized and orchestrated media campaigns aimed at ‘Big Business’ and we are all encouraged to get angry about the salaries and pay-offs to CEO’s and Board Directors. Quite often the media-revealed payments do border on the obscene, especially when the CEO concerned is departing a company that has lost money or market share.
It is hard not to suspect that the Wall Street clique in particular have a knack of looking after each other and that it is small shareholders and workers who get taken for a ride. I long ago stopped investing in stocks and began putting any spare money I had into bricks and mortar (sheet rock in California!), on the basis that I was in control of what I was doing. I am sure that the only people who make real money (after tax) from stocks are those with insider information. Financial Advisors are always telling me that I am wrong and that stocks outperform property, but I prefer to believe my lying eyes.
Still, Big Business serves some good functions in our society, and as Joseph Schumpeter never tired of telling us, Big Business enabled the average guy to own his own car and the average girl to wear pantyhose that once was only available to French queens. I don’t therefore get too uptight about the salaries and payments to Big Business leaders. We certainly need Big Industry, Big Road Transport, Big Shipping, Big Pharmaceuticals, Big Oil etc. if we are to continue to enjoy the benefits of 21st Century prosperity.
As we have often argued on this website, we all have to stay on constant guard against being manipulated by the governing Media Class, for it has the power to divert our attention here or there and to create a general climate of opinion that suits its own purposes. Whilst getting us all enraged and resentful about some people’s salaries, using front- page headlines and many column inches, the Media Class is remarkably coy about the salaries and pay-offs of its own people. When we do learn of the financial rewards of a Media person (usually a sportsman, Hollywood star or News reader) we are encouraged to be impressed and not at all resentful. The big reward is meant to signify the uniqueness and talent of the Media person concerned and as a result many poor ordinary people find themselves identifying with the star and feeling somehow enhanced too.
We were certainly meant to be impressed with Katie Couric’s pay deal when she recently moved to a different News Channel. No Media outlet or pro Sports club boasts about getting someone as a cut -rate bargain, rather, the more inflated the deal, the bigger and more positive the publicity. Am I alone in feeling outraged at the money paid to basket-ball players and golfers, to pick just two sports that are boring to watch and are only sustained as professional sports by TV payments and sponsorship based on TV exposure? Am I the only one who feels baffled when emaciated girls, modeling clothes that only lunatics would be seen in, receive vast sums of money and become celebrities because of it? And surely, half the population of the US could adequately read the news for TV!
Why is Rosie O’Donnell hugely paid for exposing her deficiencies on TV?
I was reminded of all this on Friday when I read that Courteney Cox and her husband David Arquette are selling their beachfront, 5,500 sq ft Malibu home for $33.5 million. The pair of them are said to be actors and she has appeared in sitcoms. I have nothing against sitcoms or movies in general, but she and her husband must have been pulling in some big bucks to wind up with a home this valuable. My personal experience is that the taxman makes sure that no-one ever gets really rich by working and saving and I assume that Courteney has not won the lottery. How likely is it that anyone in Hollywood lives a parsimonious life in order to accumulate a little capital?
In case you think I have picked a unique example of ostentatious Media wealth, here are just a few other very recent examples. Last November, Brain Grazer and his wife, Gigi Levangie Grazer put their LA home on the market for $27.5 million. In case his name doesn’t ring a bell for you, he is a film producer and she is a novelist and screen- writer. In December, Jerre Gowdy, widow of sportscaster Curt Gowdy put her Florida home on the market for $22.5 million. Back in September, singer Billy Joel put his Long Island home on the market for$37.5 million.
If I were to start mentioning the Media Class-owned properties that have sold for a mere $10 to $15 million in the last six months, I would fill several pages. In most cases, the people concerned probably also own other expensive properties and have other financial assets. Many, indeed most, are not household names and I doubt they inherited their wealth. Their good luck is that they are in the Media business.
No-one can own a multi-million dollar property without a big income, for property taxes alone are cripplingly high. In California, the annual property tax rate is 1.25% on the purchase price, so a $20 million home will cost around $250,000 per year, and that is before worrying about property insurance. Few Hollywood people clean their own floors, wash their own windows or maintain their own gardens. Nor do they care for their own children single handedly or get by with one cheap car in the garage.
On this website we argue that the Media Class is now society’s most powerful class. It is, as one would expect, quickly becoming the richest. Perhaps it has already become so. Its wealth and power are largely concealed from public view because it is in a position to control information and can direct public envy against others.
Remember, this is the Class whose members constantly agitate that we should all be giving more of our income to the State so that it can be spent on ‘good’ Leftist causes.
This is the Class whose members criticize the rest of us for our greedy use of the world’s resources, our consumerism, our exploitation of the world’s poor and our materialism.
This is the Class that prefers Castro to Bush and postures at Davos and at world poverty forums. The next time reader that you are invited by a Media outlet, or one of the Media Class’ political poodles, to get enraged or feel guilty about the wealth gap, remember that you are never invited to get enraged about Hollywood salaries, or basketball players’ pay. And Katie Couric? Well, she must be worth every cent of whatever vast amount she gets paid.