We Create The World We Live In

First, the WGA is on strike. I’ll post three Twitter threads at the bottom of this post that are worth reading. As noted before, I support them.

And I think the John Rogers post below is worth thinking about. Because we collectively through our values and our laws create the world we live in.

If you criticize a company for taking steps to maximize its share price you will often hear something along the lines of “well, they HAVE to do that because they have a duty to their shareholders.”

But the point that is often missed in that is that we as a society have created the rules that drive that. And we could change them.

We could make it a law that corporations must provide value to their shareholders while also taking into account long-term profitability and viability.

Because a nice little bump in today’s share price is meaningless if you suck all liquidity out of your company so that it’s bankrupt in two years.

And a nice little bump in today’s share price is meaningless if you create such brutal working conditions that you lose the people who make that company what it is. If you drive away your talent with poor compensation and relentless work demands, you will lose value long-term.

A nice little bump in today’s share price is also meaningless if you so mismanage the natural resources you rely on for that business that you once again deprive that company of what it needs to be a long-term viable business.

I would also argue that the type of extremely high CEO compensation we see should not be treated as a good thing, but should be viewed as poor management. If you’re telling me that the CEO of that company is worth $300 million but the people who do the day-to-day work aren’t worth paying a living wage then what you are telling me is that you have mismanaged that company to create a single point of failure. That’s poor long-term management of a company that should get the board that approved it fired if true. If not it’s a grift and they should still be fired for paying someone compensation they don’t deserve. Especially when it comes at the cost of the staff that drive long-term viability for that company.

I remember back in my broker days there was such a thing as “blue chip” stocks that returned a steady, long-term profit. They weren’t sexy, they weren’t flashy, but they delivered value year-in and year-out. And yet we have this environment now that only rewards sexy growth. Big numbers. Even for companies that should not be that type of company. And it’s killing those companies.

It can be frustrating as an individual to know how to counter this hot mess. For me, personally, I’ve shifted from seeing a fancy sports car and thinking, “ooh, nice” to thinking “what a selfish fuck who cares only for themselves”. If we don’t reward people socially for amassing vast amounts of wealth they (may) lose the incentive to do so.

I mean, honestly, does anyone need $300 million let alone $300 million every single year? No. Especially not off of the backs of others.

And I absolutely did call out a friend recently who probably makes over $500K a year when they kept complaining about “rich people” as if they aren’t one. That shit has to stop. Just because one guy has rocket money doesn’t mean that a whole swathe of people aren’t doing very, very well for themselves and couldn’t spare a bit more than a vote every four years.

Oh, and for this case, I canceled my streaming subscription today and won’t be streaming anything while this strike is ongoing. And I’m sharing the thoughts I can with the people I can to maybe take one more chip at that giant boulder that needs to crumble if we have any hope of the world being a good place to live for more than a handful of selfish assholes thirty years from now.

(Oh, and no comments allowed on this thread. I’m not here for anyone out trolling about the strike.)

Here are those Tweet threads:

I Support the WGA

First off, I have no skin in this game. Yes, I am a writer, but I am also in my mid-40’s and live nowhere near where this type of writing work happens so the odds of my ever being a WGA member are probably less than 1%.

But I think it’s very important that we as writers stand with those who remind the people who make a lot of money off of the product of our labor that writers have value. There is no television series, no movie, no animated whatever that exists without someone writing that story.

Writers are core and essential to the entire entertainment industry. We are where all of it starts.

So, let’s back up a second. What is the WGA? The WGA is the Writers Guild of America (as I understand it there’s a west and an east version). They describe themselves as “a labor union representing the thousands of creators who write scripted series, features, news programs, and other content.”

They are the reason there are minimum payouts for creative work in those areas. They negotiate so that creators receive residuals for the work they do. If a series like Friends runs forever and sells forever and generates revenues forever it seems pretty logical that the people who wrote that content should also be paid for that success. They are what made that series possible.

But with the rise of streaming and the general trend (not just in entertainment but everywhere) towards consolidating as much wealth as possible at the owner and executive level, it’s become much trickier to make a living as a writer in Hollywood.

(Note again, I am not part of that part of the industry so I may get some of this a little bit wrong. Don’t use me as your definitive source on terminology or issues.)

Basically, though, as I understand it, the WGA is in negotiations about some really nasty trends in the industry that are designed to squeeze out as much money as possible for the non-writer-owners and executives and to reduce the number of writers used and the ability to train the next generation of writers.

Everything I’ve seen about the negotiations makes sense to me. Someone needs to stand up for writers and address these issues.

And since the general public may see a stoppage in new content if there’s a strike, I think even us likely-never-WGA writers also need to show our support for our fellow writers and their strike if it happens. So that’s what this post is about.

I support the WGA and their efforts on behalf of their writers.

(On a side note, I had this epiphany this morning about this whole moment of time being crafted to put people at each other’s throats over sometimes legitimate issues all so we miss the fact that the very very top of the wealth scale are sucking up as much wealth as they can while driving us towards a cliff many won’t survive. And I don’t know how you fight back against that when it’s so pernicious and widespread and will only get worse with the new tools they’re going to use to put us at each other’s throats, but if you’re someone who’s like, “writers who get to write for Hollywood are so lucky they should just suck it up because look at me, I’m poor” miss me with that shit. You’re playing into their game with that crap. Attacking people who make $30K a year while indirectly supporting those who make millions a year makes you a fool and a stooge.)

Anyway. A few links:

WGA West website about the strike : https://www.wgacontract2023.org/take-action/strike-authorization-vote

And where I get most of my information on this, John Roger’s Twitter which has lots of shared threads from others who can speak better to the whole thing: https://twitter.com/jonrog1