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First cars, now media? Hollywood writers’ strike is a sign that organized labor may kill-off another U.S. industry 11/9/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in LaborUnions.
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In the 20th century we learned that organized labor has a fatal flaw. While it may be possible to continue to gain more and more concessions from management for a period of time, this only works when consumers are being held over a barrel — when there are no good alternatives to what the union produces. But if products/services suddenly appear that are not burdened by the higher costs and work regulations of labor unions, the bottom falls out. So, when non-union Japanese cars flooded the market, the U.S. auto industry was doomed.

The entertainment media has been similarly oblivious to the damage done by labor unions to its industry, not taking action as film producers fled California for other states and countries to avoid burdensome union costs and work rules. And now, writers are seeking to burden producers with royalties for their web-distributed work, despite the fact that to date only Apple CEO Steve Jobs has generated serious profits from digital content and distribution. Unfortunately for entertainment union members, screens no longer go blank when they strike — the Internet, DVD’s, and video games offer a nearly unlimited amount of content, much of which they will drive consumers to find during a prolonged strike. They also underestimate the Internet’s ability to discover among the masses untapped talent that can do what they do, but do not happen to have the wherewithal to work the Hollywood system nor the expectations to be paid enough to live a Southern California lifestyle. Not even the bosses at the big studios have the clout they once had because, thanks to the Internet, media distribution is no longer limited to a finite number of movie theaters and TV channels. The 20th century organized labor formula does not work unless consumers can be held hostage. If the entertainment industry collapses when consumers break free of the burdens imposed by organized labor, the show will go on.

Comments»

1. Hollywood » First cars, now media? Hollywood writers’ strike is a sign that … - 11/9/07

[…] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptNot even the bosses at the big studios have the clout they once had because, thanks to the Internet, media distribution is no longer limited to a finite number of movie theaters and TV channels. The 20th century organized labor formula … […]

2. Hollywood » First cars, now media? Hollywood writers’ strike is a sign that … - 11/9/07

[…] Sparkle-C wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThey also underestimate the Internet’s ability to discover among the masses untapped talent that can do what they do, but do not happen to have the wherewithal to work the Hollywood system nor the expectations to be paid enough to live … […]

3. frankwolftown - 11/9/07

I always here about unions kill job growth. But I never hear of any other alternatives. How else can the American worker protect himself?

4. Steve Boriss - 11/9/07

Frank, The ends of the spectrum are freedom and security. America has opted for freedom. The upsides are a dynamic economy and opportunity. The downsides are less security and workers need to keep their skills up. Those who seek security flock to relatively low paying, non-competitive areas, like government and public education. Europe is increasingly opting for security, hence their sluggish economy. The greatest security is provided by tyrannical regimes where most people live in somewhat equal misery. All systems are imperfect. I happen to like America’s system best.

5. Ydobon - 11/9/07

A better angle for this story here at TFoN might be how the writers are getting their story out via blogs. A key aspect of that is that writers are good at writing, so they’re coming off well. Good use of embedded images, and the viral videos. See http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com.

There’s also been some good “A plague on both your houses” postings at dknowsall.blogspot.com.

In the meantime, The Future of News is happening at Breitbart TV in the comments of Hollywood is casualty of war as movie-goers shun Iraq films. “We, the People” have found a voice.

6. Steve Boriss - 11/10/07

Ydobon, Thanks for the links that show the range of reactions. It’s exciting to watch the Internet spread power more equally throughout society. Technology had caused this problem of concentrating power in the hands of a few, and it looks like technology is now fixing it.

7. www.latesthollywoodgossip.info » First cars, now media? Hollywood writers’ strike is a sign that … - 11/10/07

[…] Steve Boriss put an intriguing blog post on First cars, now media? Hollywood writersâ strike is a sign that ….Here’s a quick excerpt:Unfortunately for entertainment union members, screens no longer go blank when they strike — the Internet, DVD’s, and video games offer a nearly unlimited amount of content, much of which they will drive consumers to find during a … […]

8. James - 11/10/07

Burdens imposed by organized labor? How about burdens imposed by executive’s ridiculous salaries and their belief that they own the lion’s share of profits from what the artists, whose work they distribute, produce? In case you haven’t been keeping tabs, executive compensation of all forms is something in the vein of 200% higher than mean average employee’s salary, and in terms of living standards, while our economy (GDP) has expanded significantly over the last 20-30 years, middle class living standards have stayed the same while executives’ have gone through the roof. I’m not saying that bougey Hollywood writers are emiserated or oppressed, but rather that this is an attitude pervading the executive level of the US economy. Long ago, labor relinquished the position of power to the executives, and the latter have used it since then to follow their self-interest: grabbing as big a piece of the pie as possible!

9. Steve Boriss - 11/10/07

James, In the new Internet market, I suspect both executives and writers will both make a whole lot less money than they do today, except for those with exceptional talent. I don’t believe labor unions will be particularly relevant in the much more competitive market to come.

10. Ydobon - 11/11/07

Instapundit‘s just now put up the deadlinehollywooddaily link.

Kausfiles has the breitbart.tv commenters link. Instapundit linked to Kausfiles. Apparently it was a Drudge-a-lanche. My source for the link was a comment on Libertas.


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