Top 50 JAzz Blog

Monday, September 6, 2010

Belabored Day.

"Because americans are concerned with market share and sales.  conflict
leads to sales.  I met these guys from their late 30's,
like, in their 18th year of university or some shit like that--and
getting paid to go.  they played all day long, did some teaching,
and that was set up for them...I remember they said something like
"well, you know, you have to be well fed and live a decent life to
make good music, and the Finnish government pays us a good wage to go
to college" or some kind of crazy shit like what the fuck
do they care about debates and hyper neurotic
differentiation---there's enough cheese for everyone's sandwich."
A gift from Stanley Jason Zappa.

We find ourselves on a lip service day mainly used to mark the closing side of summer at a time when the entire vast mess of what passes for labor is reeling from a protracted contraction. The chart above is most instructive. It covers income distribution between 1913 and 2003. If we compare it with what we know of the flow of Jazz through that time stream it is interesting to note that the long and great legacy period of the idiom between the onset of the depression and the imposition of Reaganomics would generally be considered to be fairly healthy even though hardly anyone made huge money and Miles could still demand to be paid in cash.

The rise of idiot huge compensations seems to follow the reduction of the top marginal tax rates from the days of that noted flaming liberal, Dwight David Eisenhower. Back then you were whacked for 90 percent or something. But what it really did was discourage pathetic mis-allocations of capitol such as we see now with asinine bloat fantasy money heaped on entertainers and grown ups who play children's games in weird outfits. 

It also discouraged and prevented individuals like the billionaire Koch brothers from exercising undue and menacing influence on the workings of government for the common good.

Looting and mis-allocation are the main features of our landscape and any real address of what is systemic unemployment would want to align economic potential with an environment of unprecedented and continual contraction and de-leveraging. Everyone got suckered into holding too much debt and then financial engineers leveraged it up exponentially with exotic financial products built of flimsy assumptions.

This grotesque explosion of indebtedness had a horrific impact on higher ed by encouraging tuition cost inflation because financing would cover anything. It made a fairly large and now disgruntled demographic cohort in debt to its eyeballs out of the gate before it even had time to tell which way was up.

If that wasn't bad enough, the jobs of the post Rubin era so touted by Clinton shills were largely fluffy jobs, Dilbert jobs... dreaded and despised gray cubicle jobs that were in themselves grotesque mis- allocations. We threw away the jobs that involved actually making or growing something, that most of our people could do without going into hock to Fawk U.

There are now a whole huge heap of these no longer significant fluff jobs on the line and in a cruel twist, the main recipients of this disaster are the older employees now in their 40s and on to the edge of retirement.

This would have been dumb in the older period where a manufacturing model obtained because the older employees were repositories of valuable institutional lore and memory. The IT economy sector mainly turned that upside down. Entity lore is of less value in a constantly fluid management structure and proficiency with churning emerging platform and tech change is the hallmark of employee value.

It is as if a bloated service sector is finally seeing the same permanent contraction that manufacturing already met. Thousand of older fluffy sector employees, maybe millions, will become nearly unemployable. An equal number of debt choked graduates from Fawk U. will discover that those 4 years spent on a fluffy major learned to master a craft that is losing efficacy will impose harrowing makeovers on them as they try and decide what to do about the debt.

When Microsoft decided to finally make a sturdy operating system and just call it 'Windows 7' instead of 'Panorama' or some such ridiculous shit, that is a signal that Marketing laid it's last egg. It's now ripe for severe contraction of an entire sprawled sector.

Some of this can be addressed by regulation. The hordes of laid off building trades people at least have tools and useful skills. The fed and states can generate work by merely requiring LEED compliance for all landlord beneficiaries of Section 8 housing vouchers while softening the hit by offsetting tax deductions. It needs to be done. The nations stock of crappy inefficient slum rental housing could keep a lot of people busy for several years and it coheres with the tug of contraction. Fix the old stuff so it drains less money.

Some of the laid off marketing and call center people could probably figure out how to work a caulking gun. Decentralizing a lopsided and menacing national food production system could also keep a lot of people busy.

As to how it all impacts Jazz, refer again to that income distribution graphic. That spike that begins with Reagan is hogging momentum. The hogs got all the money, (see Marty Khan). It is now unsustainable.

I  noticed some comedic stuff over at Blue Note. They have begun dropping all of their more valuable legacy recordings down to a 9 dollar price point while still expecting nearly 18 for Joe Lovano. 

That is a sign of a cliff dive. They are trying to redeem a catastrophic A&R failure by marketing a simulacra of their original work. It's like selling a bottle of hand made trappist ale for 2 bucks while expecting to get 10 bucks for PBR with a funny hat on the label.

This may explain why they have been on the edge of receivership to Citi for the past few years and why Citi is the most likely candidate for failure if and when the next big spasm of contraction hits.

This also explains the saturation bombing from equally moribund old media of Lovano tail wags to the edge of the tail falling off. Jazz Inc denizens are all in the leaky boat together and can't seem to bail very well. The SS Bluenote has kept them afloat for several years with lots of ad and marketing money. It almost resembles the bank bail out.

They desperately need to pretend that nothing else exists on any notable level. David S. Ware and Charles Gayle must continue to be locked in the pariah jail. Unfortunately, the web has gummed up the works as curious young jazz fan clicks on a Jazz Inc site... "What!... another fawking article about that hat guy ...what the fuck?!?...hmmm, I wonder if Stef has a new piece to check out..."

The same thing happens in the live festival side. A huge potlatch ensures that stupid A & R decisions will be redeemed by sponsor bail out.  If these idiots had to risk their own money you'd see all the gas fly out of the system and the inept anachronism of a thing like Newport could finally undergo its long awaited contraction. 

We might see a robust mosaic of little things spread all around the land with honest compensation for the many instead of demented confiscation for the few. They could be covered with a sponsorship from Depenz for one massive annual geeze stock in one place then beamed live so the spuds can watch it from their Lazy Boys. Make it a pre game day lead in to the Stupor Bowl and call it good.


Steve Provizer said...

Then, there's a little thing called the demise of the labor union; seemingly, the result of a well- orchestrated campaign to undermine one of the only stalwart protectors of the American worker.

I played in a labor-day parade today and it doesn't look good out there. I don't know what kind of outreach they did, but there were very few unions represented.
Bystanders seemed glad to get a colorful break from shopping, but basically, simply looked puzzled.

Christopher Ruston Rich said...

That has been choking for years. And it comes with its own problems like quarrels with the steward.

It started with so much promise. And when job growth is focused in the fluff sector, there never was much union growth. The cubicle IT world has strong libertarian leanings so by the time their work went to India they were already too late.

The rest of cubistan probably equated unions with some grubby blue collar vestige that would lower their status as Fawk U. grads in an aspiring white collar world.

Christopher Ruston Rich said...

One interesting thing I discovered when I did that market research project on the Consumer electronics sector in Massachusetts was how much small manufacturing is here.

It is related to the Defense industry. Federal rules prohibit procurement from foreign sources.

So these places are busy. Many have branched out to sell outside DoD but it is still an essential chunk of their annual sales.

Steve Provizer said...

Medical supply places are supposed to be thriving. Is that Pentagon-related?

Christopher Ruston Rich said...

Medical Devices was another area I looked at. It's more about health care expansion with an aging population.

That is also elaborately regulated by the FDA so there is less incentive to offshore it. It's expensive no matter what.

Marco said...

"Between 1979 and 2005, the mean after-tax income for the top 1% increased by 176%, compared to an increase of 69% for the top quintile overall, 20% for the fourth quintile, 21% for the middle quintile, 17% for the second quintile and 6% for the bottom quintile. For the same time span the aggregate share of after-tax income held by the top percentile increased from 7.5% to 14%." -- Wiki's Income Inequality

Money doesn't talk it swears.

Chris said...

I used to have a pet theory that jazz and especially free jazz flourished better when office. It was based on the sudden drop in clubs and scenes for free jazz across the country...and the signing or dropping of free artists on major labels. However I'm still waiting for the Obama boom for free.jazz....not holding my breath.

Guess I realize now that its way more complicated than a matter of which party's in power.

rob chalfen said...

probably all about Saturn

Christopher Ruston Rich said...

Marco, that's stunning. Did you wander over from one of the economics blogs I frequent?

I've been thinking more about what it says about how damaged Moronicans are.

We have 3 million oligarchs who were whipped into a looting frenzy by W's vile tax policy. It was a breathtaking bit of wealth confiscation and yet I ran into some hapless libertarian, (self defined), who just got laid off from his job of 23 years.

He is in his 50s and not likely to see that sort of compensation again as his industry is dying.

And yet he is willing to support the idea of something that is basically fucking him over out of dogma due to wealth aspiration.

All across the vast land are millions like him, anxious that our vile collection of pet oligarchs be fed and housed in the manner to which they are accustomed while having free rein to undermine the functions of an honest republic.

Chris said...


At the risk of getting over political, what you say astounds me too and is so well shown in this Tea Party frenzy...most of the "real Americans" in the movement either have no idea that it's being run by corporate interest who are literally out to screw them...or they don't care. It blows my mind.

Christopher Ruston Rich said...

Aaah political is fine. We have a bunch of wheezebags beside themselves because some 'colored' guy is romping in the White House.

Obama could use some more courage and his selection of the Clinton government in exile as his core counsel wasn't the best idea but with luck he'll see the light and shitcan a bunch of em.

If you look back to those old Eisenhower days in the 50s when oligarchy was thwarted by high taxes, it was a healthier nation.

It still had McCarthy and segregation but we didn't have to worry about oligarchic formation and usurpation.

The 'captains of industry' had to derive their status from merit rather than how many zeros were tacked on to their annual income.