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Liberal Perspective

Dear Kim,

As always, there is much news in the news today.

The US Supreme Court examined its first abortion case in five years Wednesday under an intense spotlight for signs of how the conservative new chief justice would lead the institution.

US and Iraqi troops launched a joint operation Wednesday in an area west of Baghdad used to rig car bombs, while American soldiers rounded up 33 suspected insurgents in a sweep of southern parts of the capital. Bush still has not announced any plans for withdrawal.

(Kim: I can't image that it would be a good move to announce a date. The war is not without its benefit for some of the people in Iraq.)

And as of today, Wednesday, Nov. 30, the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is over. The 26 storm season started earlier than ever before, with storms forming almost one right after the other. The latest named storm, Epsilon, formed Tuesday. Katrina will be the season's most remembered hurricane. The storm was the most destructive hurricane to strike the United States in recorded history.

Etc., etc., etc.

So we have matters of domestic policy, foreign policy and Mother/Father Nature. Any of these would be food for fodder.

But tonight I am interested in writing about Julia Roberts and money.

It was announced on the Hollywood Reporter site and then flashed around the globe that, for the second year, Julia Roberts is the highest paid woman in Hollywood. She gets 20 million dollars a movie.

(Kim: I was so impressed in Dallas with the Nasher Sculpture Museum. He made gobs of money in his shopping malls, and couldn't wait to give the money back to his community. There are generous people in all walks of life, and people are generous in many different ways. "Judge not...?")

20 million dollars.

The implication of the article was that she was paid comparably to male stars of her class.

Ok, I'm all for equal labor, equal time.

But how does anyone come up with that equation?

(Kim: It is call the free market.)

And why does anyone, male or female get paid that kind of money. And if should may be asked, why should they?

(Kim: ?)

I know, I know all the usual defenses of capitalism, people can ask for what the market will bear.

But when Julia Roberts or anybody gets paid that much money, we all pay for it. The cost making a movie goes way up, as does the price of seeing one. As does the price of lots of stuff.

I am always amused when I read about movie stars who are concerned about the environment and other social justice issues. Why don’t they lower their fucking fees and make things more affordable for everyone. It’s all connected.

(Kim: we could make a long list of the costs and benefits to having highly paid actors and athletes in our society. It is obviously a two-edged sword.)

Here are my two money stories for the day.

#1: Emma, a 66 year old woman from Tennessee who cleans our offices was telling me at lunch that her cost for medication was $80 last month and will probably be more next month. Before all of the Medicare changes, she paid about $20 a month for the diabetes medicine and check ups. That was affordable.

She asked me what I thought she should do. I told her I didn't know.

And I don’t know. And I feel ashamed.

(Kim: It is a shocker when the rules change.)

#2: I received a call from our grant rep at the NEA. I am glad she called to say she had some questions before the panel review on Monday. I wish they had a draft review process so that we could have nipped any issues in the bud.

Our rep, whom I have never met, behaved as if it were a character deficiency or perhaps a moral failing that we didn't provide what they wanted according to some template that we didn't see. Because it wasn't visible.

Ok, so that happens.

But she was really rude. Now, before you start in on your victim, as in don’t be one line, I want to say that I made a conscious choice. We need the money and so I put up with it. I thanked her profusely for her time and assistance.

(Kim: She's a victim of her unhappiness and her lack of knowing how to come off as a decent human being. Sounds like you did as well as you could have...but Mother Theresa would have accessed her nice side and the woman would never be rude again.)

Some of her suggestions were actually helpful for Grant Land. But the air of moral superiority was not.

It is not her money. In a sense, it is our money. We are taxpayers and it is public money. Our work is important and productive. We contribute richly to the fabric of society. So I think we should get the money.

(Kim: I don't like the term "public money." It is private money that we should all have a share of. I don't like government support of art (in this way) because of the control that comes with it. I'd rather see more tax breaks for those who want to give to art.)

But it is not that simple. So I listened to her basically complain about us to us for 45 minutes.

And even thought I made a deliberate choice to play along, so we can put out best foot forward for the grant, it felt lousy.

Is there ever reason for condescension or rudeness?

(Kim: No!)

How does money as a source of exchange make that more possible?

(Kim: Money isn't the problem. If we traded cows some would also communicate their unhappiness.)

When was the last time that someone was condescending to Julia Roberts or Tom Cruise?

(Kim: Didn't someone squirt water at Tom Cruise last year?)

When was the last time they couldn't afford to pay for their medicine?

(Kim: At this point we are taxed in various ways 50% of our income. If we want to be taxed more we can pay for more medication for everyone. In the meantime, we eliminate incentives for saving, education, and work. It isn't easy.)

Later,

xJoan

Wed, Nov 29, 2005


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