No, seriously. As you read this, I will be scurrying like a hamster, with some kind of nuclear pellet inside me to make my heart glow – a ‘stress test’ – the thought of which, just hours away, has me only mildly stressed. What has me very stressed is not being allowed to eat. I graze; so suddenly shutting off my natural flow of clover for twelve hours is a thud to my cud. And the notion of actually having to be someplace at nine in the morning – not just awake, mind you, but clothed and physically elsewhere – let’s just say I need to go to sleep immediately. But that I have found ‘urgent sleeping’ to be as unlikely as winning a bet when you actually need to.
Plus, who can sleep when, finally, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are back on the air?
Which brings me to the writers’ strike.
But, first, the writer’s strike brings me to:
THE GINI INDEX
Imagine a society where one citizen makes all the income and all the others, none. Such a society would have a Gini Index of 100 – whereas the Gini Index of a society where everyone had equal income would be 0. According to this (which does not account for the last few years of increased U.S. income inequality) we are at 45 . . . significantly more egalitarian than Namibia (71) or Bolivia (61), but significantly less so than Sweden (25), France (27), Germany (28), Holland (31), Switzerland (33), the U.K. (37), India (33), Canada (33), Australia (35), Israel (39) or Ghana (30).
Equality of income is not, per se, a good thing. Indeed, it is likely to be a bad thing, because it removes incentives that spur productivity, prosperity, and feed the happiness that comes from dreaming and then, oft-times progressing toward that dream (if only with the pay raises that accompany seniority).
But when things get too unequal, people get angry.
At just what level, and in what circumstances, that anger is justified, or becomes dangerous, is open to differing points of view.
Case in point: the writers are getting angry, while the TV executives – and some of you – don’t see it as justified.
I have to go to sleep now, but come back tomorrow for some thoughts (mostly yours) on the writers’ strike.
Needless to say, I feel terrible having suggested this one to you, and FMD as well. My hope is that both will recover – but it’s by no means guaranteed. Here is an encouraging assessment of WM, posted a couple of weeks ago before the dividend was cut from 56 cents to 15 cents.