Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Famous Paintings Sell For Millions At Auction, But The Artist Gets Zero : NPR

Famous Paintings Sell For Millions At Auction, But The Artist Gets Zero : NPR



I thought this was a bad idea when I read it in the Guardian, still do.

It's sold. It's sold. Not leased, not lent, it's sold. What happens afterwards is the concern of the current owner, not the creator of the work.

And Scull was right: if the work increases in 'collect-ability', and the artist is still producing work, then the artist should be able to sell current works at increased prices.  And this bit about 'or their descendants'? How long does that go on? Forever? Bullocks.

If the artist doesn't like the way things work, then let them get a real job. You know, a 9 - 5, or 9 - 9 sometimes, and suffer the slings and arrows of dealing with real life every day.

I admit, my opinion is probably jaded by the characters of local artists. Like the one who gathers beach trash, puts it on a canvas and spray paints the whole mess, then charges $350 for this 'beach treasure'.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

I don't like to be a pessimist but I really think that we are so screwed

Over half the registered voters stayed home this year. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference. But now we must brace ourselves for the assumption of power of our Republican overlords.  The party of Nope & Fear.
I predict:
  1. More restrictions on abortion. Fewer clinics, and more arbitrary hoops for women to try and jump through. 
  2. Less access to birth control. More business choice to not offer coverage, more pharmacists thinking it's their job to rule on the choices of their customers.
  3. More attacks on public education and more money shifted to charter schools, so the FOTGs [Friends Of The Gops]  can make more money off them, with little or no accountability.
  4. More guns. More Open Carry and Hidden Carry laws, and roll backs of those few gun control measures already in place. 
  5. Attempted roll backs of business regulations. Fewer safety measures, working condition rules, overtime rules, minimum wage gains.  
  6. More freedom for the finance industry to try and create the next big bubble and crash. 
  7. More "Freedom of Religion" that actually works out to be less freedom from religion for those of us who prefer logic and reason to blind faith and obedience.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What's In A Name? It Could Matter If You're Writing To Your Lawmaker : Code Switch : NPR

What's In A Name? It Could Matter If You're Writing To Your Lawmaker : Code Switch : NPR



I was going to comment on this story, but comments are closed. With no comments showing. Wonder if things got too hot for NPR?



On a personal note [and this is not the result of a scientific study, just personal experience] I have sent the same message to my two state senators and representative. The rep will usually send a written response, that actually manages to cover the topic I asked about. The Democratic senator will usually reply, but via email. I have yet to hear from my Republican senator, on any topic, no matter how banal. For some reason, this leaves me feeling as if he really isn't very much concerned with my welfare.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades | Pew Research Center

For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades | Pew Research Center



Once again, more proof that the right-wing's trickle down theory is a complete and utter fallacy.

 For most U.S. workers, real wages — that is, after inflation is taken
into account — have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of
whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs.


We grow more productive, we work as hard as we can, and what's our reward?



But after adjusting for inflation, today’s average hourly wage has just
about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, following a long
slide in the 1980s and early 1990s and bumpy, inconsistent growth since
then. In fact, in real terms the average wage peaked more than 40 years
ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 has the same
purchasing power as $22.41 would today.


Of course, some people are coming out a bit better:



 What gains have been made, have gone to the upper income brackets. Since
2000, usual weekly wages have fallen 3.7% (in real terms) among workers
in the lowest tenth of the earnings distribution, and 3% among the
lowest quarter. But among people near the top of the distribution, real
wages have risen 9.7%.


The rich get richer, the rest of us lose ground.  And yet so many of 'the rest of us' keep voting the hot button issues, the ones that don't really impact their every day lives, but make really cutting ad copy.

Wake up!

Artists target rogue dealers who refuse to pay resale royalties | Art and design | The Observer

Artists target rogue dealers who refuse to pay resale royalties | Art and design | The Observer



 The Artist’s Resale Right entitles artists to up to 4% of the proceeds
when their work is resold for at least €1,000 by an auctioneer or
dealer. In 2012 it was extended to works of deceased artists still in
copyright, 70 years after their death. Royalties are capped at €12,500,
modest for works that are sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds.


Hambling, who will be exhibiting her new paintings at the National
Gallery next month, said: “If a piece of my work sold in the 1970s for
£500, and it now changes hands at £2,000, of course I feel that I should
see a bit of that.”

Well of course she may feel like that.  But does it make it right, her feeling like that?



Once a person has sold something, whether it be art or other merchandise, sold it without reservation or stipulation, how can they be entitled to a portion of the proceeds of any future sale?

Let's take another situation. I build a home.  I pay for the plans, the construction materials and costs, and the interior design. It is my home. I sell that home to someone else, and might make a profit on that sale. That is my reward. Now just imagine the furor if I was to claim a right to a portion of the sale proceeds for every future sale of that home, for my entire life and 70 years beyond.



And, as someone in the comments mentioned: what of the power of inflation and comparative purchasing powers. If I bought it 30 years ago for x dollars, and sell it on today for x*4 dollars, is it really that much more in relative terms? And what of my costs of maintaining that bit of art for those 30 years? Keeping it insured, housed safely.



No. Once a thing is sold, it is sold.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Prices soar for some generic drugs - SFGate

Prices soar for some generic drugs - SFGate



And another article on price fluctuations in generic drugs. 

Generic-Drug Prices Spike in Pharmaceutical Market Surprise - Businessweek

Generic-Drug Prices Spike in Pharmaceutical Market Surprise - Businessweek



More on rising generic drug prices.

Big surprise: as the more successful drug companies snap up the competition,  they're free to raise prices as high as the market can bear. And the consumer, who in most cases is living on an income that hasn't risen at all, or has in real terms actually decreased, has to make even more drastic choices.

Buy the medicine, or pay the rent. Buy the medicine or put food on the table.

Don't buy they medicine, and then end up in hospital.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Supreme Court To Weigh Facebook Threats, Religious Freedom, Discrimination : NPR

Supreme Court To Weigh Facebook Threats, Religious Freedom, Discrimination : NPR:



But once again the court, responding to challenges brought by conservatives, has chosen to delve into some elections issues that had been thought long settled. In a case from Arizona, the court could prevent the increasing use of citizen commissions to draw congressional district lines. Arizona, California and some other states have, in one way or another, used these commissions to take the redistricting issue out of the hands of self-interested state legislatures. But in Arizona, where the independent commission was enacted by referendum, the Republican-controlled Legislature is now challenging the practice as unconstitutional.


This is fascinating and terrifying. The courts are supposed to be there to protect the people, aren't they? To serve the course of justice, not of self-serving politicians. Oh silly me, thinking such a thing.  The people of Arizona made their wishes known. They voted in an independent commission to set congressional district lines.  And the party in power doesn't like that. Because they want to set the district lines to protect their power,  to hell with the best interests of the people.




Wealthy Americans Are Giving Less Of Their Incomes To Charity, While Poor Are Donating More

Wealthy Americans Are Giving Less Of Their Incomes To Charity, While Poor Are Donating More



So basically, as the 1% consolidate their hold on most of the wealth of the world, they are less inclined to donate any of that income to charity.  The more they get, the more they want to keep it.

Meanwhile the poor, struggling to get by, are giving more to help their fellow 99%.



Fair disclosure: the wealthy are giving more total dollars, it's the percentage of their giving compared to total wealth that is decreasing. 



You can see how your state compares here.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Congress Investigating Why Generic Drug Prices Are Skyrocketing - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Congress Investigating Why Generic Drug Prices Are Skyrocketing - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont



Interesting question. Especially for generic drugs, which are supposed to be the low cost alternative, aren't they?





BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 2 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) today launched an investigation into
soaring generic drug prices.


“We are conducting an investigation into the recent staggering price
increases for generic drugs used to treat everything from common medical
conditions to life-threatening illnesses,” Sanders, chairman of a
Senate health care subcommittee, and Cummings, ranking member of the
House oversight committee, wrote in letters to 14 pharmaceutical
companies.


They pointed, for example, to the price hike for Albuterol Sulfate
used to treat asthma and other lung conditions. The average cost for a
bottle of 100 pills was $11 last October. The average charge by this
April had shot up to $434. An antibiotic, Doxycycline Hyclate, cost $20
last October for a bottle of 500 tablets. By April, the price was
$1,849.


From $11 to $434? That seems impossible. 

Let's hope Bernie gets some answers.

From Bernie Sanders

America has more low-paying jobs than any other developed country

The OECD defines "low-paying" as jobs that earn less than two-thirds of a country's median income. On average, around 16 percent of jobs in OECD countries are considered low-paying. In the U.S., over 25 percent of all jobs qualify as such.

No big surprise there. As more and more of the wealth in the US gets sucked up by the 1% and the 0.1%, the rest of us struggle to make ends meet.  The rest of us take jobs that don't pay the rent, that don't allow us to build any savings. So many of us end up taking more than one job, or working a collection of part time jobs to try and get ahead. Which means no over-time money. And probably no benefits.