No Church in the Wild by Jay-Z/Kanye West – (ups to PR on the recco) As of September 1, 2011 the current unemployement rate in the U.S. is 9.1%. That’s 13.9 million people out of work and actively looking for work according to the funky math of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s more people than the state of Illinois. From 1979 to 2010 real income (the amount an individual pockets after accounting for taxes and inflation) has increased 176% for the top 1% of earners (the “job creators”) and has increased 6% for the bottom 25% (the workers). Real numbers (N.B. kind of. Let’s call them real numbers artistically tweaked to fit the ostensible theme of this blog. Yet I still believe they are illustrative): if in 1979, Billie Joel pocketed $10m from the sales of 52nd Street (the highest selling album that year. I looked it up), then by 2011, Hova/Kanye (presuming a similar situation) will take home $27.6m (N.B. let’s be serious, you’d prolly find that much money in the cup holders of their Bentleys scattered amongst the Sonic straw wrappers and jewel encrusted iPhone chargers). A $17.6m increase, more $ than I can fathom. As to compared to: If in 1979 Mr. shorts that don’t quite cover the top of his crack beneath his Patti Smith t-shirt and seriously in need of new pair of Birkenstocks record store clerk pocketed $20k for his pithy recommendations of Sex Pistols followed by his eye rolling at your purchase of Fleetwood Mac, then by 2011 Mr. shorts that don’t quite cover the top of his crack beneath his Neon Indian t-shirt and seriously in need of new pair of Birkenstocks record store clerk pocketed $21,200 for his pithy recommendation of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks followed by eye rolling at my purchase of Watch the Throne (I bought Malkmus too btw)(N.B. additionally ups to PR for (with only the force of his words) breaking me out an iTunes obsession and getting me back into an honest to god record store where music should be purchased. I’m on the Tuesday Guestroom plan now as well. This Tuesday it was terrific. I’d forgotten just how great vinyl smells.) That’s a $1,200 increase in 31 years. This is also roughly the amount Sean Carter spent on Yankee ball caps during the month of August. All of this is to say times is tough if you can’t shit out gold records or enter into complicated mortgage backed security investment products packaging derivative credit market swapping schemes only to be proven greedy/foolish while at the same time having the sympathies of the purse string holders of the largest economy on the planet to bail you and the other fat cats out of your misery to the tune of $245 Billion (with a B). The rich are getting richer and poor can’t afford new Birkenstocks. Times is tough indeed.
Kanye and Jay-Z (and the fact that when they slap hands, platinum thunderclaps, like spidey-sense, shoot from their bodies and one sub-Saharan child instantly gets clothed and educated) and their ridiculously opulent Watch the Throne (N.B. There is a fucking sample from Otis Redding on this album. Do you know how much you have to pay to even sample a song from the man who invented soul and probably sex as well? Certainly more that the record store clerk made last year.) got me thinking about the above. Not in a political sense (cuz we don’t do politics on WD) but in the sense that there is a level of people out there so rich that they are almost a different species than most people reading this. You can’t fathom disappointment in making $12m v. $60m in a year. The numbers don’t make sense to you (or to me), but some of them weep over it, distraught on how they can survive on$12m a year.
But there is also a level of people so poor that you can actually feel their despair at the fact that with the amount of energy you are using right now, in your air conditioning, to power up your computer and read this, their lives could be noticeably, maybe even substantially, improved. This amount of energy, if put to use in a hospital or even to filter water, could save the life of their dying child. Think about that. Don’t think about it too long, because guilt’s a bitch. But think about it. Think about how entrenched in the middle we are. Are air conditioning and blog posts one big opiate to help us not to worry about how far up our asses the dicks of the super rich are, about how much of an inside game they and our elected officials are playing? Or are they the things the super poor dream of when they go to bed hungry praying the last mosquito bite wasn’t the one with malaria? How can we have that on both sides of us? Should we worry about it? Could I do something about this, some little something…maybe (maybe I could even just care about it more). Will I? Of course I won’t.