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Re: [BKARTS] Free Enterprise
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: [BKARTS] Free Enterprise
- From: Gerald Lange <Bieler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2004 10:15:32 -0800
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Thanks for contributing this. An interesting discussion. A great schism
indeed. I'm not sure the GDP is of paramount value to society since it
allows for greed that can be destructive to society, point in case,
Enron. But, that kind of high level economics that goes beyond the
simple market place is way beyond my understanding.
A long time back one of my books somehow got some talk on NPR and an
investment banker came over to "evaluate" it for purchase. After I gave
him the production details, the rationale for doing it, etc, he asked
what it cost to make. He pondered this and compared it to the retail
price and the number in the edition. He then asked how many I had sold
since its release. I told him and he was visably taken back. I quickly
explained that over time as the edition sold out (I estimated two to
four years) I would recover my costs and make "profit" as payment for my
work. I thought that would prove my economic viability to what appeared
to be a hard sell. At least, I explained, I wasn't going to lose money
on the effort. At the time Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy
[Hmmm, that was a very long time ago, wasn't it] and I added, "That's
better than Chrysler." :) His reply was a quick, "No it isn't." :) But
he did buy bought the book!!! And it did sell out, and I made my profit.
Not as much as he though. The out-of-print market on that book is easily
5 times what he paid for it!!!
Several years ago I had a most interesting discussion with the husband
of a friend. As we sat in his dining room, in an incredible home in Shaker
Heights, Ohio, drinking expensive wine, he "enlightened" me as to my place
in society as an artist.
I won't bore you with how we fundamentally represent to each other the
"wrongs" in society; that he has grown up in a position of utter privilege
and sees my Canadian values as socialist weakness. I'll leave it at the
fact that he is a corporate banker who prides himself on his imported
wardrobe, while I am an artist and teacher who scours thrift shops for
exciting finds. Our perspectives are rather different.
During this discussion, I was told that artists are self-absorbed,
obsessive people who don't contribute anything of real worth to society.
When contributing to the GDP was wielded as the prime example of what is of
value to society, I realised that this schism (or Grand Canyon) was beyond
my bridging in one sitting.
I could not, however, resist commenting on how he categorised "value".
I pointed out that his home had acquired several new objects since my last
visit. It seems that as his career and "monetary value" progressed, so did
his acquisition of wealth. Of course, I said, that new furniture, those
paintings and the sculptures were all created by machines in his
world-centred middle America. Indignant, he proceeded to list the crafts
people and artist who had created these pieces, some American, many from
developing countries. They were expensive objects, of course, but he felt
them worth it because they were unique and somehow distinguished him "from
How unfortunate, I pointed out, that these same folk often work for
very little profit, thus not contributing very much to the GDP. Isn't it
fascinating that while he thumbs his nose at the artist, he hangs their
"product" on his walls (and places it in his book shelves, on his
Stunned, he poured himself a glass of scotch and left the room.
Blue Stocking Bookworks
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