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What did Jackson do to earn that money?

[ 0 ] June 28, 2005 |

I agree with Jack Shafer that the New York Times was out of line in allowing this gratuitous cheap shot against Peter Jackson.

Peter Jackson is an incredible filmmaker who did the impossible on Lord of the Rings. … But there’s a certain piggishness involved here. New Line already gave him enough money to rebuild Baghdad, but it’s still not enough for him.

At issue here is whether New Line can sell certain marketing rights to other Time Warner sections at discount prices. Jackson gets a percentage of those sales, so when the rights are sold at below market value, Jackson loses money. Without knowing too much about the business, it seems to me that Jackson is entirely in the right, and precedent seems to suggest that his lawsuit will be successful.

The cheap shot above brings up another issue, however, which is that of fair compensation. When I first read the article, I was reminded of the contention, often made by talking heads of various stripes, that athletes are overpaid. The unnamed source above is making precisely the same argument as the sportswriter who decries every negotiating tactic that Roger Clemens employs by suggesting that Clemens “already has enough money.”

This is rather an odd argument when you think about it. Money does not, after all, appear out of thin air. Neither Roger Clemens nor Peter Jackson are taking money from the mouths of orphans. If Clemens makes $6 million instead of $16 million, someone else gets to keep the $10 million difference. Strangely enough, the person writing the check is often (and in fact, I believe, always) richer than the person receiving the check.

However, no one ever seems to suggest that the owner of the Houston Astros has too much money. No one seems to suggest that Time Warner has too much money. The talking heads only seem to complain when the artists and the athletes make absurd sums, and never when the execs and the shareholders take home huge profits. Indeed, the sports intelligentsia has even managed to convince itself that high ticket prices are the fault of the athletes rather than the owners who set the prices, even though this is logically impossible.

I wonder, is it possible that even our liberal media is more friendly to corporate elites and billionaire team owners than to artists and athletes?

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