‘All the Money in the World’ and the Hollywood Pay Gap

0.07 percent.

When the world learned that actress Michelle Williams only earned 0.07% of what Mark Wahlberg made for reshoots on the film “All The Money In The World,” outraged erupted.

Sure, it’s a headline that looks bad, but before you cry for the eradication of the male species, maybe you should look at the whole story.

In an effort to reduce controversy and be an Oscar contender, director Ridley Scott decided that he needed to reshoot all of (now-disgraced actor) Kevin Spacey’s scenes in “All the Money in the World.”

Both supporting actors Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams agreed to do the reshoots.

Mark Wahlberg and his agent asked for $1.5 million to do the scenes, while Michelle and her agent negotiated for basically nothing.

Mark and Michelle are both represented by the same talent agency, so why didn’t Michelle’s agent push for a million-dollar payout?

Because Michelle is actually on record agreeing to do the reshoots for free. She said, “I’d be wherever they needed me, whenever they needed me. And they could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted. Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort.”

Unlike Wahlberg, the opportunity that this movie presents for Michelle is worth more to her than any salary. “All the Money in the World” could very well be the most important role of her career. It’s possible that she may win an Oscar for her performance. No wonder she was so willing to reshoot without negotiating for more money.

And if I may add, she didn’t do the reshoots for free after all. She was paid $1,000 even though she volunteered to do the job for nothing.

So, Michelle Williams essentially got a bonus for the reshoots and a very real chance at winning an Oscar.

If she wins, she’ll have something Mark Wahlberg and all the money in the world can never buy.


20 Trillion and Rising

The U.S. national debt is over twenty trillion and rising. Most of that is owned by you or the government, but there’s 6.3 trillion Treasury bills, notes and bonds that are held by foreign countries. China is the granddaddy of them all, holding US treasuries totaling 1.2 trillion. It’s been good for China, helping to keep their currency weaker than the dollar, which in turn keeps their exports competitive, and it’s been good for us. Consumer prices for goods remain low, and the government gets more money to spend themselves silly.

Some people try and make all this sound hard, but it’s actually pretty easy. The United States is like a big corporation. Countries like China that purchase our debt in the form of treasuries are like investors. They buy a ten-year treasury, we get the cash but promise to repay when it matures.
Something interesting happened yesterday morning. The dollar, treasuries and stock-index futures all declined due to a rumor coming from China. The rumor was that senior government officials in Beijing had recommended slowing or even halting purchases of US Treasuries. The consequences for that could be huge. China is our biggest investor. Why would they do this now?

Hardly anyone’s talking about the danger the Chinese economy is in. The last few years for them have been the worst in thirty years. Like the rest of the world, they never really recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. Less people are buying their stuff while, at the same time, their labor costs are rising. They’ve racked up huge debt with underperforming loans, and nearly half a billion people live below the poverty line.

If your family invests in the stock market, but then dad loses his job and starts to miss mortgage payments, do you keep buying stocks or do you save your money and prepare for hard times? This is the position China is now in. They see trouble and they’re getting ready. The truth is, they’ve been quietly selling debt and calling in loans since 2016. Japan briefly overtook China as our largest debt holder before, they too, began calling in loans.

This leaves us with a couple choices. The government can either cut spending or they can print money. Which one do you think they’ll pick? But one thing is clear: the global economy is getting ready for something big. Here’s hoping we don’t pour kerosene on a bonfire.

The Erosion of the First Amendment

The First Amendment is not something to be trifled with. Yet, it seems to happen somewhere in the country every day now.

This week in Louisiana, a female middle school English teacher was arrested for speaking at a school board meeting. Her crime? Apparently asking why the school district’s superintendent was getting a $30,000 raise when teachers and other support staff haven’t received a raise in over ten years.
Seems like a pretty fair question. She pointed out that the district’s improved test scores and state ranking are due to the efforts of the teachers, yet they continue to deal with much larger class sizes with no extra compensation.

The teacher, Deyshia [pronounced Day-sha] Hargrave, was not being disruptive. She stood to speak with permission from the meeting chairman after he had opened the floor for audience comments.
But the school board evidently didn’t like Ms. Hargrave’s question very much. One board member pounded his gavel and told her to “Stop, right now – that’s not germane to what’s on the agenda tonight.” Then she was approached by a police officer who told her to leave. Hargrave walked herself out of the room, but the officer followed her.

In the hallway, people attending the meeting could hear a commotion as Hargrave was suddenly handcuffed on the floor, led out of the building, put in a patrol car, and taken to jail.
It was a public meeting. The floor was open for public comment. Hargrave is a citizen simply exercising her right to speak and petition her government. Instead she was silenced and carted off to jail.

Fortunately, a local TV station covering the school board meeting got the incident on camera and the footage has gone viral. After reviewing the footage, the local city prosecutor decided not to pursue charges against Hargrave. That’s the very least the city could do after such a ridiculous, unconstitutional arrest.

By the way, the school board approved the superintendent’s raise at the meeting. The teachers will have to continue waiting on theirs. Meanwhile, at least they have an object lesson about the importance of the First Amendment to take back to their students. And here’s hoping they do, because a lot of America just doesn’t seem to get it.

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