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October 4, 2000
London, UK

We actors deserve our share of the wealth we help produce

From Ms Carol McCluer.

Sir, As a member of Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, who has worked making commercials, I am proud of our strike (since May 1) against the advertising industry's aim to replace "pay-per-play" compensation with a flat fee for unlimited use. Their efforts to break the unions, by making TV commercials overseas and using non-union actors, are shameful. 

Because most of the 135,000 striking actors earn less than $5,000 a year, the unions announced a relief fund for actors whose benefits are exhausted, and the AFL-CIO set up a food bank in LA. 

While advertisers claim their survival depends on cutting residuals, ad industry profits have grown 22 per cent in one year! Advertising Age reports that network ad sales will rise above the $7bn achieved last year; cable sales will rise to $5bn. So what is at stake: the survival of the industry or of big profits for some people? 

As the American economist and founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel, explained, the profit system is based on contempt: seeing people in terms of how much money can be made from them; after centuries, this system no longer works. That is why, in today's so-called "booming" economy, profits are harder to come by. He stated in Goodbye Profit System: Update: "There will be no economic recovery in the world until economics itself, the making of money, the having of jobs becomes ethical, is based on good will rather than on the ill will which has been predominant for centuries." 

In the international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Ellen Reiss, class chairman of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, asks: "What should be sacrificed--decent jobs for millions of Americans, or profits of individuals who didn't earn them--so that millions of people can have decent, dignified lives? . . . If no one were making personal profit from the work of others, and everyone were making a good living and feeling expressed--would that be good? . . . ethical? . . .truly American?" Yes! In commercials, the actors' work sells the products, and we deserve the wealth our work produces! 

Carol McCluer, 2 Charlton Street, New York, NY 10014, US 

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