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July 17, 1984 - Image 6

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1984-07-17

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OPINION

Page 6
0bP fiirbi gan B atlg
Vol. XCIV, No. No. 25-S
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
Steeling America
T HE REAGAN administration has taken
yet another step on the path to an outright
government endorsement of protectionist
trade policies.
On Wednesday quasi-independent Inter-
nation Trade Commission voted to recom-
mend that the president order fairly stringent
import restrictions on foreign steel products in
order to protect the declining American steel
industry.
Although Reagan had used copious amounts
of anti-protectionist rhetoric in the 1980
presidential campaign, the White House resp-
onse to the ITC recommendation was far from
negative. Staff members said that, while the
recommendation was still under study, the
president was likely to approve at lease some
of the restrictions.
His reasoning is self-evident: Reagan wants
to garner as many crucial blue collar votes as
he can in the key stell producing states of Pen-
nsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, New York and
Ohio. This latest protectionist news comes just
two weeks after the administration disclosed
its new found love of auto import quotas.
Protectionism, as the president once
argued, amounts to nothing less than
economic suicide. And protectionism on steel
products seems designed to make the suicide
as slow and painful to the nation as possible.
Workers in the American steel industry
currently earn about 60 percent more per hour
than the average American factory worker.
Because of antiquated production methods, it
takes half again as much time to make a ton of
steel in America as it does in Japan. The result
of these conditions is - predictably - that
many American steel products are much
more expensive than foreign imports.
However, imposing quotas, even quotas
predicted on industry modernization, is not
going to solve any of the problems affecting
the American steel industry and may well
exacerbate them. Past behavior indicates that
the only pressure which will force the steel in-
dustry to modernize and the steel workers to
accept more realistic wages is the pressure of
competition in the marketplace. The tem-
porary profits generated for a few steel com-
panies from the imposition of quotas would
inevitably go toward further corporate diver-
sification and toward the continuation of
outrageously high labor costs.
If the recovery is to continue, the president
must repudiate his protectionist stances. An
excellent place to start would be with the ITC
steel recommmendations: They defy common
sense, economic reality, and the painful
lessons of history.

Tuesday, July 17, 1984

The Michigan Daily

Jacksons: The prophets Qfprofit?

By Susan Makuch
Where does good old American
industrialism end and pure greed
begin? It's a difficult deter-
mination to make in our
capitalist haven here in the USA,
but the borders may have been
crossed by that good old in-
dustrial family, the Jacksons.
The Jacksons-brothers Tito,
Jermaine, Jackie, Randy,
Marlon, and, of course,
Michael-through dedication,
talent, and hard work, achieved
stardom some 15 years ago. Then
billed as The Jackson 5 (Randy
was still in diapers), these boys
from Gary, Indiana, gave the
Osmond Brothers a run for their
recording money as far as cute-
kid-family-acts go.
ONCE BERRY Gordy, Jr. and
his Motown Records acquired the
Jacksons' talent, there was no
stopping them. The brothers
blended pop, soul, and blues to
create such hits as "ABC" and
"I'll Be There."
The attractiveness of these
tunes was their fun, raw innocen-
ce. Their wide appeal to both
black urban youths and the white
middle class made them even
more powerful. And it was nice to
see some less-than-well-off young
black children make it big in the
fancy showbiz world.
With the industry-wide record
slump that materialized in the
late '70s, the Jackson 5, along
with many other hit makers,
found themselves on the bottom
of the charts.
And then came Michaelmania.
It began innocently enough in
1980 with Michael's very suc-
cessful solo effort, Off the wall. It
sold five million copies-qun-
ntuple platinum, mind you-but it
doesn't hold a candle to the
phenomenal success of Thriller,
which so far has sold 35 million.
A RECORD that sells five
million copies is considered a
smash in the industry. So this
first solo effort by the youngest
Jackson was an unadulaterated
success.
The arrival of Michael's second
solo project, Thriller, brought
more of his falsetto voice onto
the airwaves than anyone
thought possible. Thriller began
selling like wildfire. Two million,
five million, then, twenty, thirty
million records; and for every one
Michael made $2.10 in royalties.
The album has reached the num-
ber one spot on the record charts
four times in the past year and a
half, accounting for 10 percent of
CBS Records' sales and more
than 10 percent of its income in
1913. Many executives credit
Michael Jackson with single-
handedly saving the sagging
music industry.
Without a doubt, Michaelmania
has made Jackson quite a rich
young man, and that's great. But
does the American public have to
make him an even richer young
man by supporting his exorbitant
summer "Victory" tour?

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Wayne Ingram, 7, is just another example of Jackson-mania. Like
many other children, he is forced to cough up his allowance dollars
in order to attend the $30-per-person victory Tour concerts. The
Jacksons don't seem to mind, though.

I think that the only victory will
be on the part of the
Jacksons-that they will be suc-
cessful in charging $30 per ticket
for the chance to see their 90-
minute show.
IT IS ESTIMATED that
Michael and his brothers will sell
about $60 million worth of tickets
from the concerts-$8 million of
which will go directly to the
family. '
Michael thought that he would
combat the bad publicity about
ticket prices by giving his share
to charity. Michael didn't want to
appear too greedy, you see. The
fact of the matter is, however,
that the Jacksons will make
much of their profit from
souvenir sales and increased
record royalties. It is estimated
that Jackson fans will spend from
$6 to $10 each on tour merch-
andise (the cheapest T-shirt is $13).
Peter Lubin, president of
Brokum Inc., the company which
holds the merchandising rights to
the Victory Tour, puts these fans'
expenditures into a frightenine
perspective: "They'll spend their
entire allowance and half their
inheritance" on Jackson
paraphernalia.
IT'S NOT enough that these
kids are spending $30 to merely
attend this concert-that's twice
the amount charged by Rolling
Stones for their 1981 world tour
extravaganza, and they earned
$35 million in box office receipts.
So it's not as if the Jacksons
would have an unsuccessful tour

if they cut ticket prices in
half-$35 million can go a long
way if you want it to.
In addition to the earnings, in-
dustry insiders think that the tour
will stimulate Thriller sales once
more, again shooting it to the
number one spot on the album
charts. More royalties for
Michael. Also, we musn't forget
that the Jacksons' new album,
victory, has just been released,
and although it hasn't been
critically acclaimed, the tour is
expected to spur its sales, too.
It's sad to see that the Jacksons
seem to have abandoned their in-
nocent youthful days. Somehow
it's hard to picture the old
Jackson 5 taking advantage of
their youthful market. Presently
they seem so concerned with
profit that they simply ignore
poor business practices-such as
instituting a ticket mail-ordering
policy which required that each
order be a mimimum of four
tickets, or $120 worth. How many
children do you know that can af-
ford $120 worth of concert
tickets? It took a tearful letter
from a young Texas girl to
initiate a change-and ultimately
elimination-of the policy.
I think that the Jacksons have
lost touch with reality and their
public, and that's unfortunate.
After all, in the beginning the
Jacksons were probably more in
touch with their audience than
any other group around. But then
again, that's showbiz.
Makuch is the Daily's Arts
editor.

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