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meme: Support the experience economy: send skzbrust $2 - Zer Netmouse
July 7th, 2006
02:31 pm

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meme: Support the experience economy: send skzbrust $2
Please join me in convincing a stubborn Hungarian who is also a fabulous author (Steven Brust) to start accepting paypal donations on his website.

1. (optional) read the explanation of the reason/philosophy behind this: http://netmouse.livejournal.com/216556.html

2. If you have a paypal account, Paypal $2 (or more) to skzb -@- dreamcafe.com (take out the spaces and the dashes to use as an email address)
Note: please use the subject line "So there..." (feel free to add your own comment).


3. post this to your journal with a comment about Brust or his work.


My Comment:

I have known Steven personally since sometime in the mid 90s. At the time I met him I had read everything he'd written to date, except for The Sun, The Moon and The Stars, which I have since discovered is fabulous. My favorite book of his is Jhereg. The first night we met we stayed up all night at a Minicon music party, making music.

I hope to go on making music with you for many years, my dear and stubborn friend. So there.

(11 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:andrewfeland
Date:July 7th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC)
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Done, and I hope plenty of others follow suit.
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From:yix
Date:July 7th, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
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me too!
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From:agingaglaea
Date:July 8th, 2006 12:49 am (UTC)
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Done. I put "so there . . . because of Anne. She's a hard woman to resist!" :-)
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From:rmeidaking
Date:July 9th, 2006 10:52 am (UTC)
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I have to come down on the side of skzbrust on this one.

What you're proposing is begging. "Hi, I haven't done anything lately, but send me money anyway." A person with any sense of pride would shy away from that.

There are very few people who wouldn't deserve to have such an account. Families with a cancer patient, people who were well within their budget until their property taxes went up along with their utility bills; heck, I could set one up to help pay for Greg's tuition.

The thing is, when you do that, you mentally put yourself into the group of "People who can't earn all the money they need in order to survive." That is a *huge* mental hurdle, and not one I would encourage anyone to cross lightly. I would be working four jobs, move into manufactured housing, and raising a garden before I did that. It's one thing to ask friends and family for support during a short-term crisis; it's another thing to ask the anonymous public to help out long-term.

This sort of account is the electronic equivalent of a tin cup on the sidewalk; you surrender a lot of self-respect when you set it out. It's not something one does lightly.

I understand the compensation crisis in the world of writing and artistry. Nevertheless, another solution needs to be found.
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From:netmouse
Date:July 9th, 2006 09:34 pm (UTC)
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you speak as though you think you should lose a lot of self-respect if you let people give you money without an exchange of goods. Can you explain that to me some more? Because it's something I don't understand.
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From:rmeidaking
Date:July 9th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
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The core question is this: Why do you need the money?
The second core question is: What are you doing to deserve the money?

In general, in our society, we trade something of value for something else of value, and that's how we survive. In general, we do something for someone that has value, and they give us money.

If someone does not have all of the money that they need to live the lifestyle they want, in general, they have to readjust their lifestyle. That's the appropriate, dignified solution. Keep downsizing until you can live on what you're producing.

In this case, apparently someone cannot live his chosen lifestyle on the amount of money he is currently earning. You are suggesting that the solution be for him to request more money from strangers, on the merit of past works. What about other solutions, such as writing another book? Playing music in bars?

In my life, I have been all over the map, economically. I had reason recently to see - as I was shredding - my tax returns for the past twenty years. Some were an order of magnitude higher than others. Some of those years were really lean. One summer, I lived in an 8x32 trailer without running water (I had a rain barrel for flushing water, and showered at a friend's house); the rent was $25 per month, plus utilities. I spent a different summer surviving on $12 per week for food, after I paid my housing and utilities. Yes, I ate a lot of rice and ramen. Ultimately, I moved back to my parents house for three months that time (that's when you know all of your dignity is gone, BTW, but it was that or live in a tent).

I can imagine only a few cases where I would get to opening a PayPal account and asking for donations, and they all involve the need for money not being money mis-management on my part. That is, if my house burns down after being struck by lightning, and for some reason the homeowners insurance doesn't cover housing during rebuilding, then I might; or if one of my kids contracts a serious illness (e.g. cancer), it's conceivable, but again there would have to be a failing on the part of the insurance company.

Maybe it's part of a core need for self-sufficiency, or a reaction against certain of my cousins who can only be described as leeches and parasites, but my sense of self wouldn't allow for begging. I would have to provide a service in return for the money, in the present or under a current contract (e.g. as royalties or deferred compensation). I have a serious desire to never be a Charity Case.

Does this make more sense?
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From:netmouse
Date:July 10th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
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I can see where you're coming from, but I disagree that the core question is why do you need the money. I would rather live in a society where our beloved artists are wealthy and our executives of modest means than one in which the people who bring bright shiny moments to our existence feel they have to justify their finances. In this case, it is true, skzb is in a hard way regarding funds. He's had a recurring health problem that's got him in steep with a local hospital, mainly because he hasn't got health insurance. And sure, with some financial planning he ought to have had health insurance, and he has in fact repeatedly said he doesn't have a donation thing because his financial situation is his own responsibility -- but this isn't just about him and his current situation. I picked him because someone brought it up in a comment on his journal, and I got a fire under me to try this. A lot of authors don't have health insurance. And, I would point out, it is in fact more of a challenge to manage your finances when you only get paid rarely (albiet in relatively large bundles compared to your average paycheck). This is a problem for any artist who works on contract.

In my mind, this is about the general problem of paying people for things and copies of things instead of for the act of creation and the experiences they give us. When I've read Jhereg for the fifth time and am sitting there in the glow of enjoyment, I don't want to give something to the artist based on past merits - that merit lives on and is present in my ongoing experience of that literature. And since I bought that book used, and since the evolution of the economy is only toward its being easier to exchange copies of things without paying something to the artist down the line, I think we need to evolve our renumeration methods too.
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From:rmeidaking
Date:July 10th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
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I would re-adjust the solution to be to encourage everyone to go to Amazon.com or their favorite bookstore, and buy NEW books by the author. If you already have copies, donate them to your local library.

The goal is to increase funding while maintaining dignity. PayPal probably isn't the way to go, but there probably is a solution out there.
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From:earthtomeryl
Date:July 9th, 2006 06:37 pm (UTC)
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Done.

And on the tin cup on the sidewalk topic... busking is not surrenduring self-respect. Begging without offering something of use to the community, yes, but not for an artist (in the inclusive sense), with the understanding that people who give are giving because they appreciate your work and understand the current system isn't set up to support public goods such as art. Or that's how I think about it.
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From:netmouse
Date:July 10th, 2006 03:00 am (UTC)
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nod. That's how I think about it, too, and why a lot of people call that sort of paypal widget a Tip Jar. If a mime is performing on the street, you might go "Ew, a mime!" and then that mime might surprise you and do something that makes you laugh or touches your heart, and you might give that performer a tip. What I'm saying is that you might pass a piece of public sculpture or read a book that's been given to you and be similarly moved, and there is currently no easy way to tip the person who gave you that experience.

And there ought to be. It's certainly technically feasible.

It's a shift in thinking, from a consumer to a service economy. We're used to paying for goods and services, but with regard to something like a book, we usually pay in advance (If at all), not based on the actual experience - the actual service done us by the author - but based on some arbitrary ticket price determined by the publishers and based on their estimate of what the market will bear. We can't add tips based on level of performance. I'm saying we ought to be able to.
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From:andrewfeland
Date:July 10th, 2006 06:25 pm (UTC)
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When I think of all of the different performers I've paid over the years, from the two guys who got a huge tip for playing bagpipe duets outdoors and in tune with each other in Harvard Square in January, to the ridiculously overpriced tickets I'll buy for the occasional Broadway show (note that I'm a former backstage man myself, and that I feel most theater tickets are underpriced, but damn, folks, over $150 a seat? Do we get food with that?), I think that being able to toss a little extra at a good writer shouldn't impact anyone's dignity.

Think about that for a second. I might pay $10 to see a movie, over $50 for a nice dinner, maybe even splurge once every five years and spend $100 on a good musical--how long do those keep me entertained, compared to a good book? I've spent more on bottles of wine, and they didn't last nearly as long. That's an apt comparison, actually, since SKZB's work ages well. Absent the chance to thank the man personally and buy him a drink (maybe we should be sending Scotch and good cigarettes instead of money?), sending a few bucks his way sounds like a great way to say "thank you".
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