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Ryan's bravery, booking agents' suckage
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Paul Ryan unveiled the first volley in the upcoming budget battle for 2012 and beyond.  While getting some credit for at least presenting a plan, any plan, his detractors immediately leapt at the opportunity to paint him as the symbol of the mean ol’ GOP hoping to bankrupt our country and leave working people out in the cold to die; while allowing fat–cat billionaires to live large off of their ill–gotten gains with zero regard for anyone but themselves.

(Cue the nefarious laugh track: Mooohooooohahahhaha!)

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman forwarded the dishonest notion that Republicans cling to a false and ridiculous idea that lowering taxes will increase revenues. Krugman knows he’s being dishonest because Ryan’s plan calls for lowering marginal tax rates while closing loopholes that corporations and individuals spend billions of dollars in legal fees to take advantage of tax loopholes.

Ryan’s plan calls for “broadening the tax base.” Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and to some degree Bush the Younger implemented with great success.  Bush spent his increased revenue on costly invasions but that’s another story.

Primarily, the people who lose most when we close the tax loopholes are the tax lawyers who get rich advising others how to scheme the system.  Instead of going to schemers who add zero value to our society, those billions could be going to increase R&D, furthering investments in people and technology, or be paid as dividends to investors or donated charitable organizations.

Few people, even Republicans, want to see people die in the streets due to poverty.  Progressives feel that you hold a firm grip on “caring for the poor” but you insist on doing it with other people’s money.

You stoke the flames of class warfare without mention of who foots the bill for entitlement programs. In 2008 the top 10 percent of earners paid 69.94 percent of the federal revenue derived from income tax, while everyone under the median income collectively paid a total of 2.7 percent of the federal revenue derived from income taxes.

Before we demand that others should pay more so our inefficient government can provide “helpful” services, why don’t we each first donate that $5 we spend on coffee at Starbuck’s every day or go volunteer at a food mission on some of the other 364 days of year that isn’t the last Thursday of November.

Conservatives feel that more impact can be made through privately–funded organizations that are accountable to both beneficiaries and benefactors.  Who is going to spend $100 more wisely on the people who need help, a bureaucrat in Washington, DC or the head of a mission or food bank?

Progressives revel in the days of the 1950s when taxes on high earners were set at 90 percent and we had a prosperous middle class as if this was a cause and effect relationship. You fail to recognize that this was before the era of “The Great Society” that vastly expanded federal entitlement programs meant to help the lower and middle class prosper.

How have those programs that are rapidly moving us toward insolvency improved outcomes Americans in the areas of health, education and wellness?  Perhaps some reform is in order.

Ryan’s first budget volley has zero chance of becoming law. It’s vague, relies upon unreliable assumptions and includes sweet deals for constituents.

Every first volley in negotiations asks for more than one expects to receive in the end.  That makes it easy for the Paul Krugmans of the world to demagogue and find fault.

At least Ryan is making an attempt at a solution instead of merely slinging mud from the sidelines.

Jim Johnston

Don’t let the bastards wear you down


I want to thank you for your editorial in this week’s issue, “It ain’t ‘broke.’ So fix it.” This country is being sold down the drain to corporations and the ultra wealthy. The local daily newspaper is part of that sell-out, as you know.

I think you speak for more people in this country and city than you may realize. Maybe some political polling now and then among your readers might be interesting?

Keep up the good work and don’t forget this advice from the past: “ILLEGITIMATE NON CARBORUNDUM” — pseudo-Latin for ‘don’t the let the bastards wear you down.’

Tim Harvey

Thanks for column


Thanks for your recent editorial “It ain’t ‘broke’. So fix it.”

We need more straight talk like this in Savannah. This is why I gave up on the Savannah Morning News.

J. David Ross

Keep it coming


Thank you for the column “It ain’t ‘broke.’ So fix it.” I just read a similar one in Vanity Fair. The difference was you proposed a solution.

I am sure there are millions of people who agree with you. All we need is someone to lead.

Philip de Wolff

Booking agents 101


As you may know, G.E. Perry & Strange Brew have performed around the area for a number of years, but my tenure as a working musician began during the Johnson administration. That’s mid–’60s to those of you who weren’t around yet.
That’s when Greg and Duane were still the Hour Glass, gas was 28 cents a gallon, and yes I did perform with Sam the Sham ("Wooly Bully") at Some Place Else on River Street.

And while none of this will qualify me for entry into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame or even darling of the neighborhood status, I believe my years of experience in “Da Biz” does provide me with a unique perspective on what seems to be the continuing slide into the abyss away from anything remotely resembling an organized and LEGAL booking operation.

Pay attention to the word legal if you are booking acts without a business license while receiving compensation.

First things first.

• A booking agency usually represents a client, not a venue, not himself.

•A booking agent looks out for the acts he represents first. Not himself.

• He not only arranges the gig and the details, but he also provides written contracts, logistic support, legal aid, and at times transportation and rentals when necessary.

I’ve been around. I have done business with a ton of legitimate licensed booking agents. I have been watching these clowns in Savannah and you know who you are. Most are working musicians who found it easier to beat the system by posing as booking agents.

They go into a business, throw a card on the table and profess to be the “go to” guy for entertainment. They represent no one but themselves. It’s just a prime opportunity  for  a musician to grab the clubs calendar and cherry pick till their own calendar is full and then piece the remaining dates out. If a gig falls through or a double booking happens, they are usually nowhere to be found.

Many of my associates and myself have been in the unenviable position of having to announce to the guys that count on us to look out for them that we have just been screwed by one of these crumbs.

What’s even more insulting is that many times we learn after the fact that one of these so called “agents” went behind us and worked his silver tongue magic on the club owner (a technique called hamstringing or low–balling) and walked away with our bookings.

A lot of club owners operate just like this because they believe that this is an acceptable way to do business. It’s not.

And it’s wrong. And it is illegal.

The law is very clear on this;

“No man shall act in a way as to deliberately obstruct the ability of another to be employed without penalty under the law”.

Here is a revelation for bandleaders and musicians: You can take them to court and you will win.

A verbal agreement is not the best way to book your band but it is recognized and enforced in Georgia.

1) You must have at least one other witness when the agreement was made.

2) The agreement must have been made with the owner or one acting as the owners representative.

3) When you are axed, canned or whatever, be sure you are dealing with the owner. Ask if he will make some attempt at restitution. Make up gig, partial payment. If not, the very next working day after the gig, go to Magistrate Court. Take out a warrant. $10. The club owner has 30 days to answer. You will have a court day. If they can’t give a good reason why you were canceled (I wanted a better band doesn’t count, Mr. Club Owner) you will get paid in full. They must pay court cost as well.

By far the best advice, get a contract. You can download forms for free.

But be forewarned bandleader, if you sign a contract and don’t deliver, the club can come after you as well.

My advice to club owners is this; Savannah is a small market. We (that’s you and me) don’t need a middleman standing there with his hand out raising the overhead with commissions.

If you want consistently good entertainment, do your homework and your own booking and give the commissions you save to the band. If you do decide on an agent, steer clear of the musician/agent, that’s like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

When interviewing a potential agent, ask for a license or check with the Dept. of Revenue, write checks always and never divulge your budget to any agent. When you do that you are asking to be manipulated.

And remember bandleaders, the only person that knows how much it cost to get your act from the rehearsal hall to the bandstand is you. Not some hustler with a cute smile and a snappy business card.

Gordon Perry