For the second straight year, Chrysler won the Super Bowl of advertising with a brilliant two-minute exploitation of economic anxiety and populist sentiment. Following up on 2011's Eminem spot, this year's commercial featured the iconic figure of Clint Eastwood -- the man who puts "rugged" into "rugged individualist" -- talking about how it's "halftime in America," and while "we" may be down, we're not the kind of nation that can be knocked out with one punch, our second half is about to begin, etc etc.
The four-page advertising spread based on the commercial which ran in USA TODAY on Monday morning ends with the tag line: RIGHT NOW, IT'S TIME FOR ALL OF US TO GET BACK TO WORK. The explicit message of these commercials is that, while times have been hard and remain so, our national resilience, ingenuity, and most of all our willingness to work will allow us to overcome our current economic distress, just as it has so many times in the past. (The implicit message is that it's a good thing the Bush and Obama administrations dedicated tens of billions of dollars to bail out the American auto industry instead of allowing the rigors of "market discipline" to destroy Chrysler and GM).
All of this is presented in an evocative swirl of images of mostly working class people in the metaphorical process of picking themselves up by their bootstraps, in a kind of prettified hybrid of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and a Tony Robbins self-improvement seminar.
The ideological function of this kind of thing is complex, but the part of that function I want to focus on here is the extent to which messages of this sort (viewed by 110 million Americans at one time, and many more still after the fact) obscure some basic economic realities. The fact is that "Americans" aren't struggling: in increasing order of intensity, middle class and working class and poor Americans are struggling. Upper class Americans (such as, to pick a random example, law professors,) are doing very well these days, and indeed for really rich people things are absolutely fabulous -- much better than ever, as a matter of fact.
This general cultural situation is reflected particularly well by the current state of the American legal system.The crisis of American legal education and the legal profession is a very asymmetrical phenomenon: for instance, if you're a partner at a fancy law firm, or a dean at one of our better law schools, it's all, at least in pecuniary terms, an almost indescribably wonderful life right now. As for law faculty, we teach less and make more than ever before; we occupy far more opulent buildings than in the past; many of the burdensome administrative duties we had to perform a generation ago have been outsourced to burgeoning staffs of helpful factotums -- in short, things are pretty great overall.
For the American upper class, the economic and social crisis is something we read about in the papers and see on TV. It might as well be happening in Afghanistan. That's why we're going to go into another faculty meeting next week and vote ourselves a few hundred thousand dollars more in institutional goodies. Where's the money coming from to pay for all this stuff? That's not really our department.
If it's halftime in America, then we've built up quite a nice lead, so why would we change the game plan? We're winning, after all.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
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It is sometimes hard to reconcile your criticism as you feed at the trough...ReplyDelete
Don't get me wrong, I would hardly expect you to forsake your occupation because of what's going on--I wouldn't either.
In fact, I suppose if I were really upset about the system, I too would rail publicly against it while protected by tenure all while continuing to collect my fat benefits.
Still, even though I would do the same thing, I guess there's still that twinge of hypocrisy as an undercurrent.
Oh well...can't have it all. Do you ever have a sick feeling in your stomach as you pull into your parking spot though? I'll bet you do.
Anyway, keep it up.
The hypocrisy of law professors (overwhelmingly liberal) railing about social justice and mocking us for wanting to take jobs at big corporate firms (what other option have you left us?), while raising tuition between $1000-2000 per year, is truly astounding. I began law school without the typical American mistrust of "ivory tower academics" and will soon graduate sharing this sentiment. I may give my state university a donation, but I will never donate a penny to my law school.ReplyDelete
Above all, I'm tired of my generation being used to continue the political battles of the Boomers instead of telling both the banks/corporations and the academics/unions to go fuck themselves.
I wouldn't really call law professors upper class. Yes, I know that as a matter of statistical placement, the average law professor makes much more than most people. But I know lots of folks who are making $150k who are hurting because they have $200k in student debt, a house under water, and must send their kids to private schools b/c public schools are just terrible. In fact, I know of several public school teachers who make that kind of money and few people would consider them upper class.ReplyDelete
Rather than income as the determinant factor, I think age serves that function better. Most law professors are in their 50s while those with substantial student debt are younger. This is a generational battle more than social strata: the baby boomers wrecked the economy and didn't save any money for their retirement and in true form are unwilling to take any responsibility for it (but are willing to bankrupt their children's futures to get what they think is properly their dues).
I think it's a little silly to ask Professor Campos to quit his job just because he sees how messed up the system is. We NEED people like him to give legitimacy to the cause. It would be like asking a cop to leave law enforcement because there is corruption. We NEED good cops, military personnel, and law professors if we want to fix things that are screwed up systemically.ReplyDelete
Oh and for those who don't believe me about public school teacher salaries, go here:ReplyDelete
Chabe, Laura Amherst Central Schools 2008 $152,000.00
An income of $150K puts someone around the 97th-98th percentile of individual personal income. That's about the average salary of tenured professors at ABA law schools. The average salary of public school teachers is about a third of that.ReplyDelete
It seems you drew a little from another Paul (Krugman) for inspiration in this one. I like it.ReplyDelete
The swine have a strong self-interest, in making sure that the status quo remains intact. Hence, "change from within" will be tepid - at best. Seeing that the ABA does not give one damn about the students or average lawyer, the best chance to significantly affect these pigs is to continue to document the industry's failures. In the end, we live in a capitalist/consumer society. The schools - regardless of whether they are public, "private," for-profit or "non-profit" - care about their reputation, the public's perception of "higher education" and $$$$$.ReplyDelete
15% of the citizenry is on food stamps. In a room with ten people, at least one should be on food stamps if the room represents the American people.ReplyDelete
If the subsidy mechanism has a hiccup, we're looking at food riots and serious civil unrest. I watched the occupy wall street protestors from inside the barricades, as the police pepper sprayed and threw people to the cobblestones in riot helmets with the 70's NYPD blue colors (a hint as to the last time they were used).
From my office, over thirty floors up, the world looks tranquil. As it must look from the windows of a Connecticut home, or the co-ops of park avenue.
LawProf – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Gresham’s Law. I definitely see the dynamics of Gresham’s Law at work in law school administrators’ drive to goose US News rankings at all costs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gresham's_lawReplyDelete
Don't let the trolls bother you - they're the bad actors who want to drive all productive discussions out through their corrosive influence. You will do far more good working to transform the system from within.
Also - thank you for your great work thus far! You’re one of the few credible and coherent voices out there speaking truth to power. I hope more of your colleagues will join you soon.
Chrysler's commercial starring Clint Eastwood was basically patriotic sell. There are two unfortunate aspects of this. First, it's an ad for a company bailed out with U.S. taxpayer money yet today is 60% owned by Fiat. Second, the ad didn't give me one good reason to buy a Chrysler product. Therefore, its purpose was most likely to try to alleviate some of the resentment against Chrysler's corporate welfare and crony capitalism. I still won't buy any of their damn cars until they offer me one which is worth my money no matter how many times they wave an American flag in my face.ReplyDelete
Can you start a 2nd blog titled, "breakingdownmarketingmessages.blogspot.com?"ReplyDelete
I would read it.
Maybe things are great for law professors, but the rest of the upper class (upper class, not ultra rich) isn't doing that great. 401k's are in the shitter, property values have fallen and job security is lower than ever. While things could be worse they really aren't that great.ReplyDelete
Prof. Campos -- You're beginning to preach to the choir. Better to start preaching to the C.U. regents. See the following quote In today's article in the Denver Post about CU law school running in the red.ReplyDelete
"The law students -- as a body -- are probably going to make more money than any other group on campus," [Regent Steve] Bosley said. "Why should the other students be subsidizing a group that has a greater lifetime earning? That's the question I get."
This regent, and probably others, need to see the light.
The Clint Eastwood ad was a slap in the face. Even in my drunken state on Sunday, I saw through the BS. There are many messages one could take away from that ad. Here is what I took away:ReplyDelete
"This company just got bailed out with your taxpayer dollars. Even though we believe in a free market, the bailout was anything but. While many of you sit home broke and jobless, we are making cars and making money. HAHA here are some patriotic words thrown in to make everybody feel good. We know the bailout was controversial but we had the connections to make it happen despite the taxpayer's stance against it. Fuck you America. Buy our cars."
I did find irony in the fact that a hardcore Republican (Eastwood) was promoting an event (the bailout) that largely benefits Obama (A Dem running for reelection).
"and must send their kids to private schools b/c public schools are just terrible."ReplyDelete
Boo hoo. MUST send their kids to private schools? Let's not forget that 90% of the American public couldn't afford that if they wanted to. You can get a great education at most public schools. I went to a "failing" high school (according to the newspapers) in Metro Detroit and the vast majority of my teachers were excellent. But the school is a "failure" because it's underfunded and serves a poor population that is apathetic and therefore scores poorly on tests. We need to stop bashing our public schools and start truly supporting them. And a good education always starts with good parents.
"I did find irony in the fact that a hardcore Republican (Eastwood) was promoting an event (the bailout) that largely benefits Obama (A Dem running for reelection)."
Actually, Eastwood isn't really a hardcore Republican. He's more of a live-and-let-live libertarian. See his wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clint_eastwood#Politics
He's actually pro-gay rights, pro-choice, and an environmentalist. AND he opposed Vietnam AND Iraq. I'm a liberal and I'd say that's a pretty good track record!
He also stated that he has not voted for a Democrat since 1952 while always voting Republican since that time. He may take those stances on social issues but he votes for people who take the opposite stance (by logic, he votes AGAINST those who support those issues). In other words, what he says and what he does are two very different things....
"Boo hoo. MUST send their kids to private schools? Let's not forget that 90% of the American public couldn't afford that if they wanted to. You can get a great education at most public schools. I went to a "failing" high school (according to the newspapers) in Metro Detroit and the vast majority of my teachers were excellent. But the school is a "failure" because it's underfunded and serves a poor population that is apathetic and therefore scores poorly on tests. We need to stop bashing our public schools and start truly supporting them. And a good education always starts with good parents."ReplyDelete
8:34 - vis-a-vis that quote:ReplyDelete
""The law students -- as a body -- are probably going to make more money than any other group on campus," [Regent Steve] Bosley said. "Why should the other students be subsidizing a group that has a greater lifetime earning? That's the question I get."
I do not know whether Colorado University is like the others, but most have been taking the maximum 20% rake-off from law school tuition for the last decade or too that the ABA allows - when the law school shares the campus with the main college or university they have been taking even more by inflating "overhead" charges for use of common facilities (which is why a lot of schools like say Georgetown went for wholly separate facilities).
What this comment illustrates is the speed with which University and college administrations will forget the rake-off (while keeping the inflated overhead) if an when the law school downturn starts to impact tuition - both numbers of students and actual rates. The moment the law-school "cash cow" goes into the red, it will be in trouble. This is why so many law schools are going to close their doors over the next decade - when they stop contributing and start sucking money they will go. The ones who will go fastest are the ones with shared facilities because the colleges will be able to reuse them as classrooms, labs and dorms for profitable courses.
Not to be cynical, but professors need to worry about this.
Yes, the comment @6:09 and 7:59 are pretty hilarious. A great example of upper middle class and upper class viewing life through a spectrum that is as narrow in scope as their zip code. Its true, in terms of how we feel, we compare ourselves to our neighbor more than the "bad part of town". Teachers in the top 5% of earners as being normal?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAReplyDelete
Anyway, I do think it very, very interesting about what's coming out of CU. Not only is that school so poorly ran that they have increased tuition at the rate LawProf has noted, but somehow, SOMEHOW, IT HASN'T BEEN ENOUGH! All caps needed there. I've been in that nice building. We have heard about quarter million salaries (as well as other perks). But, as a public school, charging that rate, to not be even covering their bills (when so many are cash cows), presents a level of incompetence and out of control spending that is hard to grasp (except when compared to my own school loan abuse). Hiring too many recent grads to help employment numbers? Getting themselves in a financial hardship position so they can get rid of LawProfs tenured position (jk)? WTF?
I've been reading The Scorpions by Noah Feldman, a fine book consisting of interlocking biographical sketches of FDR's Supreme Court Justices.ReplyDelete
I was struck that, prior to their appointments, these top dogs of our profession, though from wildly different backgrounds (including legal academia), all had a sense of responsibility and honor, and all put the needs of the country before personal class interest. They would never have felt that they were "winning," just because they were rich, when the majority of their fellow Americans were going down the drain.
Today, the leaders of our profession behave like corporate lackeys, public relations specialists, and scammers. They are all out for themselves and their cronies, and do not take responsibility for their profession or their country. So-called progressives are no different-- witness the way a certain lefty Nietzsche specialist instantaneously transforms into a howling insult-spewing reactionary when asked to explain how his well-remunerated scholarship benefits practitioners or trains law students.
The commercial is right-- we need to tap into that ancient American spirit of can-do and optimism, but it ain't gonna happen unless the top tier understands the urgency of self-criticism and reform.
Ah Chrysler and Clint Eastwood: two prominent boomer status symbols here to remind everybody to "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" (except when you need over $80 billion in taxpayer bailouts).ReplyDelete
This stern Clint Eastwood message to law grads and young people is clear: "don't you dare challenge the status quo. Auto companies, banks, social security, and higher education must be supported even if it means diverting increasingly scarce resources from other profitable enterprises, creating asset bubbles, and imposing crushing debt on the next five generations. We must 'pull together' so that baby boomers can finish living out their American dream."
I wonder when the day will come when young people in my generation pull an Atlas Shrugged and just look the other way as this man-made utopia comes crashing down.
We must 'pull together' so that baby boomers can finish living out their American dream.ReplyDelete
Exactly. The boomers took advantage of near free education, and pulled the ladder up after ensconcing themselves in companies and institutions. Hair Plugs, third wives, and McMansions. What a country they've ruined.
It would be interesting to see what other law schools in addition to Colorado are net money losers for their universities. I've never heard of anything like this with a law school.ReplyDelete
I'm a boomer. What many of you say is true. And I'm sorry. We went from the greatest generation to the worst generation.ReplyDelete
Quit it. The "greatest generation" tolerated legalized segregation, lived in sundown towns where blacks had to be indoors before the sunset, interned Japanese Americans in camps and supported a whole host of things that we (okay ,most of us) would find barbaric today. The movement for women's rights and gay rights were pushed along by the boomer generation, who also fought to end a tragic war. Every generation has its good points and bad-- Generation x and the millenials, too God knows. This kind of talk is ahistorical, hysterical, and serves no useful purpose.ReplyDelete
Oh, and we should not forget the ones who went to war and had their lives broken in the process. They are boomers, too.ReplyDelete
11:17 illustrates my point perfectly so take note:ReplyDelete
Challenge the "ends justify the means" orthodoxy of the boomer generation and you are labelled as anti- "women's rights", anti-"gay rights", pro-war and for Japanese internment. Raise any question about the sustainability of the bailout and entitlement world they created and they will smear you.
This is especially disappointing because I thought this blog would have a more-elevated dialogue.
No, the point was to suggest that you cannot demonize an entire generation-- that is the very opposite of "elevated dialogue". Referencing those things are reminders of good things that happened through this generation. I qualified it by acknowledging that not everyone sees those things as positive. That is not a smear. There are, in fact, political differences about these issues. The more important point is against romanticizing any generation. As I said, they are mixes of good and bad, everyone of them.ReplyDelete
Wait, what's wrong with being pro-war?ReplyDelete
Also, I'm not convinced that boomers as a whole did the heavy lifting for gay rights, even if they cleared the field with sexual liberation in general. I mean, I don't remember Rock Hudson being forthright about his orientation and I don't remember Jobriath becoming the American Bowie. Do you?
What has this post accomplished?ReplyDelete
Oh, and on point, I have no problem with Campos staying in his position, for the time being. A statement resignation would be powerful, but it would be a one-shot weapon, and God knows whether he's financially capable of it. There are hundreds of thousands of us crushing our skulls out here; it's probably better for all involved that he bangs his head against the wall from the inside.ReplyDelete
Great observation. Speaking to many older people of means, but who also have a conscience, almost all just state that what is going on in the middle east will eventually happen here. People do not realize that the arab spring was started by individuals such as ourselves, highly educated, large debt & un-employed 20 somethings who had enough of the present system. Both political parties are to blame for the current state of affairs.
You are slightly off: they were highly educated, 20 somethings but they had no debt. Their education was paid for. Many of them had no jobs. In other words, the education was free but there was no jobs for all the people with educations.
This is why free government education for all is probably not the answer in this country. These people still need jobs otherwise you get an Arab spring.
12:17 Rock Hudson was born in 1925, two decades early to be a baby boomer. Whatever his failings, they were not the failings of a boomer.ReplyDelete
Ah, but he was watched by boomers into the late 60s. OK, Rock Hudson's maybe not the best example, since Greatest Generation bigots would also be in his audience.ReplyDelete
Jobriath stands, though. That guy was too good to be a failure on his own merits.
I think the key here about making $125 or $150k and not being (feeling?) upper class is the educational debt. There's a world of difference between $150k and no debt and $150k and $200k debt.ReplyDelete
Funny how higher education has sent so many people into a life of poverty, so to speak.
the financial setback is always worse condition for the working class people. they need more support to come off itReplyDelete
5:08 PM ...ReplyDelete
I don't agree. I think the biggest factor is property prices and public schools. If property prices and/or residential rents are very high, $125,000 is not a lot - for example in New York City (pretty well any borough), or London, of San Francisco, prices are so high that an after tax income of $68,000 (roughly what is left in New York City on $125k for a single person) or $83,000 (roughly what's left on $150k) does not go that far. Before people start saying - but you could live in an outer borough - think instead a middle class 20% lifestyle, or what you would think is one - 3 bed home in a decent area.
Of course one of the income inequality arguments is that the upper 1% and the top half of that 1% have so driven up property prices and for that matter private school fees, that incomes that border the upper 1% (most often paid in major metros) just don't make it. The difficulty is that across the board we are expecting the 97% to cure the problems of the 3% created by the !% - what we have been observing driven by high income inequality is "trickle up," not trickle down.
That ad shows you once again that too many (modern, but not prior generation) Americans are morons who can't distinguish rhetoric from reality.ReplyDelete
LawProf: do you share Nando's fascination with fecal matter? Nando: what does your psychiatrist think about it?ReplyDelete
LawProf--When I read this post, I understood, as I never did before, the importance of what you are doing. Some might say you are feeding at the trough while you criticize the farm; if that's the case, we need it. Why? Being in your position, you can't be accused of being a bitter loser, or someone who's resentful because the system didn't work for you.ReplyDelete
MacK, good observations. I recommend "The Spirit Level" on the effects of income inequality on nearly every aspect and measure of health outcomes. It compares the developed nations and US states.ReplyDelete
The ad actually seems like a brilliantly targeted piece of advertising. Think about the target audience for Chrysler cars. They are middle-upper range cars, right? So they will be aimed at people with a bit more money, IE the ones, like LawProf, who are doing ok, and loving the current climate.ReplyDelete
Look at it from closer to the poverty line. The ad isn't aimed at you, but it still hits you; you, the working class American, are doing it tough, and WE recognise that. You won't be buying our cars, because you can't afford them, but we want you to feel better about us anyway.
So it is a very clever ad, focussing on selling to the rich, and reassuring the poor.
yes it is smartly advertised.. targets the rich class.. and also don't out of focus the working classReplyDelete
I will be on TV after 5PM tomorrow. Discussing my compounded Student Loan Debt.ReplyDelete
People don't seem to understand that 10 to 15 or more years of ever growing hopeless Student Loan debt after all the hard work of getting to graduation and many hundreds of hours of exams will, or at least can-turn even the most rational person a bit nuts.
Make a person lost in space and a sort or Pariah on the outside looking in.
But Student Loan Debt is after all a taboo topic.
Why is Student loan Debt a taboo topic in the mainstream media?
I'll be looking for you jdpainterguy!! You have a lot of support !!ReplyDelete
This is very interestingly doneReplyDelete
LawProf, FYI . . .ReplyDelete
Did anyone here submit a comment? If not, how do you have the time to comment here when you don't have the time to respond to a CFPB request for comments on student loans?
"But Student Loan Debt is after all a taboo topic."ReplyDelete
PLEASE see my comment above. Thank you.
your this post is also very interesting "In dreams begin responsibilities"ReplyDelete
it is very interesting post..ReplyDelete
this is very interesting post. thanks for share..ReplyDelete
It is a business tactics dude..ReplyDelete
I am stunned that your law school has not sent the turk to banish you from its premises and to black ball you from the so called 'profession' of law. You do have a set of balls that are quite large. Do you fear for your job Mr. Campos? You are truly doing God's work. God bless.ReplyDelete
Oh Condition is the toughest on that list. I'm grateful DJM is on the case, I bet the OSU statistics come to be absolutely dreadful.ReplyDelete
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