RUSH: Well, guess what the average annual salary, including benefits, for stagehands at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York is? Take a guess. Literally, take a guess. The average for stagehands. Let me tell you what a stagehand does. A stagehand moves the props around; takes the chairs, moves them around; puts up the music stands. That’s what a stagehand does. A stagehand is not a performer. In New York at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center (there are a number of different performing halls at Lincoln Center) $292,000 a year is the average salary. It is a union salary. It’s a union job. Now, all of you parents out there who have children who are showing artistic talents, prodigies in the musical arts?
Throw it out. Send ’em to New York and have ’em become stagehands. That way they get to spend all day… Well, I don’t know how many days or how many hours a day they work. They spend all that time at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and 292 grand is the average. This was the result of the stagehands threatening to go out on strike not long ago, and if you go talk to a musician and ask them, the musicians don’t make anywhere near this. The performers, if you go ask them about it, you won’t find one critic. If the stagehands don’t show up, nobody can work. It’s $292,000 a year (laughing) for stagehands. ‘What do you got get stagehands, Mr. Limbaugh?’ Nah, I got nothing against stagehands. Everybody needs to do something. But I just…$292,000 a year. There’s a separate stagehand, by the way, that does nothing but raise and lower the curtain. One button. I kid you not. One stagehand lowers the curtain. It’s a button. Average salary: $292,000 a year.
RUSH: Here is Donna in Middletown Maryland as we start on the phones. Nice to have you with us. Hi.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thanks so much for taking my call.
RUSH: You bet.
CALLER: I really enjoyed your show yesterday, especially the bit about the Constitution and I agree with you on that point. We’ve got an uphill battle ahead of us. What intrigued me that you said earlier was the bit about Carnegie and the stagehands. And I think of the — oh, gosh, nearly 30 years of plugging away at the guitar in the music industry in various parts of the country, and, you know, I mean comparatively speaking to them, you know, definitely the starving musicians club. And I think it’s an outrage, and, you know, here I’m thinking about sending my son off to a good conservative college down the road, and he’s extremely gifted in musical talent, and I’m thinking to myself, jeez, I might as well send him back to New York to Carnegie, make a good living, he could support his parents. No, I’m only kidding, but you know where I’m going with this.
RUSH: Right, and you don’t even need to spend the money or the time in college to get the gig.
CALLER: Yeah, it’s a joke, it’s honestly a joke. I mean, I don’t know about you, but, you know, looking back, I’m very glad that we pounded the pavement all these years, and I’m gonna continue to do so. And there’s nothing wrong with it, and I don’t expect any handouts.
RUSH: Well, it’s an interesting story. It’s columnist James Ahearn in the Bergen Record, New Jersey, and here are the numbers. ‘At Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, the average stagehand salary and benefits package is $290,000 a year. To repeat, that is the average compensation of all the workers who move musicians’ chairs into place and hang lights, not the pay of the top five. Across the plaza at the Metropolitan Opera, a spokesman said stagehands rarely broke into the top-five category. But a couple of years ago, one did. The props master, James Blumenfeld, got $334,000 at that time, including some vacation back pay.’ The top paid stagehand at Carnegie Hall, $422,599 a year in salary, plus another $107,445 in benefits and deferred compensation. So the top paid stagehand at Carnegie Hall earns well over half a million dollars a year. And of course it is a union.
How to account for all this? ‘The power of a union, Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. ‘Power,’ as in the capacity and willingness to close most Broadway theaters for 19 days two years ago when agreement on a new contract could not be reached.’ And they went out and found a violinist, Kelly Hall-Tompkins, to ask her, ‘Well, what do you think of all the money stagehands are making?’ She said, ”The last thing I want to do is upset the people at Carnegie Hall. I’d like to have a lifelong relationship with them.’ She is a violinist who recently presented a recital in Weill Hall, one of the smaller performance spaces in the building.
She said she begrudged the stagehands nothing: ‘Musicians should be so lucky to have a strong union like that.” (interruption) Yeah. That’s right, watch out for the sandbag. I mean if you tick off the stagehands and you happen to be sitting there playing the violin and one of those sandbags is dropped from the top squishing your neck and compressing your spine then you’ll never know what happened and these kinda accidents happen all the time. I saw it in Murder, She Wrote every other week.
RUSH: By the way, don’t get any ideas of sending your kids off to New York to become members of Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. You have to be born into it. It is the most closed of all the unions. I’m told that you only get a job if you’re related to somebody in the union. Gotta be born into it, Local 1, closed shop, as they say.
RUSH: John, Sparta, New Jersey, you’re next with the EIB Network, hello — and remember, I can’t hear you and I can’t interrupt you. So when you finish, stop and I’ll respond. I’m reading what you’re saying. I’m a sentence behind you.
CALLER: Very good, Rush. I’m sorry to be calling you to disagree with you on something. I’ve been listening for so long and —
RUSH: Well, I love that. I can’t hear you.
CALLER: Oh, you can hear that?
RUSH: No, I’m reading. I’m reading what you’re saying.
CALLER: Oh, I’m sorry.
RUSH: Go ahead.
CALLER: Anyway, I gotta bring it back to the last hour because I gotta take task with something that you brought up on the stagehand unions in New York, the guys over at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. My son is a member of the stagehand unions, and he doesn’t… You know, first, my son is… He works long hours. He makes pretty good money for doing what he’s doing, but he works long hours, puts a lot of effort into what he does, and he works odd hours, and many days. The guys over Carnegie and Lincoln, they’re at the top of the game. Those guys have been in the business for a long time. They have, you know, amassed skills, and everything to bring to the table. That union is one of the few, I think, that are what you’d consider a free market union. I mean, you’re not gonna pay the money to see the shows to get in that pays them —
RUSH: (big sigh)
CALLER: — unless you enjoy what it is that they give you. So you’re taking them to task for how much they make, I find that kinda… You know, I hate that argument. You know, ‘Because they make so much money, they’re somehow bad.’ That’s the same argument that the Democrats and the use against the —
RUSH: No! No, no, no. In the first place, they are the sons and grandsons in that union. It’s not a meritocracy. I’m not talking about how little or long they work or how hard it is. I do know that a stagehand who raises and lowers the curtain pushes a button. All I said was that the New Jersey Bergen Record is reporting the average salary for the stagehand union is $292,000. I don’t know what your son makes, but that’s the average: $292,000. I throw it out there. Other people can decide whether it’s excessive or not. I did make the joke, ‘It’s far more sensible to send your kid to become a member of that union rather than become a violinist at Carnegie Hall or anywhere over at Lincoln Center,’ but I’m not opposed to people making money. Free market union? You could say ‘free market’ in that they sort of blackmailed the performers. (laughing) They shut down the stage for 19 days and so forth. But if you wonder why tickets to Broadway shows cost what they cost, that’s one of the factors. The violinists… I know people here. The violinists at Carnegie Hall make a hundred thousand dollars a year. They’re the top in their field, and it’s the violinists and the performers on the stage that people are coming to pay to see perform and so forth.
Hey, it is what it is.
I’ll draw a teacher analogy when we come back.
RUSH: I knew, ladies and gentlemen — I knew! — when I did the stagehand story that somebody was gonna call. I didn’t know it would be a relative of somebody who worked there, but I’ve been waiting. I knew somebody was gonna call and say, ‘What do you have against somebody make $292,000? I thought you were fine with people making money?’ I totally agree. If somebody is willing to pay it for that work, fine and dandy. I do know that opera tickets at the Met top out at around $435 a pop, so you’re not gonna have a whole lot of people other than the upper crust going to sit there and listen to an opera. They just hiked the prices up 11% this time last year.
By the way, the Metropolitan Opera and other places at Lincoln Center get a boatload of taxpayer money through grants, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities and so forth and so on. People, all the time, complain about how little teachers make; another complaint is how much athletes make. Let’s turn it around then. Let’s use the stagehand versus athletes. Let’s say that you’re a Yankees fan. Take Derek Jeter. Let’s say Derek Jeter makes (pick some arbitrary numbers here) half million dollars a year, and the ushers and usherettes make $2 million. Would that make sense to you, if the stagehands are making three times what the performers make?
In other words, Derek Jeter is making $10 million. Let’s take $10 million. So the ushers and usherettes are making $30 million. Well, obviously the economics of that aren’t gonna work out because nobody’s coming to Yankees Stadium to watch the ushers and usherettes. Well, you might have some perverts showing up but you’re not gonna fill the stadium with people who want to watch the ushers and usherettes seat people or wipe off seats or what have you. Teachers. Everybody says teachers are notoriously underpaid because of the truly crucial and important task they have of indoctrinating our youth. Okay, teachers, let’s pay ’em $500,000 a year or $300,000, like stagehands. You know what your property taxes are gonna be?
And you are paying. Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall are being subsidized. That’s the only reason they can stay in business. I guarantee you $435 a ticket at the top, at the Metropolitan Opera, is not enough to support the place to keep the lights on to pay the stagehands, the performers, and everything else that has to go on in there (and the same thing at Carnegie Hall) unless there is a whole lot of subsidizing going on. Let me find the story here. There’s a battle shaping up between private sector and public sector unions. Here it is. It’s the Wall Street Journal. It’s an editorial. No, it’s Bill McGurn (a noted friend of mine, by the way).
‘Labor’s Coming Class War — Private sector union workers begin to notice that their job prospects are at risk from public employee union contracts.’ I don’t have time to go through the whole story here with you, but believe me. Now, the stagehands are not public sector. They’re private sector unions. But they are an exception for the amount they make, the average salary they make of close to $300,000 a year versus the performers who (again, the violinists) top out at a hundred grand. So there’s a battle coming because everybody sees now what the public sector (i.e., government unions) are making.
And make no mistake, the government unions are every bit as attached to the left-wing, socialist agenda in this country as Obama is. They’re inseparable, and their objective is to break the private sector, break the bank and the private sector, to bust its will, to pare it down. There is an animus they have against it, and it’s a coming battle. Not just between private sector unions and public sector unions, but private sector employees, period. Private sector employees… Forget private sector unions. Private sector employees make half, on average, what government union workers make or government employees. They don’t even have to be unions in this case.
All right, Mike in Jackson, Michigan, welcome to the EIB Network, sir. It’s great to have you here. Hello.
CALLER: God bless you, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: This is exactly… You set me up perfectly. Umm. Umm. I just hope I can get my brain to work here. The left has been very —
RUSH: Don’t worry about it. Mine will take over if yours stalls.
CALLER: (laughing) I knew that. The left has been real patient putting this plan together. You know, you can call it socialism, progressivism, Cloward and Priven (sic), Bill Ayers, style thing, and there is gonna be a battle. There’s gonna be shutdowns, there’s gonna be problems, probably specifically tied to the cuts the Republicans are gonna be want to make to get this madness under control, the spending. But they’re building loyalties. It’s like you said: We’re glad when people make money, but they’re building loyalties, and these people are gonna fight to keep all this money they’re earning. The unions, the government workers. You’ve got the class warfare. You’ve got the media preaching to everyone. You’ve got the socialist professors teaching the kids to hate America and all that. Everything you talk about every day — and God bless you for it —
CALLER: — but it’s all a part of a plan. You can call it whatever you want. I’m a Christian man. I’ve always called it, ’cause I’m kind of a go-to person for people. They come and ask me, ‘Why? Why? Why?’ You know, and these people aren’t dumb. It’s not stupidity. I always call it ‘good versus evil.’ I’m a Christian man. But I know you don’t probably want to get off into that, but that’s what I call it. But there are gonna be problems. It’s gonna be. We’re gonna be Europe soon. I believe that. They’re gonna shut down transportation, food delivery, all that. I really feel it’s coming because they’re not gonna want to give up their big salaries. They’re gonna fight. They’re gonna battle for what they’ve got.
RUSH: Well, you’re seeing that in Europe, too. Let me — just playing devil’s advocate here — ask, ‘Can you blame ’em?’
CALLER: (chuckles) No! No! Exactly. It’s blind loyalty.
RUSH: What they’ve got is the result of negotiated agreements and contracts. That’s what they would tell you.
CALLER: Exactly. It’s blind loyalty. Yeah, yeah. They don’t see the bigger picture. They just want to keep buying their everything. Their toys, their everything. It’s blind loyalty. They don’t see it as good versus evil or whatever. They just want to keep living their life.
RUSH: Well, but doesn’t everybody?
CALLER: Exactly. Exactly. But it’s that blind loyalty to the cause. You know, and they don’t — may not — even really it’s for a bigger cause, but it really is. That’s why the government wants to keep giving — ‘giving’ in quotes; ‘giving away’ — free medicine, free food stamps, everything. It’s all to keep the votes rolling in. If you give something to someone —
RUSH: You mentioned Cloward-Piven. The purpose of Cloward-Piven is to overload the welfare system. Just overload it. It can’t survive. It totally crashes. Nobody has anything. You have total chaos. You have anarchy, because nobody has anything. Because without anybody working, nobody having a job, there’s nothing produced and there’s nothing to transfer, and nobody has anything. The people expecting to live off government largesse, there isn’t anyway. The people expecting to live off Social Security, welfare, there isn’t any if you take Cloward-Piven out to its natural conclusion. And during all this you have these people who say, ‘The government is good! It is the only good.’ They’ll do nothing but rely on government.
Cloward-Piven’s whole plan to destroy America, the whole objective to destroy America capitalism is to so overload the system with people who are not working but who are being given much more than livable wage benefits and so forth. They knew that that couldn’t be sustained. When the chaos comes, when the anarchy comes, the theory is that out of that will arise, who will then reassemble the country (without a constitutional convention). You’ll have a Chavez or a Castro. Somebody will rise up out of this and finally produce the workers paradise and assign people X, Y, and Z — where they can live, what they will do, what kind of work they’ll do — and freedom will be a thing of the past. That’s the objective.
I know it’s hard to understand, because people living in America — the vast majority of them — would look at the country and say, ‘What is it about this you want to destroy? What in the world? All of the wealth that’s been created here?’
‘Well, because we didn’t get any of it! We’re getting screwed and we’re gonna make sure everybody else gets screwed and suffers along with us. We want to show you what it’s been like.’
Because they think when The Great Dictator arises from the ashes, that they will be the chosen ones, that they’ll be the ones that will finally be in the circle of entitlement, the big clique, the chosen few who run things. And, like my dad always said in a laughing way, ‘Son, these liberal media people, if they ever really got a communist government here, the first people to be put in jail would be them and the people that employ them; and the first thing would be taken away from them would be their cameras and their microphones and then their pens and their paper. They’ll be the first. The biggest supporters of this stuff will be the first to go to jail.’
He laughed about it.
I said, ‘Sounds almost worth trying,’ and my dad, who didn’t see humor in this kind of stuff, chastised me for the comment.