Tag Archives: New Deal

Star Trek 50th Anniversary


Fifty years ago, Star Trek first appeared on American television. It is an example of successful brand management and historic timing. What most people do not know is what had to happen to make that possible. It started with one man.

First, Gene Roddenberry’s parents moved from Texas to Los Angeles in the 1920s. It put him in the neighborhood of the entertainment industry, but there was also a New Deal education program to teach people how to fly. Roddenberry graduated as a pilot and wound up fighting in the Pacific during WWII. The US Navy had a policy that personnel should not to disrupt local culture. I wonder if native peoples being caught up in a war between advanced civilizations stuck in his mind as the Prime Directive.

After the war he became a commercial pilot and had adventures around the world, including a plane crash in Iraq. That bit of excitement helped him decide to become a Los Angeles cop. Jack Webb hired him as a consultant and then writer for the TV show Dragnet. From there he cranked out scripts about cops, cowboys and soldiers. Tiring of this, he thought of a science fiction show about a naval vessel and its diverse crew in the future.

The second thing that needed to happen was a Cuban refugee named Desi Arnez. He arrived in Hollywood and married Lucille Ball in the 1940s. They sold CBS a television show about a diverse married couple that became one of the most successful shows in history. Selling Star Trek to NBC was one more diverse show, like Mission Impossible to CBS. They hired experienced actors. Oh, and they filmed it in color.

Third, they hired real science fiction writers like Harlan Ellison. As ridiculous as the show seemed, it was not a silly as Irwin Allen’s show Lost In Space.  (Harlan wrote for both shows, but you do not see Dr. Smith in the City Of The Edge Of Forever, do you?)

Fourth, even as NBC cancelled the show, Paramount put it in syndication so many people could see it many times. It developed a wider audience than when it was on network television. This led to more TV shows, movies and merchandising. You know a brand is successful when they name a space shuttle after it.

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


Mar. 16, 2015 The New Yorker

On Mar. 16, 2015 The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore wrote “Richer And Poorer” about measuring economic inequality. “Income inequality is greater in the United States than in any other democracy in the world.” Robert Putnam, author of “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” talks about people in Ohio being born and trapped in poverty. “His policy recommendations include expanding the earned-income tax credit and protecting existing anti-poverty programs; implementing more generous parental leaves, better child-care programs, and state-funded preschool; equalizing the funding of public schools, providing more community-based neighborhood schools, and increasing support for vocational high school programs and for community colleges; ending pay-to-play extracurricular activities in public schools and developing mentorship programs that tie schools to communities and community organizations.” Steve Fraser, author of “The Acquiescence: The Life And Death Of Resistance To Organized Wealth And Power” thinks poor people will have to vote back the New Deal protections they lost in the past thirty years. Political progress will be difficult according to a Columbia University study by Alfred Stepan and Juan J. Linz. Titled the “Gini Index of Inequality of Representation” it showed that the more vetoes a government has in its system, the more inequality there was in a country. Out of twenty three democracies, the United States had the highest inequality, particularly in the Senate.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 9, 2015 The New Yorker

On Feb. 9, 2015 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “A Fair Day’s Wage” about how after the New Deal and until the 1970s, many business paid a living wage, a policy supported by management specialists like Peter Drucker. Today, many companies “treat frontline workers as disposable commodities.” That may be changing. Recently, Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini read Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital In The Twentieth Century” and decided to raise his lowest paid workers hourly rate by at least twelve dollars an hour. Bertolini says “It’s hard for people to be fully engage with customers when they’re worrying about how to put food on the table.” MIT’s Zeynep Ton, author of  new book “The Good Job Strategy” says higher wages make “these companies end up with motivated, capable workers, better service, and increased sales.”

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 30, 2011 The New Yorker

On May 30, 2011 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “A Billion Prices Now” about policy makers not having enough accurate information to make timely decisions about the economy. Beginning with the New Deal, the government began collecting statistics to put together Gross National Product (GNP) that became today’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). To improve upon this, MIT economists Alberto Cavallo and Roberto Rigobin created the Billion Prices Project (BPP) which predicted the economic collapse of September 2008 two months before it showed up in government statistics in November. Having such information can help decide how much intervention or stimulus is needed. Of course it requires courageous politicians to act upon it.

Michael Specter wrote “Resistant” about the history of epidemics, vaccination and human rights. A plague can change history or destroy a civilization. Get your kids immunized.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.