The band KISS has been a staple in popular rock culture since the mid 1970’s.  Their over the top stage show  has made it a household name.   The members of KISS have created characters that have taken on a life of their own.  Over the years the band has had numberous line up changes, but has been held together by the Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.  These two devised an ingenious blend of dark and gaudy imagery with fairly radio friendly popular rock.  Though some my find their imagery somewhat demonic, their lyrics were rarely subversive, especially in the early days. 

KISS has become a major merchandising operation, selling everything from dolls to underwear.  Because of this, many people have accused Gene Simmons, the effective CEO of KISS marketing, of being materialistic.  But when you look at his background, as well as the economic principles at work, you realize that there is much more to this than a matter of someone taking advantage of his fans.

Gene Simmons was born in Haifa Israel on August 25, 1949.  He was born with the name Gene Klein.  A few years earlier, Israel and its people were involved in a struggle for their very lives.  When Israel issued it’s Proclamation of Independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab armies invaded the following day.  Many of the leaders of this force had the intent of  wiping out all of Israel’s inhabitants, including Gene’s mother. 

Thankfully, Israel prevailed, and Gene’s mother was able to raise her son in the new nation until 1958 when they moved to New York.   She and Gene survived because of Israel’s ability to acquire weapons.  At one point  the US and Great Britain had an arms embargo on the entire region that unfairly favored the attacking Arabs.  The Israel’s had to be resourceful, and they even had to smuggle weapons from Eastern Europe, which required them to have material resources in the first place.  Eventually, they were able to purchase weapons on a more normal level, and today they are one of the world’s most capable militaries.  They survived because they had devotion.  And they survived because they had the MATERIAL means to purchase these weapons in the first place.

There tends to be a  unity between the ability to create wealth and the ability to create a strong defense. 

British Invasion that forever changed the face of music was led by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles.  The parents of there band members lived through Germany’s attempted invasion of England.   The members of Black Sabbath grew up in Birmingham England. 

 Bassist Terry “Geezer” Butler commented  about “the craters down the street in our neighborhood from the bombs that the Germans dropped.”   Their were even some documents that revealed plans by Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich ( head of  SD and Gestapo) to turn Birmingham into an industrial work site and to subordinate all of its inhabitants to forced labor camps. 

The rock and roll of the 60’s was an organic celebration of the world’s triumph over the horrifying possibility that Nazi totalitarianism could have shaped the entire world. 

In a 2002 interview Gene Simmons described how WWII history related to his drive for success.  “My mother was a holocaust survivor.  She taught me to not take life for granted, but to take life for everything it offers.  No watching the ballgame on Sundays.”   Though we do not think watching football impedes ones ability to achieve, the point is well taken. 

Gene Simmons realized that the time one has is a resource, and can be either utilized or squandered.

And this is what is so wrong with Obama’s crusade against “the wealthy”.  He tries to frame “the rich” in terms of the “fat-cat CEO’s” that are being given  bonuses with the tax payers money.  But that is far from the norm.  Many of “the wealthy” are first generation millionaire who had jobs like pipe fitter, plumber, mechanic, electrician, or soime other trade that required them to perform a service or good that was in high demand.  These people often worked 60 hours a week, went to school at night, and saved their money for several years.   They put  that money into  either another small business, or some form of financial investment that helped the nation create wealth. 

They didn’t steal it, and they are not hurting anyone by having it.

There are those that say it is wrong for people like Gene Simmons to make so much money when school teachers make so much less.  But examining the concept of marginal revenue product shows that this is not the problem that it has been made out to be.  Economist Karl E. Case states “The marginal revenue product  (MPR) of a variable input  is the additional revenue a firm earns  by employing one additional unit of  that input.”    This simply means the profit the company makes after paying for the labor or advertising or what every variable factor is used in increase sales. 

Paying  Lebron James $43,779,912 a year does not cause ticket prices to go up, ticket prices go up because having  James makes the demand for tickets to increase.  That demand will occur no matter how much he is paid, but understanding this makes him demand more money from the owners.  And most of that figure is based on the television revenues that he is providing the team and league.  Those revenues come from selling advertising time to firms that make cars, computers, electic razors, and other things that make contribute to the nation’s  economy. 

Lebron James is moving product.  So is Gene Simmons.

And increase in ticket sales is not enough to discourage millions of people enjoying  live viewing of the Gene Simmons and Lebron James in action.  So unless these people have been tricked or coerced into feeling good about their purchases, the amount they are paid is just. 

And by the way, Gene Simmons was a school teacher before he was a rock star.  Bill O’Reilly and Roy Blount were also teachers.

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