Property taxes? Apparently not a concern. Relief for small businesses struggling under the Gross Margins Tax? Who cares! Providing public transparency for our education dollars? Maybe some other time. So what was the first bill to be considered by the Texas House? Subsidies and “incentives” for Hollywood.
The allegedly Republican-run Texas House is making it easier for Hollywood to reach into the state coffers under the legislation brought forward by Austin Democrat Dawnna Dukes.
Supporters liken these subsidies and incentives to property tax abatement — not exactly a winning comparison. Any time government subsidizes a specific business or industry (or gives them a pass on paying the generally levied taxes), the burden on everyone is higher than it should otherwise be.
Economic development doesn’t arise from government picking winners (those receiving special treatment) and losers (everyone else).
Instead, economic development occurs when all market actors are free to engage with minimal government intrusion and disruption, and individuals freely invest their resources in the businesses (and business models) that appeal to them. Government is inherently bad at wise investment. Anyone noticed the operations of Frannie and Freddie?
My favorite rally-cry among supporters of this silly effort is Texas must engage in this reckless subsidization of Hollywood because other states do it. Yes, states that are — to a one — bankrupt and hemoragging jobs. So while the movie industry might be “healthy” in those states, every other business is shutting down and employment is dropping like a rock. Yes, let’s do that, too.
Sorry, but just because “everyone else does it” isn’t exactly a sound method by which to judge economic or moral virtue.
In the absence of doing the right thing — cutting taxes and regulations for everyone — legislators are happy to give breaks to those with the sexiest lobby and glitziest spokesmen. After all, that concentrates even more power in the hands of the legislators. But that’s not a good way to do the people’s business.
So while you consider how your family can afford to pay property taxes this year, and wonder if your business will stay afloat another month, rest happy knowing your tax dollars are flowing into the multi-billion-dollar entertainment industry. Maybe you’ll get mentioned in the credits.