While other states have come to their senses about subsidizing Hollywood, Texas’ lawmakers continue pumping taxpayer cash into a scheme of dubious value to Texans and our economy.
The Wall Street Journal reports today that states are halting the subsidies as they find footing the bill for films isn’t as glamorous as the latte-liberals in the film industry would have us all believe.
Though in all fairness, increasingly the programs are providing more work for lawyers as revelations of fraud are uncovered.
For example, the WSJ reports that in Iowa a film company was asking the taxpayers to foot the bill for the $900 rental of two six-foot ladders, $1,350 for the use of six orange traffic cones, and another $900 for an eight-foot ladder. Taxpayers also paid out because film producers needed a brand new Mercedes tour around in.
In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie has threatened to put a halt to the nearly half-million in film subsidies the Garden State is paying to the producers of “Jersey Shore.” The program is part of the so-called “reality TV” genre following the lives of what one Newark newspaper calls “a bunch of 20-something nitwits.”
Yet the Newark paper doesn’t want Christie to can the subsidies, saying it amounts to censorship. Talk about nitwits…
It’s not censorship; it is commonsense. It’d be censorship if the state prohibited the sale or distribution of the work. Choosing not to confiscate taxes from hard working citizens and redistribute the money to Hollywood producers? That’s called wise stewardship.
It is simply not the role of government to be in the movie-making business. Doing so, almost by default, puts the state in the position of selecting “artistic” winners and losers. And selecting them with other people’s money, no less.
If an industry cannot survive without forcibly confiscated revenues, that’s a pretty good sign the marketplace isn’t interested in whatever is being sold. If the producers of a film or TV show cannot attract willing investors from the marketplace, clearly the investment isn’t worth what they claim.
Texas had a chance to end our state’s film subsidy program this year when lawmakers confronted a $15 billion budget shortfall. State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) offered amendments to eliminate funding for the subsidies during the budget debate.
But rather than risk losing the chance at getting campaign-ready photo-ops with Hollywood starlets, legislators kept the program afloat while cutting elsewhere. There was so little support for abandoning them, Mr. Simpson withdrew the amendments before even getting a vote.
Proponents often make the economically dubious claim of local job creation resulting from the subsidies. Such propositions carry no intellectual or practical weight. Whatever jobs are “created” are fraction of the jobs lost/never created by the confiscation of taxes used to fund the programs themselves.
Propping up industries because of their political connections with tax dollars might create the illusion of success, but it is little more than an animated illusion.
The creation of a healthy business climate — whether for film, manufacturing, energy or retail — comes only through low taxes, sensible regulations and a predictable tort environment.