Movies

Instapundit on Hollywood's Oscar-Winning Cronyism

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Want to see cronyism and favoritism at work in the economy? Before you settle in to watch tonight's Oscars, think about the ways in which Hollywood trims its costs at taxpayer expense. Here's Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit writes in a must-read Wall Street Journal piece:

Of the nine "Best Picture" nominees in 2012…five were filmed on location in states where the production company received financial incentives, including "The Help" (in Mississippi) and "Moneyball" (in California). Virginia gave $3.5 million to this year's Oscar-nominated "Lincoln."

Such state incentives are widespread, and often substantial, but they don't do much to attract jobs. About $1.5 billion in tax credits and exemptions, grants, waived fees and other financial inducements went to the film industry in 2010….

But at least all that dough creates good-paying jerbs, right?

The $1.5 billion in subsidies that states provide, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "would have paid for the salaries of 23,500 middle school teachers, 26,600 firefighters, and 22,800 police patrol officers." Or it could have gone to cut taxes on small businesses, which, as [actress Eva] Longoria noted in her DNC speech, produce two out of three jobs in the economy.

Read the whole thing here.

Over the years, Reason has been all over the non-existent case for film subsidies like Rex Reed on a celebrity profile.

Read our coverage here.

And watch our interview on the subject with Gavin Polone, the producer behind entertainment as great and varied as Zombieland, The Gilmore Girls, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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  1. Before you settle in to watch tonight’s Oscars-

    NEVER!

    And, are we claiming that Hollywood doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes?

    1. Why yes, yes we are.

    2. Seriously. I can’t imagine why any intelligent person would want to waste his valuable time watching the fucking Oscars.

      1. A-fucking-men. I’m reading Gibbon tonight, read an Atlas with my daughter, make some pancakes, grind some espresso beans for a friend, set up my Mac, consider a trade offer in my hockey pool and will catch up on some Italian soccer highlights. Forza Milan!

        The Oscars are gibberish.

        For the record, Lincoln was a solid movie. Lewis was simply mind blowing as Lincoln. Good job.

  2. Off topic:
    Glen Back was ranting about libertarians yesterday (maybe friday) being purists and overly critical of people coming to the movement late. I tended to agree with him. I must say I have seen him learn along the way, drugs, foreign interventionism, patriot act.=, etc. I am curious if anyone knows what he set him off particularly. He mentioned they were at the convention (big L) and I didn’t see them (saw Quinn of course). It just sounded like he was impugned by Big Ls…which is quite possible an highly likely.

    1. I don’t pay much attention to Glenn Beck. So I have no idea what his issue is. But I do know that Libertarians love killing their own for heresy more than pretty much anything else.

      1. We are highly skeptical people. It’s only natural we would eat our own.

      2. Still like robc’s(?) take on how everyone agrees with libertarians on some things, but two libertarians can’t agree on anything.

        1. There was an interesting article in Forbes the other day about the coming death of the Republican Party establishment. Basically the leaders of the party are selling out their supporters in the same way the Whigs sold out theirs in the 1850s. Someone is going to represent these millions of voters fucked by the R leadership.

          That could be libertarians. The problem is that Libertarians will never budge on things like immigration, which said millions feel pretty strongly about.

          1. I was at a bar last night with my liberty-minded friend. We were discussing the failure of the GOP and it’s leadership. A dude sitting at the bar overheard us, and engaged us in conversation. He stated he voted for Romney, and was shocked (shocked!) to learn my friend and I both broke ranks, and voted for Gary Johnson. He kept insisting we should have voted Romney. He was seriously upset that we challenged the party by voting based on morals, as opposed to blindly voting “R”.

            Long story short, we explained that the GOP was changing. Rapidly. We are the new face of the GOP. Where the old guard will settle is up for debate; they’ll probably split and form the “America Party” or some such nonsense. If the GOP lasts into the future it will have to become more libertarian.

            1. I just love how after 7 consecutive candidates being either Yankee moderates, Rockefeller Republicans, “compassionate conservatives”, or establishment dinosaurs, anyone thinks the Republican Party is capable of leading any kind of campaign for change.

              The Democrats know how to do it. Barack Obama has fundamentally changed the country. There are more people getting a government check then ever before. People getting a government check will not vote to cut government. Some might, but 90% will not. They never stop moving the ratchet. Every chance they get, they take more and more power for the State. When the GOP is in charge, they collect taxes and administer the State. It never gets smaller, we never recover lost liberty. With the sole exception of gun rights, we are less free now then we were 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 60 years ago.

              The Republican Party is a scuttling turnkey who changes the straw and oils the chains in the prison the Democratic Party has built. Anyone who thinks they’re going to break through the walls is nuts.

              1. Yeah, the Democrats are so fucking skilled. They can convince people to vote to get free money. That is one hell of a sales job. [/sarcasm]

                If the GOP nominated someone like Johnson or Ron Paul they would go down in flames. You may have noticed that Gary Johnson was on the ballot in almost every state and still got less than 1% of the vote. And don’t give me shit about how if he’d been nominated by the GOP he would have gotten more — it’s not right for you to expect to reap what others have sowed. You want to build up the LP into a major party, get to work.

                1. I don’t really understand this comment, because Johnson was a Republican for his entire career, so he wouldn’t have been reaping what others have sown anymore than he was when he was the Republican governor of New Mexico. And as a Republican candidate, had he been successful at that, it is dead certain he would have received more than 1% of the vote. You are not seriously trying to imply that the Republicans out there who disagree with Johnson about one of his more libertarian positions would have actually voted for Obama or just stayed home, right? Johnson might not have won as a Republican (honestly, I don’t think that most young voters would have voted for him even though they agree with him on many issues, just because of the R), but he would have certainly received more votes than he did. And would have been reaping what he had sown as a longtime Republican.

            2. Haha, when I get into those discussions I’m always more concerned with remedial civics and explaining why voting for either of the big party candidates is a waste of time in CA.

            3. He kept insisting we should have voted Romney. He was seriously upset that we challenged the party by voting based on morals, as opposed to blindly voting “R”.

              I posted in the DUI thread this idiotic TEAM RED furball of stoopid that is being passed around FB.

              THAT’s the main reason not to vote R. A bunch of yahoos who are more concerned with them dirty Mezicans coming to take ‘der jerbs, than they are about the ballooning powers of the state. Their solution is to set up another competing behemoth of oppression.

              Fucking geniuses.

          2. The LP doesn’t want to grow. They’re totally unwilling to make the compromises necessary to manage a coalition, which any major party in US politics must be due to our voting system. And there are some serious “big fish in small pond” issues with the leadership.

            1. Who the fuck is talking about the LP?

            2. The LP doesn’t want to grow.

              What’s your next guess?

              The LP already tried nominating a Name Brand Politician, you might remember a warmed-over republican named Bob Barr. What he did was demonstrate the futility of abandoning principle to try to gain more popularity.

              -jcr

      3. Let’s just say that the libertarian movement would do well to spend less time reading Ayn Rand and more time reading Dale Carnegie.

        1. Tulpa, did you know that you made Instapundit and Ace of Spades with that line? http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/164009/
          and in the Feb 28 overnight open thread http://ace.mu.nu/ Congrats

    2. I must say I have seen him learn along the way, drugs, foreign interventionism, patriot act.=, etc

      Has Glenn Beck come a long way the way Obama “came a long way” after becoming president? Ie, loving foreign military interventions, warantless wiretapping, the PATRIOT act, jamming whistleblowers?

      I fear that if Glenn Beck has “come a long way”, it’s only because Obama is in charge. Will he “go a long way back” if another standard issue Republican gets back into office?

      1. Beck ripped on the GOP establishment quite a bit even when Bush was in office. I don’t see how you can compare BO’s long journey to statism (which wasn’t that long) to Beck’s journey towards liberty-friendliness.

        1. I’m not comparing him to anything. I’m asking the real question. I’m not a Beck follower, other than I know he was a speech writer for George W Bush turned pundit.

          So I’m merely asking if he’s what I’ve seen from other so-con pundits who always seem to find their small government DNA (be it ever so small) when a liberal gets in charge?

          1. You were asking whether Beck’s change was comparable to Obama’s. I answered in the negative.

            If I’m terse with my response it’s because a lot of people cloak their agenda-pushing as JustAskingQuestions(TM).

          2. Paul, I think you’re thinking of David Frum (he’s the speechwriter turned pundit from the last Bush admin.) Beck has been doing radio/tv talk shows since before Bush came into office.

            Also, I’d say that he’s not changed a whole lot since I’ve been listening to him off and on since around 2005. He cries a bit less.

    3. The problem is that conservatives want to drag their conservatism into the movement and claim it’s libertarian. I have a friend who worked on the Gary Johnson campaign and kept claiming libertarians didn’t want to legalize heroin. I know others who think closed borders and protectionism are libertarian stances. And of course there’s that Donderooooooo fellow that think killing brown skinned Arabs is what libertarianism is about.

      As for Glen Beck, he needs to demonstrate that he’s a libertarian before I accept him as one. He’s welcome as a guest but until he’s one of us he is not one of us.

  3. I can’t get that worked up over exemptions and waived fees (at least those are just letting people keep more of “their” money).

    Fuck the fact that they don’t offer the same exemptions and waivers to other businesses.

  4. Hollywood doesn’t need to pay taxes. It contributes to the government in kind.

    1. So much this. The endless stream of pro big government liberal propaganda that emanates from Hollywood 365 days s year is worth a thousand times the 1.5 billion tax break they’re getting.

  5. About $1.5 billion in tax credits and exemptions, grants, waived fees and other financial inducements went to the film industry in 2010..

    followed by

    The $1.5 billion in subsidies that states provide..

    Tax credits, exemptions and waived fees are NOT SUBSIDIES! Stealing less of someone’s money is not equal to subsidizing them.

    1. It’s really using the liberal language to point out their hypocrisy on the issue. If, say, Walmart were to get a tax break to build a store, it will be treated as if Walmart was sending out a death squad to shoot teachers and police officers. If the same place gives a tax break to a film production, it’s considered a smart way to bring business and jobs.

      1. Except he’s not pointing out hypocrisy at all, he’s playing it straight.

    2. Stealing less of someone’s money is not equal to subsidizing them.

      While I agree with you in principle, unless they’re reducing spending by the same amount, that loss of tax revenue is going to come from someone else eventually. So, yeah, it is.

      1. That assumes that if you didn’t give them a tax break, you would get all the tax revenue.

        In this case, it’s easy for a movie producer to just go somewhere else if you don’t give them a tax credit, in which case you get zero tax revenue from them also.

    3. Sure it is. If another company doesn’t get the break, it’s tantamount to a subsidy for the one that does.

      The notion that fewer taxes paid, no matter how haphazard the exemptions, is good for the Cause is counterproductive. Differing rates resulting from political favoritism results in “picking winners and losers” and, as is alleged by you guys, disrupts the purity of the market mechanism. A tax break is a form of a subsidy by any practical definition.

      1. I agree with Tony. I’m going to go jump off a bridge because the world no longer makes sense.

      2. The proper remedy for any unfairness w/r/t tax exemptions is to REDUCE the tax for everyone to the same level.

        -jcr

  6. The $1.5 billion in subsidies that states provide, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “would have paid for the salaries of 23,500 middle school teachers, 26,600 firefighters, and 22,800 police patrol officers.”

    It’s a trap!

    1. He’s right. Let’s spend that $1.5 billion on teachers, firefighters and police officers instead. It’s common sense.

      P.S. We forgot to cut the ‘subsidies’ to films.

    2. “The $1.5 billion in subsidies that states provide, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “would have paid for the salaries of 23,500 middle school teachers, 26,600 firefighters, and 22,800 police patrol officers.”

      When, in 1979? 1.5 billion divided by 72,900 comes out to approximately $20,576 a person. Talk about some fuzzy math.

      1. I also like how they mention salaries, not benefits and payroll taxes and all the other things that make up the true cost of employing someone.

      2. You’re making the mistake of thinking he is saying we can have all of those things when he is saying we can have 23.5k teachers OR 26.6k firefighters OR 22.8k cops. Or, not and.

        1. In that case, he ought to use the word “or” to make himself more clear, not “and”.

  7. Whelp, he’s directed his last movie…

  8. “I As a general concept, but not situationally, I believe in freedom”

    There’s a lot of room for “oh shit” in that statement.

    For instance, Obama believes in civil rights generally, but not situationally.

  9. I am curious if anyone knows what he set him off particularly.

    Based on the mockery and ridicule Beck is subjected to here, I’m guessing he’s whining because people won’t take his assertions of libertarianism at face value.

    Like Fearless Fosdick. Some things really are dealbreakers.

    1. We have a real big issue with people claiming to be libertarian, because the one thing we have going for us is a consistent, predictable ideology. With the exception of abortion, every other issue has an ideal libertarian position. We argue about the incremental steps, but all of us can agree what the goal is. It’s not like the GOP with insurance mandates, or the Democrats with the Iraq War. We know what a libertarian is, and we really hate it when someone like Bill Maher claims to be one.

      1. the one thing we have going for us is a consistent, predictable ideology.

        No, you don’t. Nobody does.

        With the exception of abortion, every other issue has an ideal libertarian position.

        No, it doesn’t. Are you saying that Ron Paul is not a libertarian due to his positions on gay marriage and immigration?

        On MOST issues there is a clear position, though often this is due to the fact that the status quo is so far from liberty that any pro-liberty positon looks the same when viewed from it. Look at gun rights, for instance. If the status quo were that machine guns were legal and the going issue was whether people should have to get a permit to carry machine guns around town on their daily errands, there would be a ton of division even among libertarians.

        1. Yeah, it looks to me like libertarians don’t even agree on tax policy at the most basic level.

          I always thought that low taxes was a core tenet of libertarianism, but I’ve had self-proclaimed libertarians right here in Reason comments tell me that they think taxes should be raised to help pay for our insane levels of government.

          1. Well if you’re starting from day 1 you would want taxes to be super low (as a minarchist, not an ancap). We’re not starting from day 1 as previous generations have assraped us.

          2. No, that’s one of those Standard Libertarian Disclaimer moments. If I was given dictatorial power tomorrow, I would set up Libertopia.

            But what you’re referring to is trying to pick the lesser of two evils from a libertarian perspective, and one of the valid positions is that inflation is a hidden tax, and if you don’t balance the budget then that wealth just gets siphoned off by inflation anyway. So a libertarian could be in favor of raising taxes on the grounds that it’s better to pay the cost of the mega State up front, rather then in the hidden tax of inflation. Thus, the SLD “Well obviously we shouldn’t have a welfare/warfare state, but if you’re going to have one it should be funded by taxing the living, not the unborn generations of future Americans.”

        2. No, it doesn’t. Are you saying that Ron Paul is not a libertarian due to his positions on gay marriage and immigration?

          Ron Paul’s positions on both are defensible under the idea that it’s a step towards the ideal:

          “Well obviously government should get out of marriage entirely, but if that’s not going to happen then states should be able to set their own policies.”

          “Well, we should end the welfare state, but if it’s going to exist it should be open only to people who have paid American taxes to fund it.”

          1. Plus, Paul is a constitutionalist first and foremost. He aligns with libertarianism because the American Constitution is a minarchist and libertarian friendly document. But he’s also a staunch federalist, and he believes that things like gay marriage and abortion “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

            I’d argue Paul is not a libertarian in some sense, because a libertarian is always for the advancement of individual liberty, which means they can switch sides on a case by case basis on federalism. For example, if the federal government rammed gun confiscation through the federal legislature, Texas might defy them, and in this a libertarian should support Texas.

            If the same legislature rammed through a law forcing all states to grant marriage licenses to gays, then a libertarian should support the federal government, while a federalist would support Texas, even if they thought Texas was wrong, because they supported the principle of federalism.

            1. If the same legislature rammed through a law forcing all states to grant marriage licenses to gays, then a libertarian should support the federal government,

              Hogwash.

              A libertarian should say it’s none of the government’s business who gets married, there should be no need for a permission slip from the government to marry, and would also recognize the moral hazard of assigning marriage a status of “right” (namely that this can be used to violate others’ free exercise of religion).

            2. Opposing federalism means always increasing the power of the federal government and weakening the rule of law (states unbound by law are always tyrants in the long run). So no, it’s not obvious what the libertarian position should be in that case.

  10. Preferential treatment is preferential treatment.

  11. He kept insisting we should have voted Romney. He was seriously upset that we challenged the party by voting based on morals, as opposed to blindly voting “R”.

    You spent the evening with Tulpa?

  12. http://co-ironwill.blogspot.co…..n-his.html

    Keep asking the thug the same question, until you get the answer you want.

  13. How much in tax subsidies did Drive receive?

    (And yep, I’m hijacking this into a “Drive got snubbed last year!” thread.)

  14. I always confuse Eva Longoria and Sofia Vergara (who is dating a GOP pol).

    Anyway this analysis is a tad silly, since the state never actually had possession of most of that $1.5B in “subsidies”. The money “lost” to tax credits/exemptions and waived fees cannot be used to hire teachers, etc, if the business that would pay the taxes and fees don’t bother coming to your state.

    Also a bit weird considering that, back when we were discussing ending the Bush tax cuts, it used to be an article of faith here at Reason that a tax break was not a subsidy.

    1. How do you mix up a petite Mexican American actress with a very busty Colombian one?

  15. Good interview. Of course, to the left-wing this is all insane heresy.

  16. The more I look at Libertarian-oriented websites, the more I realize they’re defining the discussion.

    Great info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues worldwide, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization @ http://www.Libertarian-International.org and also http://www.isil.org ….

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