Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Foreign View of Corporate Welfare

The Economist weighs in.

Best State In A Supporting Role

THE luminaries of the film world flocked to Los Angeles this week to celebrate the 71st Golden Globe awards and quiver before the unveiling of the Oscar nominations. But more often they travel the other way. Thanks to generous incentive schemes offered by other states and countries, America’s movie capital has lost its lustre: only two live-action movies with budgets over $100m were filmed in Los Angeles last year. Half as many feature films were produced in the city last year as in 1996, according to Film LA, a private non-profit organisation. Television drama is 39% below its 2008 peak.

In America the craze for this peculiar type of corporate welfare began in 2002, when New Mexico set up a juicy programme of tax credits and interest-free loans. By 2007 30 films were being shot in the Land of Enchantment and other states wanted in; by 2009 only a handful did not offer producers some kind of bribe. It was New Mexico’s tax credits, not its vast desert skies, that lured the TV hit “Breaking Bad” away from California. ...

My position on this kind of crap? I hate it. Just like I hate tax-payers underwriting sports stadiums and oil companies and other schemes that benefit a Chosen Few sitting atop the economic pyramid.

But let us face it: These schemes will go on, and some of the trickle down will help working stiffs, and only slowly, bit-by-bit, will voters wake up. But hey. We live in a corporatist state, so what the hell can we expect?


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