(Paul Jacob/Common Sense) – Everybody wants to be in pictures, it’s said. Michiganders, who’ve been funding moviemaking with their taxes for years, should try digital cameras and YouTube. The state’s governor, Rick Snyder, has proposed a new budget slicing and dicing the state’s generous (read: foolhardy) film subsidy and tax credit system.
This is called a “blow to Hollywood.” One nifty headline dramatizes the new situation: “Michigan to Hollywood — Get Off My Lawn,” with photo of Clint Eastwood on the porch of his Gran Torino house, wielding a shotgun.
Over the top.
Tax credits and tax subsidies given only to moviemakers are wrong on several grounds, as I’ve argued before (see “Knot Cannibalism” and “Cinema Without Subsidy“). Of course, the red tape and high taxes associated with setting up any business are wrong, too. You may say that the state’s gotta raise funds, but it most definitely shouldn’t kill the geese that lay the eggs, golden or Technicolor.
Taxes should apply equally, all around. Low taxes evenly spread will entice businesses — including moviemakers — into an area, if other locales remain over-taxed and confusing.
Some will cry “jobs!” but the word isn’t magic. Real jobs can be measured. Michigan’s subsidies created mainly temporary part-time jobs for Michiganders. According to a commissioned study, “Michigan spent $378,240.74 per job in 2008; $586,779.18 per job in 2009.”
No film incentive, it turns out, “has generated as much revenues as it has taken from the treasury.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.