Pity Big Film

Another pathetic plea for continued taxpayer support of the film industry located in Wilmington North Carolina was published by the StarNews. An editorial in “Your Letters” (July 10, 2014) illustrates the ignorance and selfishness of many people in our current society—and how government intrudes in all of our activities.

The writer, identified as Tom Priestley a self-described “cameraman and director of photography,” accused the North Carolina General Assembly of “destroying an entire industry.” Why? Because they might “alter the film incentives program.” Translation: This industry can’t afford to operate in North Carolina without bribes by government officials with taxpayer funded payoffs—shifting the tax burdens to others. It can’t make money in Wilmington under open market conditions. Without government support, Big Film might move to another state where politicians may offer larger bribes—we don’t know if this is true, but the threat to leave keeps the public’s money coming from Raleigh to these people.

Of course, this begs the question: Why can’t the film industry support its own productions from business revenue without taxpayer subsidies? Has Big Film assumed a nonprofit quasi-government status? Is it so financially weak that it can’t survive on its own earned resources? (Noting some of its modern productions, I can understand why few people will pay to see them—maybe that explains the real need for “incentives.”)

We call this arrangement crony capitalism: presumed private enterprises that profit from government programs and regulations. According to Mr. Priestley’s reasoning, Big Film would not be competitive here without North Carolina taxpayers propping up the productions. Yet, he argues that this State has “great weather, great locations and…qualified and experienced crew members.”

If this is true, why haven’t State officials “sold” North Carolina on merit rather than public money? But, I guess it’s appropriate: an industry peddling make-believe must be supported by phony financial arrangements. Mr. Priestly refers to film-making in North Carolina as a “vibrant industry.” Apparently, it’s all a mirage; or smoke-and-mirrors.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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