Hollywood’s Predators Are State Subsidized

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Who enabled Hollywood’s sexual harassers and predators? There are many answers to that question in the ongoing debate about power, sex and abuse, but let’s not forget one group of people who have backed the predators.

The taxpayers of California.

The state has long backed TV and movie production with tax credits. Among the tax-subsidized projects are at least one from virtually every man whose name is now circulating in news reports. Today, Hollywood productions get more than $300 million in tax credits annually.

The arguments against such tax credits are overwhelming. They don’t really work to boost production in California (recent increases in production have other causes). They gobble up scarce state dollars. They are a transfer of money from other state regions to Los Angeles, and the state doesn’t get any kind of ownership stake for its investments.

And then of course, thee beneficiaries of these tax breaks are wealthy Hollywood types.

Who, as it turns out, condone an awful lot of bad behavior, and sometimes participate in it themselves.

The power to get tax credits is just one small piece of the excessive power of Hollywood. But it’s a power that can be curbed by the state and its policymakers.

One good thing that would come out of the current scandals would be for the state to stop subsidizing Hollywood. Let them misbehave on their own dime.

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