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Why can't states grasp the absurdity of giving welfare to film and TV producers?

In the definitive document on this issue -- a paper published in December by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities -- senior fellow Robert Tannenwald notes what he tactfully calls "flaws" in various studies the states have commissioned to justify the subsidy. Even after our recent experience with gullible or mendacious accountants in financial scandals like Enron's, it's actually shocking that reputable accounting firms would pull some of these stunts, such as counting the allowances film crews get paid for expenses as a benefit to the state, then counting the same money again when it is spent. Or assuming without explanation that the average film crew member makes $82,400 a year, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics sets that figure at $35,000. The most outrageous double counting, of course, is telling one state after another that it can bring in billions by enticing the same movies away from other states.

-- Michael Kinsley




Movie math

Why can't states grasp the absurdity of giving welfare to film and TV producers?

By Michael Kinsley

March 1, 2011


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