Some Hollywod execs working in Wilmington just can’t understand why some North Carolina citizens may be upset that they are receiving special tax breaks unavailable to “the little people.”
Wilmington film industry representatives lashed out Wednesday against recent political ads – partly funded by PPD founder Fred Eshelman – which are critical of Democratic state lawmakers who voted in favor of better film incentives in North Carolina.
“It’s a total negative smear against the film industry,” said Kelly Tenney, a producer of the television series “One Tree Hill,” which films in the Wilmington area.
A new political group, Real Jobs NC, which is partly funded by Eshelman, paid for television ads and mass mailings arriving in mailboxes of voters across the state. One mailing sent to various legislative districts criticizes Democratic lawmakers, who, along with some Republicans, voted in favor of improving the incentives package that film production companies receive if they shoot movies in the state.
“They’re missing the point,” Tenney said of the ads. “The films have to come to North Carolina, and they have to spend the money first.”
On that last point, Tenney is right. But the point that he is missing is that the same can be said for every other type and size of business as well. Businesses of all sizes that operate in North Carolina will spend money here, too. The difference is that most other businesses won’t be able to enjoy the same tax breaks that Tenney and his politically-connected Hollywood big shots were able to “persuade” state lawmakers into granting them. And let’s not forget that research shows the net fiscal impact of these film tax credits are likely to be negative.
Another Hollywood exec was completely puzzled that anybody could perceive their special treatment as unfair:
Bill Vassar, executive vice president of EUE/Screen Gems, also was surprised by the ads.
“I have no other words for it other than it’s left us and me perplexed,” he said. “I don’t understand it.”
Perhaps I can help explain it, Mr. Vassar. The majority of hard-working people are tired of seeing power over the economy’s resources taken out of their hands and concentrated further to a small privileged political and politically-connected class of elitists. As I explained in a recent article:
Under this scenario of targeted “economic incentives,” a company can gain an advantage over its competitors by being relieved of one of its expenses (taxes). This advantage, granted courtesy of the political class, will help determine which businesses succeed or fail in the marketplace; and therefore influence who owns a greater share of the state’s means of production and how they are used.
Benefiting from this system, of course, are those businesses with the appropriate political clout receiving the tax breaks, along with the politicians eager to record public relations victories by claiming they are “creating jobs” as they dispense their political favors.
Consumers, on the other hand, are left with fewer choices and less sway over determining who controls the economy’s scarce resources and to what purposes they are applied.
In other words, power is shifted away from the masses and back to the elite class of government officials and the politically connected.