Separate Film and State

The government should play no role in film or art generally, for many of the same reasons it should play no role in religion. (The government should universally prevent force and fraud, as by pursuing thieves of artworks, but in such cases the government’s actions do not bear on the nature of the art.)

Earlier this month, the Denver Post published the article by Jason Blevins,“Colorado’s new film commission chief wants to boost state’s movie-making incentives.” While the first part of the piece reads like cheerleading for the idea, finally Blevins mentions a critical study. And he quotes Harris Kenny, “Basically, this thing has become an arms race. I call it a race to the bottom.”

I wrote up some comments at the time that I thought I’d reproduce here:

Getting the state involved in cinema is a bad idea. Direct subsidies, as with the proposal to impose a special tax on movie tickets, unjustly forces Coloradans to finance films against their will. This violates not only their economic liberty but their right of free speech, which includes the right not to support ideas one opposes. Discriminatory tax programs unfairly tax some businesses more than others. The government should tax everyone the same low rate, not play favorites.

Moreover, playing favorites doesn’t pay off in the long run, because it just spurs an expensive bidding war with other states. The impact on tourism is murky at best, especially given the direction of resources away from other possible tourist activities.

If the government wants to promote business in Colorado, it should offer appealingly low taxes and fewer hassles to all comers.