As a poster child for Democratic compassion, the state of Michigan, long known as the home of the auto industry, continues to show little signs of recovery. Despite massive infusions of taxpayer money (that will never be paid back) and business plans created by those “best and brightest” affirmatively-graduated Ivy Leaguers, the only American auto company that is turning a profit is the only one who didn’t knuckle under the government’s spell in the first place. Ford.
Michigan’s unemployment rate was the highest in the country at 14.6% as reported for December 2009, with the metropolitan Detroit area at 15.4% in November. Of course, the underemployed and those who’ve simply given up looking for work mean the real numbers are much higher.
So what does a true-blue state do when faced with such dire straights? They follow the lead of other lame-brain losers like California. In this case, by courting the film industry. So what, you say? Sure, jobs are jobs and everyone needs the escape provided by a movie every now and then. But unfortunately, the only escape with this feel-good endeavor is its disconnect from reality.
The Michigan Film Incentive is a state economic development program whereby state government offers large tax credits and outright cash subsidies to filmmakers who make some portion of their films here. The program rebates up to 42 percent of a filmmaker’s Michigan expenses. The amount that exceeds the filmmaker’s state business tax liability is reimbursed by a check from the Treasury and signed by John Q. Taxpayer.
Now guess who has directly profited from this? You guessed it, Michael Moore. That raving anti-capitalist who went rabid against big business in his last film apparently has no problem sticking his hands into the pockets of the taxpayers on Main Street to pad his personal coffers. Just like those big, evil firms on Wall Street.
He is a current member of the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council, a state organ created to advise the Michigan Film Office, which is responsible for approving applications for Michigan’s film incentive program.
There’s a whole lot of other “perceptions of impropriety”, aka old boys’ network and cronyism at work here as well, which in the end makes it little more than yet another Democratic grab at the wallets of the very people they claim they are trying to help while the only ones making any real money are they and their buddies.
Recently, Michigan Film Office Director Janet Lockwood was given a role in a movie — “Wild Michigan” — that had been approved by her office for subsidies. Lockwood blithely dismissed conflict of interest questions from my colleague, Kathy Hoekstra*, by arguing that the she had not been paid. But as an actress she was in fact paid; paid with the opportunity to appear on the Silver Screen – an honor for which many actors would themselves pay.
Former state Rep. Bill Huizenga (now a congressional candidate) helped shepherd the Michigan film incentive program to passage in the Legislature. He did so while sitting on the Board of Compass Film Academy, a Grand Rapids-based film school. Lockwood called Huizenga — who was apparently given the moniker “Hollywood Huizenga” for helping muscle the film incentive through the Legislature — “our hero.”
But, but, but it can’t be all bad because regular people in Michigan worked on these films, right? Sure. Yet what they received in pay was merely another insidious transfer of wealth:
Michigan hiked taxes $1.4 billion just months before creating the film program to redistribute a portion of it to lucky filmmakers. At best, this creates a jobs wash, not new economic growth.
We’ve said before that Michael Moore is an insufferable hypocrite who should be shipped off to someplace like Venezuela. But the truth is that he and his kind continue to be enabled by the compassionate Democrats running the state of Michigan.
* no relation to Michigan State representative Pete.