Monday, March 07, 2011

Should movies be subsidized?

Michael Kinsley says no. Interfluidity says yes.

Interfluidity is quite right that subsidies will increase the supply of movies, and seems to consider that a good thing.

I have to differ. The motion picture industry is a huge rent seeking contest that is socially inefficient, just like professional sports. A large number of people dedicate themselves to trying to get a desirable position and the vast majority of them will (a) fail, and (b) be quite unprepared to do something else.

Increasing the number of movies, just like expanding a professional sports league will most likely draw many more people into the rent seeking contest than it will provide positions for, thus making matters worse.

Los Angeles and New York are already teeming with waitress / cab-driver / hobo "actors" and "screenwriters" who are smart, talented individuals, well prepared for jobs they'll never get and generating large social losses by not having gotten a more general preparation and more productive jobs. Do we really want to encourage these kinds of wasteful outcomes in New Mexico and Michigan as well?

Occupations that generate rent seeking contests should be taxed, not subsidized!

We should be nudging people OUT not in to the motion picture industry.

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