Friday, January 26, 2007

Separation of Film and State

http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070126/NEWS/701260363

Here is the pattern that gets repeated thousands of times. The state interferes in some area of the economy and when a controversy erupts or the program inevitably fails the government calls for more regulation rather than removal of the original government interference. (Then, more regulation leads to more controversies and disasters and even further calls for regulation. All the while, the intellectuals cynically blame the free market, "greedy profiteers", "evil" businessmen, "narrow minded" public, etc. as the state erects a never ending series of byzantine rules and regulations and calls for more taxpayer funding. Then the persons affected hire lobbyists who pay the politicians to try and game the rule making in their favor. Since the persons with the most money usually win, efforts made to "reform" the system consist of direct and indirect government reprisals aimed at throttling the rich who allegedly are the source of all the corruption. Then comes more payoffs to stop the reprisals ad infinitum.)

In other words, the arguments made allegedly justifying government intervention coupled with the economic reality that intervention has to fail means logically that government intervention necessarily begets more intervention.

Linked above is a classic example. The state of North Carolina decided to use taxpayer money to provide "incentives" to film studios to produce movies in the state by rebating 15% of costs to the studios. In other words, the state forcibly expropriated money from individuals that have nothing to do with the film (other than having lived in rough geographical proximity to its production) and transfered it to the filmmakers. Then, when the filmmaker produced a film that was "controversial" the state demanded the right to begin "approving" film scripts citing the usage of state money as necessitating state control. Of course what is never questioned is whether the government should be funding filmmakers or any private business in the first place.

Other historical examples of this pattern include public education, medicare and medicaid, state insurance regulations, social security, bank and S&L regulation, farm subsidies and price controls, the national endowment for the arts, sports stadium funding, just to name a few.

What do all of these have in common? Note that in every case the argument is always made that the "public interest" is somehow at stake. Of course, in the sense that mathematically every action in the universe somehow affects every other aspect of the universe this is true. If a new business employs people and makes useful products then it certainly does benefit the public. So should the "public" therefore be coerced into funding every new business startup or any expansion of current businesses? This argument can be used to justify infinite government intrusion into our lives and property.

Afterall, if the government pays for your health care shouldn' t the government regulate what you eat or make sure you don't go outside without a jacket when its cold to "control" costs?

If the government funds education shouldn't the state determine education standards?

If the government insures the banks shouldn't the government regulate bank activity?

If the government is funding films shouldn't the "public" approve of the script?

There is no such thing as the "public interest". The public is a collection of individuals with different opinions, tastes, and appetites for risk. The coercion of some for the benefit of others is immoral and necessarily leads to conflict between warring interest groups fighting for control of the means to define and implement their version of the "public interest."

To paraphrase Ayn Rand, the state needs to be constitutionally separate from economics in the same way and for the same reason as it is separate from the Church.

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