Why film incentives don’t work

As recently as 2009, 44 U.S. states were providing incentives for film production. Only six states weren’t. Now up to 16 U.S. states are not doing film incentives.

Recent research published by Prof. Michael Thom of the University of Southern California found no impact of motion picture incentive programs’ [MPIs] on their states’ economies or industries.

Thom discussed several factors why film incentives programs failed to register any economic impact for their states:

  • They are highly targeted economic development programs that primarily benefit content producers and existing industry workers (and I note in Agenda 2014 that film production companies benefit even if they don’t produce here because our incentives “bid” pressures other states to increase theirs, and vice-versa)

  • Many have little accountability

  • They show disregard for clear market signals as they pertain to permanent relocation of film productions

  • They result from policymakers moved to act because other states are doing it and because they “also suffer from an ‘action bias’ wherein they feel compelled to act regardless of circumstances” (e.g., the “leap before you look” mentality of appearing to provide leadership when uncertainty calls for circumspection)

  • They encourage rent-seeking behavior, included “an extortive political economy” (as Thom puts it, “Economic development history is replete with policymakers’ acquiescence to relocation threats lest subsidy demands are met” — which happened with “House of Cards” in Maryland and is also at work, of course, with some HB2 activism)

  • They rely on “flawed cost-benefit or economic impact analyses written by special interest groups or the entertainment industry” — specifically mentioning “IMPLAN-style analyses

  • Subsidization may “encourage inefficiency” in the target industry, therefore not benefitting its development over the long term (q.v., The Economist’s concern about renewable energy subsidies’s effect on the solar industry)

Clegg on police shootings in Charlotte

Roger Clegg, writing at the National Review’s The Corner, on the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and five others by police in Charlotte this year:

There will always be police shootings, and it is a statistical certainty that some of them will involve African Americans, and the law of averages says some of those will involve police who are not African Americans, and inevitably sometimes the circumstances will make it easy to second guess the decisions made by the police.

So it’s illogical to think, “Gee, another black guy shot by a white cop — maybe there really is a problem here.” It’s wrong to jump to conclusions even in a particular case before all the facts are known. And it’s ludicrous to pounce on each such shooting as proving anything about the police generally.

Nuclear energy could play key future role for N.C., U.S.

Changing technology could point the way toward an important role for nuclear power in the future for North Carolina and the United States. The head of UNC’s Center for Sustainable Energy, Environment, and Economic Development offered that assessment during a presentation to the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society.

David McNelis included his remarks about the future of nuclear energy during a larger discussion about the history and challenges linked to nuclear power. In the video clip below, he discusses nuclear energy’s minimal carbon footprint and its large role in North Carolina’s existing energy picture.

4:40 p.m. update: Click play below to watch the full presentation.

Congress Wants To Bring More Consumerism To Health Care

Americans aren’t thrilled with the fact that health care costs continue to eat away at their overall take home pay. For those who have insurance through their jobs, deductibles have risen by an average 12 percent in 2016, or four times more than premium increases. For those who don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance, out of pocket spending amounts to $6,000 for individual policyholders and upwards of $13,000 for families before their insurance company picks up the tab.

While it’s problematic that deductibles are rising six times faster than wages, paying out of pocket for health care isn’t a bad thing. Yet society has grown accustomed to being blinded from the actual cost of care – which makes insurance companies, not patients, the true customers of health care. Insurance carriers are the ones that are buying services from hospitals, physicians, medical equipment providers, and other professionals in the field.

Sure, patients who have insurance may be subject to co-pays and co-insurance. However, the lack of consumerism and the largess of government price controls over health care services and health insurance is what keep high health care costs alive and well.

Some members of Congress are trying to make health care more like other sectors of the economy; that is, having patients (consumers) control how they spend their health care dollars – even for big ticket items. Consumer power drives market competition. It spurs innovation, and it pushes businesses to appeal to those shopping for their goods and services.

So, how can there be more of this in health care? Watch the Capitol Hill briefing video on a bill recently introduced by Senator Jeff Flake (R-Az) and Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA) that would expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

Clickbait website ranks NC 44th for teachers

Wallethub released their “2016’s Best & Worst States for Teachers” ranking and North Carolina jumped six spots to 44th in the nation.

The site’s ranking methodology never made any sense to me, so I refuse to link to the page.

Google it, if you are so inclined, or just wait for the politicos to begin dissecting the meaningless results.

Panthers should have in bed?

With protesters and police in riot gear outside Bank of America Stadium, the Carolina Panthers laid an egg against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Covering the game for the Greensboro News & Record, columnist Ed Hardin goes on–and on—and on— about how the game should never have been played:

The sanctimonious NFL should’ve taken a step back and honored the wishes of the city leaders who had the guts to stand up and tell presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to please stay away. That the two were even considering coming Sunday showed the lack of understanding of what this city has gone through this week.

The leaders didn’t have to guts or the leverage to keep the NFL out.

The cost of playing this game Sunday was immeasurable in man-hours from our police, fire and emergency workers. It appeared most of the N.C. Highway Patrol was on duty.

From rooftops around the city and on balconies and through dark windows, people watched through binoculars for signs of trouble.

And in the middle of all that, more than 73,000 people were invited to drive downtown and risk everything for a damn football game.
Really? Didn’t someone see this was an inappropriate time to play? Couldn’t someone come up with a way to move this game away from these troubled streets or simply reschedule it or, God forbid, just cancel it?

Maybe I’m cynical—regular readers know Hardin’s not exactly my favorite sports columnist as it is—but why do I have the feeling that had the Panthers won, the spin would have been the exact opposite—that Charlotte needed the game to provide an escape from the harsh realities the city’s experienced over the past week?

Prof with stellar election prediction record sees Trump triumph

Ariel Zilber reports for the Daily Mail on the latest projections from an American academic with a great track record in predicting presidential election results. The results will please backers of Donald Trump.

An American professor who has devised a system that has helped him correctly predict the last eight US presidential elections says that Donald Trump will emerge victorious on November 8.

Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, says that he judges candidates by certain criteria that he calls ‘the 13 keys to the White House.’

The professor told The Washington Post that the key are simple true-false statements built on the premise that presidential elections are a referendum on the performance of the incumbent in the White House and the party that he represents. …

… With the election less than two months away, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is slightly ahead in the latest polls.

Still, Lichtman says that Trump has the upper hand.

‘The keys are 13 true/false questions, where an answer of “true” always favors the reelection of the party holding the White House, in this case the Democrats,’ he says.

‘And the keys are phrased to reflect the basic theory that elections are primarily judgments on the performance of the party holding the White House.’

‘And if six or more of the 13 keys are false – that is, they go against the party in power – they lose. If fewer than six are false, the party in power gets four more years.’

The professor says that despite the fact that President Barack Obama will leave office with relatively high popularity numbers, that will not necessarily help Clinton since she lacks his charisma.

Another factor working against Clinton is the fact that the Democrats suffered significant losses during the most recent midterm elections.

The importance of presidential debates

Andrew Malcolm writes in The Sacramento Bee about the role of presidential debates in the election campaign.

American politics were forever changed with the first nationally televised presidential debate, exactly 56 years ago. …

As if to underscore debates’ enduring if dubious import in the country’s modern politics, this year’s pair of presidential wannabes will clash on Long Island for 90 minutes on the anniversary.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each have much to prove – and disprove – during what was, in effect, a forerunner of reality TV. Initially, not much was expected of Trump, a rookie politician who turned that disadvantage around in the year of the outsider to defeat 16 far more experienced, qualified Republican Party opponents.

Trump arguably has the easier task, to appear well-behaved, informed, disciplined and, most importantly, presidential, as he did during a meeting with Mexico’s president early this month. The 70-year-old Trump needs to erase or at least dilute stark memories of outrageous, even crude, onstage comments and behavior last year.

No doubt Clinton, who has been practicing since midsummer, will attempt to bait him into missteps, as she promised during her July convention acceptance speech. …

… TV debates – with their 90-second opening statements, 30-second rebuttals and no aides at hand – have absolutely nothing to do with how a president operates.

Can you remember anything from past debates? Chances are, you recall one-liners, scripted and memorized in advance to make a candidate look quick.

And here’s a news flash to remember as you hear the winner and loser hailed and criticized in the aftermath: Debate winners are not necessarily election winners. Mitt Romney cleaned Obama’s clock in the Denver debate four years ago. As usual, the poll bounce was short-lived.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan blew all four tires in his first debate with Walter Mondale, appearing tired and all of his 73 years. He bounced back two weeks later with the disarming “quip” that he wouldn’t hold against Mondale the ex-vice president’s inexperience and youth; Fritz was 56 then.

Years later, Mondale told me that although he laughed on camera, he knew right then that he had lost. Indeed, he did. Reagan captured nearly 59 percent of the popular vote and the most electoral votes in history, 525 of 538. Mondale won but one state, Minnesota, and that by only 3,671 votes.