Captain Jack meets the broken window theory
Most of us today are familiar with Bastiat’s broken window theory, where those observing the replacement of a broken pane of glass tend to look on the bright side by thinking of how good it is for the glazier to get the trade. Bastiat points out though that this ignores the fact that the window owner is left with no gain for his expense, and the cobbler, tailor, or perhaps bookseller who might have benefitted from the trade instead, miss out.
Keynesian economists though, love broken windows and never cease telling us at the advent of any disaster, just how good all of the resultant repair work will be for the economy. The Kiwis were said to be the luckiest people in the world after the Christchurch earthquakes:
Our Treasurer Joe Hockey though, sees no reason to hang around waiting for something bad to happen in order to strip the economy of funds to repair damage. Joe is ahead of the game to the point where he supports event and project lobby groups in spending on what aint broke. Krugman is so yesterday.
Instead of spending money on devastation, he wants to piss it away on something fun, like making movies with similar results:
MOVIE giant Disney is being offered a near $22 million treasure chest to bring Johnny Depp’s billion dollar Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to the Gold Coast.
The Bulletin understands high-level discussions have taken place between US film bosses, Screen Queensland and the Federal Government to bring the lucrative franchise to Warner Bros’ Village Roadshow studios at Oxenford.
The sweetener being dangled in front of producers of the film, tentatively titled Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, is a one-off payment of $21.6 million.
The money, originally offered by the Gillard Government to Disney for director David Fincher’s stalled 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea reboot, is at the centre of talks, with hopes the funds can be transferred to the Pirates production, which is expected to begin shooting early next year. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has also met with Disney.
A film industry insider told the Bulletin discussions had progressed well and that the project was desperately needed for the city’s stalling film industry. “We really need this movie for the Gold Coast and we are hoping things come together,” the source said. …
… Gold Coast Tourism boss Martin Winter said securing the filming of a major blockbuster would pay dividends for the city. “The most immediate opportunity would be with the set itself becoming an attraction for people to visit, similar to the ship construction on The Spit for the Chronicles of Narnia film,” he said.
“However, the long-term benefit to the local economy would clearly be the boost to employment numbers and if we reinforce the industry then it can only be a great thing for the Gold Coast.” …
Effectively, there is little difference between the two ideas; the first being that the diversion of funds to disaster reparations is an economic boon, and the second being that a similar diversion towards an unnecessary project does the same.
Both have visible results to show for the expenditure. In both cases the lost opportunities of non-government activities in the private sector with the money used for those purposes cannot be assessed.
Industry and regional lobbyists can point to the relatively small amount per capita to be used for this project and the benefits that will accrue to little battlers like Disney and Warner Bros’ Village Roadshow, along with extra wealth for the glitter strip. The things that might have happened instead elsewhere are invisible, because they didn’t occur.
A better solution
The real injustice of this proposal is that money is taken from taxpayers across the country and funneled into the Gold Coast, only benefitting that area. If making the movie there really needs to happen here, a scheme that will encourage this yet benefit the wider population would be fairer.
A little imagination, (or in this case whimsy) offers a far more equitable solution to the problem of getting it made here while still spreading the benefit to the wider community.
An approach could be made to Disney offering to use $21.6 million for the following benefits to Australian viewers to encourage them to watch it if it is made here:
- First; Every ticket sold will be rewarded by the government with a free large bucket of popcorn, soft drink, and packet of Jaffa’s, (Do they still roll those down the aisle?) to have while watching the show, and:
- Second; Every rental or download will come with a government gift certificate for a family sized McHappy meal, (or the equivalent from Hungry Jacks, KFC, Subway, etc) along with fries, large coke, and whatever.
While this could cop some criticism from the AMA and associated health Nazis, all of the proposed benefits to the Coast would still come to fruition, and fast food joints across the nation would benefit, creating additional regional employment and generating untold wealth everywhere.
Truly, this represents a win win scenario.