《经济学人》:电影业补贴,单边裁军
日期:2011-06-17 10:56

(单词翻译:单击)

Film-industry subsidies
电影业补贴

Unilateral disarmament
单边裁军

After a decade of escalation, a stupid trend may have peaked
历经十年增长,愚蠢的跟风计划可能巅峰已过

Jun 9th 2011 | LOS ANGELES | from the print edition

Lights, cameras, subsidies, action!LOTS of states would love to be California and have their own little Hollywood. Film crews would then come to town and spend money in hair salons and hotels, and local politicians could pose with film stars. So why not call it “economic development” to justify the huge tax credits that lure film producers? As of last year, more than 40 states had such incentives, costing them a record $1.4 billion.

灯光,摄像,补贴,开始!许多州都希望像加利福尼亚一样,能拥有一个自己的好莱坞,哪怕很小。摄制组人员到时来到小城,美发厅、宾馆收入倍增,本地政界人士可与电影明星一起合影留念。那么为什么不称之为“经济发展”以证明吸引电影制片商的巨额税收减免是值得的?去年开始,40多个州都出台了发展电影业的刺激措施,成本达到了破纪录的14亿美元。

Even California itself plays the game, believing that it has to defend itself against the poachers. In 2003, when only a handful of states (principally Louisiana and New Mexico) offered incentives, California made two-thirds of America’s big-studio films. Now it makes far fewer than half. Film LA, an organisation that co-ordinates permits for film shoots in Los Angeles, says that without California’s own tax credit, “2010 would have been the worst year” since the mid-1990s for filming in Hollywood. As its marketing blog gibes: “It is extraordinarily unlikely that the 137 productions that filmed in Michigan since 2007 chose to shoot there for creative reasons, a favourable climate or a deep and talented film-crew base.”

加州也参与到这场游戏之中,他们必须要保住自己的优势,以免受到后来者的冲击。2003年,只有很少几个州(主要有路易斯安娜和新墨西哥)出台鼓励政策,当时2/3的主要美国电影由加州生产。现在这个比例远远低于1/2。Film LA是洛杉矶的电影摄制协调授权机构,他们表示,加州如果没有税收优惠政策,2010年的好莱坞影业将成为1990年代中期以来最糟的一年,正如它们营销博客的一篇文章所说:“ 2007年以来有137部电影选择在密执根州拍摄,因为那里富有创意、环境宜人、人才辈出,这种说法绝无可能。”

All this costs money, which legislators volunteer on behalf of taxpayers. Many tax credits (a percentage of a film crew’s local expenditures) exceed the filmmaker’s total tax liability to that state. The credits have even become an industry unto themselves: brokers slice them into tranches and trade them. In Iowa filmmakers were selling their credits until that state shut its programme in 2009. Last month an Iowa judge sentenced a producer to ten years in prison for fiddling credits.

所有这一切都要花钱,代表纳税人利益的立法者愿意为此花钱。给予电影制片商的许多税收优惠(电影剧组人员在当地消费额的一个百分比)超过了他们在该州总体的税收负担。税收优惠甚至形成了一个产业,经纪人把它分成不同的部分,并对它们进行经营。在爱荷华州,电影制片人一直对外出售其税收优惠,直到2009年该州停止了该项计划。上个月,爱荷华的一个制片人因骗取税收优惠被法官判处10年监禁。

Incentives do not have to involve tax credits. Some states simplify the paperwork by just giving out cash (calling it “rebates” or “grants”). Others exempt film-makers from sales or hotel taxes or give them other perks.

刺激措施并不一定就是税收优惠。有些州简化了需要报送的资料文件,直接派发现金(称之为“返利”或“政府补偿”)。还有些州免收他们的销售税或酒店税,或者给予其他的实惠。

All this is silly. First, as Joseph Henchman at the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan think-tank, puts it, even when a state succeeds in luring film crews, they rarely boost the economy or tax revenues enough to justify the costs of the incentives. Film companies usually import their staff (stars, stuntmen, etc) and export them again when the shoot is over. The local jobs they create (hairdressers, sound technicians, pizza deliverers) are mostly temporary.

所有这些做法都非常愚蠢。首先,正如一家无党派背景的智库“税收基金会”的约瑟夫??汉契曼指出的那样,一个州即便成功地吸引到了摄制人员,也很少能获得收入或税收的大幅增长,以补偿激励措施造成的损失。影业公司通常临时引进所需人员(明星、替身等),但一旦影片拍摄结束,这些人又会转移到其他地方。他们在本地创造的就业机会(如发型师、音响师、快餐外送)大多都是暂时性的。

Second, since virtually all states are at it, the programmes largely cancel out one another; no state gets a lasting advantage. The craze resembles a beggar-thy-neighbour trade war (with mutually destructive tariffs) or the federal tax code with its loopholes for every lobby and thus higher rates for all. In the language of cold-war nukes, it would be mutually assured destruction (MAD). The only winner is the film industry. In essence, a rich bloke in a Brentwood villa gets money from a poor taxpayer in West Virginia.

第二,因为几乎所有的州都有这样的优惠政策,其效果相互大幅消解,没有哪个州能够长久受益。这种狂热的做法恰似一个损人利己的贸易战(相互之间使用具有破坏性的关税),或者说象是每一个游说议员面对着一个漏洞百出的联邦税收法典,因此所有人来说税率只会更高。这种情况可套用冷战核竞赛时代的一句话,那就是“确保相互毁灭”。惟一的赢家就是电影业。居住在纽约布伦特伍德别墅的富翁其实赚取的是西弗吉尼亚贫穷纳税人的钱。

Fortunately, this has begun sinking in. Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey and Washington have recently ended, suspended or shrunk their programmes. Many others, struggling with budget deficits, are considering doing the same, investing the money in something permanent or even leaving it to taxpayers. “2010 will likely stand as the peak year,” thinks Mr Henchman.

所幸的是,这种局面正在发生改变。在亚利桑那、阿肯色、爱达荷、堪萨斯、缅因、新泽西以及华盛顿等州,为吸引电影业而实行的减税计划,有的已经终止,有的暂停,还有的州将计划进行了缩减。正在遭受预算赤字的困扰的其他许多州,也打算改变这项规划,将资金投入到那些永久性的项目中去,或者干脆让利于纳税人。汉契曼先生认为“过去的2010年很可能是这种行为的最高峰”。

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重点单词
  • temporaryadj. 暂时的,临时的 n. 临时工
  • involvevt. 包含,使陷入,使忙于,使卷入,牵涉
  • trendn. 趋势,倾向,方位 vi. 倾向,转向
  • justifyvt. 替 ... 辩护,证明 ... 正当 vi. 调
  • permanentadj. 永久的,持久的 n. 烫发
  • creditn. 信用,荣誉,贷款,学分,赞扬,赊欠,贷方 (复)c
  • boostvt. 推进,提高,增加 n. 推进,增加 v.
  • unlikelyadj. 不太可能的
  • assuredadj. 确实的,保障的,有自信的 动词assure的过
  • essencen. 本质,精髓,要素,香精