The Baltimore Sun

State film subsidies create jobs, revenue

Last week, I traveled to Annapolis to support the proposal for a tax rebate to film companies that shoot films in the Maryland area. I was joined at the press conference on this issue by business and political leaders from all over the state, none of whom has anything to gain from increased film production except inasmuch as it helps builds Maryland's economy.

Is this proposal worthy of a debate? I would think so.

But Jay Hancock reduces it to sophomoric satire, comparing tax rebates to a scam in Mel Brooks' The Producers: "Entertainment moguls don't need to con little old ladies to finance productions anymore" ("Lights, camera ... what?" Jan. 28).

But Mr. Hancock's suggestion that this proposal represents Hollywood lining the pockets of producers at the expense of Maryland taxpayers is not only wrongheaded but naive.

Mr. Hancock provides a few statistics to support his case, but he avoids a recent study of New York state film subsidies by the accounting firm of Ernest and Young.

This study found that as a result of the credits, New York would keep or create about 19,500 jobs and generate $404 million in tax revenues at a cost of $215 million for the tax credits.

Jobs and revenue are at stake here. This issue is something that should be discussed.

Mr. Hancock's smug attitude is hardly an answer and is not informative to his readers.

Barry Levinson, New York

The writer is a movie and television producer.

Failed financiers lack all sense of shame

The verb "criticize" was too weak to characterize President Barack Obama's excoriation of Wall Street executives ("Obama criticizes Wall Street bonuses," Jan. 30). His rhetoric was stronger, and echoes the feelings of the rest of us who are watching savings erode and jobs disappear.

His actual words about the bonuses were "shameful" and "outrageous."

With taxpayers being asked to bail out financial institutions, I deplore the idea of taxpayers funding $50 million corporate jets, $87,000 area rugs and $1 million office renovations.

These folks have systematically ruined the global economy - and not only have they no shame, they have no common sense.

History has lessons to teach, and these folks should be wary.

Rosalind Ellis, Baltimore

Make Wall Street pay back bonuses

Many financial institutions apparently have not been chastened by the financial and economic meltdown they are responsible for ("Obama criticizes Wall Street bonuses," Jan. 30).

The $18 billion in bonuses given out by some of the same Wall Street firms that have asked for and been granted public funds is not only "shameful," as President Barack Obama said in the Oval Office on Thursday, it is outrageous.

The country is mired in the worst economic conditions since the depression of the 1930s, and Wall Street is acting like Marie Antoinette.

Every elected representative in Congress should have his or her ears ringing with constituents demanding that the institutions that received public bailout money send back to the Treasury the amount they paid in bonuses.

Dave Lefcourt, Ellicott City

Big new trash cans a waste of city funds

I recycle plastic, glass and paper, my vegetable scraps go into a compost heap and my meat scrapes are fed to a pet, so my trash for pick-up usually fits in a grocery store-sized bag.

But now the city is proposing to give me a 64-gallon trash can, which would take me about three months to fill and which I would have to wheel across my carpet through my rowhouse and store in my postage stamp-sized backyard garden ("Trash day might get an overhaul," Jan. 28).

I suspect my neighbors and I would just leave the large trash cans out on our front sidewalks, which would make the street look like it was trash day every day of the week.

Or I might give the new can to my sister so that it could sit in her garage holding garden tools, right beside the large trash can the city gave me several years ago.

Maybe the millions the city may spend on the trash cans could be used instead to hire more sanitation inspectors who could fine people who do not handle trash properly, thus employing more people, cleaning up the city and bringing money into the city through sanitation fines.

Judy Aleksalza, Baltimore

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