Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Rob Schneider — the Hobby Lobby of Hollywood

Actor Rob Schneider claims he hasn't made a movie in California in seven years because of the state's restrictive tax code and that he moved his vitamin business out of state due to "over-regulation." Both of which he attributes to Democrats.

I'm going to avoid the low-hanging fruit here, tempting as it may be. Rob had a good run in the 1990s, or maybe I was just his target audience then. I don't know. It doesn't matter.

Two things stick out to me anytime I hear his argument:

1) None of the rich people who complain about high taxation and regulation ever seem particularly tempted to give it all up. Occasionally they'll whine about how lucky poor people have it; but at the end of the day, all the red tape in the world isn't going to keep them from their capitalistic pursuits. I can't think of a time it ever has. It's hot air. 

I don't see Schneider quitting acting any more than I see the owner of Hobby Lobby shutting down all his stores because he objects to having his insurance plan cover the Pill. They know making a point isn't worth giving up the meal ticket.

2) Modeling our system after their desires fosters a race to the bottom. Much of the attraction Louisiana has for film companies lies in tax breaks and lax labor laws. Last December, I worked three long days on a film for which I never got paid. When I notified the state Department of Labor, they threw their hands up, saying many others had complained. Oh, OK. (It happened again this summer, but by then I was too busy moving west to bother.)

Whenever I hear a conservative insist that labor laws and other regulations scare away employers, I think of those experiences. Texas Gov. Rick Perry's ongoing commerce campaign, which Schneider cites in the link, essentially comes down to: "You can do whatever you want here." Most such campaigns are the same way. It's utopia for businesses, dystopia for workers. It's no accident that the most "business-friendly" states tend to have high poverty rates and low environmental scores.

Also: 

3) Just like with Louisiana State Sen. Elbert Guillory, I don't think Schneider really has had a political epiphany. He knows it's a chance to get on the airwaves. The closest I've ever heard Rob get to politics before was when he said that (theoretically?) he'd never work with Mel Gibson. So I'll reserve my inspiration for when Janeane Garofalo converts. That'll mean something. 

Oh, and two more things:

4) California, by all accounts I've read not written by right-wingers, is climbing back into solvency during the most recent tenure of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. As a now-frequent visitor to the Golden State, I also like other things about it, like its laws against trans fats in foods, dedication to environmental issues and decent infrastructure. Having arrived in Nevada from a Republican paradise where roads are crumbling, concern for health and the environment is for nerds and you often have to fight to recover your slender paychecks, I appreciate those touches. If it causes the mega-rich a slight inconvenience, eh. They aren't the only ones, but they can handle it the most painlessly.

5) Vitamins aren't the most regulated product to begin with, so something must be particularly sketchy if Schneider didn't want to comply with what regulations there were. That seems less like a hunt for freedom than a shelter search. Seems that California's main crime these days is that it isn't stooping to the level of so many other states in that regard. It's actually aspiring to be a decent place to live, rather than simply a place to do business.

A race to the top is refreshing after all this time. We can do eet!

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