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Hollywood favors high tax, 'gender pay equity' -- just not in Hollywood

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Opinion,Movies,Larry Elder,Columnists,Taxes,Gender Issues,Income Inequality,Oscars

Sunday's Academy Awards event showcased Hollywood's finest. Beautiful people in beautiful clothes saying lovely things about their industry -- a politically "progressive" business that gives nearly all of its political contributions to Democrats.

Democrats, of course, purport to believe that "the rich" do not pay their "fair share" in taxes. Democrats also believe in gender equality, that women should receive "equal pay" for "equal work."

Mogul Harvey Weinstein is rich, the kind of rich President Obama refers to when he insists that "millionaires and billionaires" fail to pay their fair share in taxes. Weinstein, the producer of hit films like "Pulp Fiction," "Kill Bill" and "Rambo," clocks in with an estimated net worth of $150 million. He says he'd gladly pay more in taxes: "I'm happy to make an investment in America. I don't look at it as tax, evil! I say, OK, if I have to pay a little bit more, we'll get it back. ... But it's not like paying more, that you don't get it back. You get a better United States. ... I'm here to volunteer on the taxes."

Yet, Hollywood lobbies lawmakers to lower its own taxes. Pointing to a worrisome new study called "A Hollywood Exit," California lawmakers seek even larger tax credits and other incentives -- on top of the ones California already offers -- to halt so called "runaway productions." The Hollywood Reporter said, "The report lays out eight specific recommendations that it says can help stem the outflow of these jobs even in the face of 43 states and many foreign countries -- especially Canada -- offering tax incentives that often are greater and broader than the $100 million a year that California offers."

Thus, the increase in taxes that Weinstein is "happy" to pay is vastly exceeded by the increase in his bottom line, given the various tax breaks his industry lobbies for and receives.

On "gender equality," Obama in his last State of the Union speech, said, "Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job."

How does this apply to Hollywood?

Forbes compared the money paid to 2013's top 10 highest-paid male actors versus the top 10 highest-paid female performers. Not even close. The top 10 actresses made a total of $181 million. Their top 10 male counterparts made $465 million, which means the ladies made 39 percent of what the men raked in. "The top-earning actress, Angelina Jolie," wrote the Washington Examiner, "earned $33 million, roughly the same amount as the two lowest-ranked men."

Where are the pitchforks? Why aren't actresses filing a class action lawsuit? After all, Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for a plaintiff to claim wage discrimination. Where's the National Organization for Women?

If 77 cents on the dollar compared to men is considered unfair, exploitative and unacceptable, 39 percent is practically involuntary servitude! But we see no Hollywood Boulevard street demonstration. We see "no display of unity" in front of Hollywood's famous Chinese Theatre, with hundreds of ticked-off actresses, linked arm-in-arm, led by Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep and Whoopi Goldberg singing, "We shall overcome." Nothing. No picketing. Not even a flyer or two.

But the silence can be explained.

Even actors clueless about economics 101 know that ticket sales determine an actor's value. Big-budget, testosterone-driven action films are a staple of the youth crowd that advertisers covet. They mostly star men. Cate Blanchett, in accepting her award for best actress, took a swipe at the industry's alleged sexism: "To those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are 'niche' experiences -- they are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people!" This is the round world where female actors pull in less revenue than men. These non-exploitative reasons account for the pay discrepancy, just as non-exploitative factors explain the notorious 77 percent "gap."

One more thing about Hollywood and the Democrats. The California governor is a Democrat. Democrats control both the state Senate and Assembly. No Republican holds a statewide office. Democrats have a "supermajority" in both state legislatures, outnumbering Republicans by about 3 to 1. They have given us a state with the highest state personal incomes taxes, the highest state sales tax and the highest state gasoline tax. Chief Executive magazine, citing high taxes and regulation, has given California the lowest ranking in its CEO opinion survey in business friendliness of all 50 states for nine years in a row.

But now the same Hollywood crowd that votes in the rich-don't-pay-their-fair-share party wants protection from the taxes that they want imposed on others. And the nominees for the biggest Hollywood leftwing hypocrites are ...

LARRY ELDER, a Washington Examiner columnist, is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate.
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