View from the fray

My 60-cents worth

Imagine my surprise. My experience at a local theater was marred recently by some lowest common denominator lobbying—pre-film ads preaching the evils of a proposed new entertainment tax. Write your legislator now, the theater ads urged, tell ’em you like movies and you don’t want no stinkin’ entertainment tax.

I’d hit the theater near Park Lane Mall for a little evening entertainment. Three friends and I had decided to see The Life of David Gale before it closed. It’d be good to get out, get away. To be distracted by lofty death penalty debates.

But no. Instead, I fumed for the first 15 minutes of the movie.

I haven’t been back to the theaters since, but I’m told things are getting worse. Ushers are passing out postcards to filmgoers who want to tell legislators to vote no on this new tax. Holy Spielberg! What kind of greedy industry uses its own clout to coerce hapless citizens into protesting ways of generating needed state revenues? (Rhetorical question.)

Just to jog your memories, the entertainment tax—along with a handful of sin taxes and a gross receipts tax for larger businesses who’ve not historically contributed much to the state coffers—was proposed by Gov. Guinn, not in order to make our schools, our law enforcement agencies and our social services any better. No. The state has to raise money just to keep things going at their standard crappy funding levels.

OK. I concede that the current rendition of the entertainment tax, with its exceptions for golfers and skiers and kayakers, is unfair. Wealthier recreaters shouldn’t be exempt from doling out 7.3 percent on paddle rentals and green fees—even if they are tourists enjoying the scenery. If they can afford $100 to putter around with a small white ball on a large, groomed water-sucking stretch of green stuff, they can pitch in an extra $7.30 toward the state’s health insurance for kids who will never play golf in their lives.

Back to the theaters and anti-tax postcards. It’s not like the film industry has to pay this tax. Moviegoers will foot the big, fat bill—something like 60 cents per movie. I’m sure that 60 cents isn’t going to keep me from seeing the latest, greatest offering out of Hollywood. Sixty cents? That’s not even a decent tip for the mocha maker at Java Jungle. But these dimes are expected to add up to more than $80 million a year for the state.

Sure, the National Association of Theater Owners of California/Nevada has a right to campaign against a tax they feel might hurt business. But (and here I climb onto my rectangular parcel of Tide), as a citizen of Nevada, I have responsibilities, too. As long as I care about the quality of state-funded services, I’m boycotting local theaters.

If you’re an educator, a social worker, an advocate for the disabled or any other citizen who’d like to see the quality of life for many Nevadans not devolve further into the hellish depths, I invite you to join me. Local movies joints, consider this your notice.

In other news, as I write this, war is near. We pray for peace.