Clint Eastwood is perhaps the icon of macho film stars, and certainly one I would avoid duelling. He is a self-declared libertarian, stating in USA Today, “I like the libertarian view, which is to leave everyone alone.” He made his name through hard work and talent, going from low budgets to fame and a career as an Academy-Award-winning director. However, I must respectfully enter a standoff over his recent appeals to save the UK Film Council, which represent a distinctly inconsistent and socialist position.
The UKFC contributes funds to two types of films: those that are commercially viable and those that are not. The former, films like Harry Potter, don’t need government support. The latter lack the public appeal to make them commercially viable for investors. It takes extreme arrogance to ignore the preferences of the public and spend their money regardless on something they have not chosen. Furthermore, the subsidy of non-commercial “artsy” films represents a regressive transfer to the wealthy “cultured” class and contains the patronising intellectual supposition that UKFC knows which films are best for us.
For all public money that is spent on the UKFC there is an opportunity cost. The money could have instead gone to help save soldiers’ lives, treat cancer patients, and/or to develop primary schools. Furthermore, government has left us with a terrible burden of waste and debt. So where should government focus its limited resources?
In the UKFC’s defence, many note that “for every pound invested [by UKFC], the country gets £5 back.” However, this ignores private investment or crowding out. Much of the funding went to commercially viable films; hence, the positive return is no surprise and the support unnecessary. Supporters of the UKFC should put their own money on the line if they want to support British films, rather than taking from the public pot and imposing their choices.