Everyone who is involved with Duck Dynasty, the popular A&E show that features rednecks engaging in the fascinating act of blowing on duck calls and doing other rednecky things to the enchantment of millions of ‘Murikans, is rolling in the bucks.
The 20 cast members make a total of $200,000 per show, or $10,000 each. Not bad money for wearing camouflage and playing in the mud, huh?
Well, as it turns out, much of that money comes from the state of Louisiana, as in taxpayer money. How much? Try $70,000 per show.
That’s right… the “happy happy happy” folks are laughing all the way to the bank and depositing YOUR money into THEIR fattening bank accounts – if you happen to be a resident of Louisiana, anyway. 35% of their weekly income comes from Louisiana taxpayers, thanks to an incentive program enacted in 2002 designed to entice film producers to make movies in the state. So many of them have taken advantage of the generosity handed out by the state that Louisiana is now dubbed, “Hollywood South”.
Hey, never mind taking care of the poor people in the state, right? After all, Louisiana has the second highest poverty rate of any state in the union.
But, you ask, is the incentive program making the state any money? After all, sometimes you have to spend money up front in order to make money later. That’s the nature of most any venture out there, whether done publicly or privately.
The answer to that question is a resounding “no”. Louisiana recently conducted a study which, according to Inquisitr, found only 15 cents of economic benefit for every dollar spent by state taxpayers are used to prop up Hollywood productions, including reality shows such as Duck Dynasty.
Furthermore, the incentive program has a history of bribery and corruption in Louisiana.
Offering these incentives amounts to pouring money into a black hole, only in the case of Duck Dynasty, they are making out like bandits. Not only are the cast members making a third of their incomes from taxpayer money, they are also making money off of the publicity they have received.
Take their duck calls, for example, the product that made the Robertson clan millionaires in the first place. As Eonline reports:
Last year (2012), they sold 60,000 of their Duck Commander callers. This year, they are projected to sell over 750,000, and at an average price of $59.72 (they range from $19.95 to $179.95), they are set to make—wait for it—$44,790,000 on their duck calls in 2013!
Not to mention that Phil and Willie Robertson have each written books that so far has amounted to tens of millions of dollars in gross sales. And you can’t venture into a Wal-mart these days without seeing Duck Dynasty apparel and accessories – either for sale, or being worn by the customers.
We’re not begrudging the Duck Dynasty empire for making money. It’s the free enterprise system, after all. But there is something grossly wrong with already well-paid cast members and filmmakers profiting in part off of the taxpayer’s backs, and it is a microcosm of what is wrong with our capitalist economic system. Because of incentives like this, the wealthy continue to become wealthier, while many of the rest of us struggle just to put food on the table and pay for housing.
All during a time when one political party – the Republicans, of course – is trying to do everything they can to stop taxpayer money from going towards helping the increasing number of poor people in our country.
The Duck Dynasty cast owes much of their success to the taxpayers of Louisiana, who unwittingly have helped to fund their show and fatten their wallets. We’re just not too sure that Louisiana residents would be too thrilled if they were aware that they are losing big-time economically in this shell game.
Watch the chief economist for the state of Louisiana discuss the money drain that the incentive program for film and TV productions has been.