Tax the rich to fund cinemas

To the editor:

While I don’t currently live in the Adirondack region, I’ve followed with interest the financial struggle of local theaters to convert to digital projection. Since I have friends and relatives who live in the area, at the very least I plan to visit often, and who knows, I might raise my future kids there. So it concerns me that by the end of the year we may no longer have the option of seeing movies on the big screen.

Maybe future generations will regard the following statement as mere nostalgia for a passing era, but I think there’s something really magical about going to the cinema. Maybe it’s the chitchat with a first date while waiting in line for a packed showing on a warm summer night. Maybe it’s the smell of popcorn. Heck – maybe it’s the middle schoolers in the back row making way too much noise. I just know there’s something.

So it frustrates me that perhaps the most obvious and fair solution to the digital conversion crisis has not been raised. Why not make the movie theaters public? I’m not talking about bailouts. Public funds should never go to private businesses. That’s our money, and it shouldn’t be used to help enrich business owners. What I’m saying is, why not let the people own and democratically manage the cinemas?

We have public libraries, public schools and public fire departments. Without these, most folks would have very limited – if any – access to books, education and emergency services. And so it seems that without public cinemas, Adirondack residents soon won’t have access to the moviegoing experience.

I know what you’re thinking. How would we pay for it? Taxes are already too high on working and middle-class people. The answer is simple. Tax the rich. Make them pay for all of it.

In Lake Placid, at least, we have more than our fair share of the obscenely wealthy. We see their summer mansions on Mirror Lake, their fleet of luxury cars in the driveway and their vacation boats at the marina. There’s a huge amount of money in the area. It’s just unevenly distributed.

I can see the defenders of the rich rushing to rebut. They whine, “What right do working people have to take what the wealthy have earned?” This question assumes that the rich have indeed rightfully “earned” their fortunes. Most people, especially those on the lowest tiers of the corporate system, know in their bones this is not the case. The working class and the middle class do all of society’s labor. Meanwhile, wealthy employers, who contribute nothing of value, siphon off all of the profits. In short, the rich are parasites. In taxing the wealthy, average folks should not think of it as “taking” from the rich but rather as reclaiming what has been stolen from them.

So indeed, let’s save our cinemas. Make them public. Allow free admissions and concessions to all. Raise theater employees’ wages considerably. And force the rich to pay for all of it. For more common-sense solutions that benefit working people, please visit

Jon Hochschartner

Waltham, Mass.