The New York Times wonders why Broadway’s theater owners and producers “fought vigorously and successfully … to block a new state tax on theater tickets … [y]et at the same time, they were quietly imposing a new fee of their own on patrons of Broadway.”

As the paper reports, Broadway’s trade association has started levying a $1 fee on discount tickets, and will put the $1 million a year from the fee into a marketing and education fund.

“The imposition of the fee … stands in a sharp contrast to the group’s denunciation of … Gov. David A. Paterson’s proposed theater tickets tax, which would have added about $5 to $10 to Broadway tickets,” the article observes.

The paper seems to wonder about this odd inconsistency. But the article, in fact, compares apples and oranges.

First, $1 is different than $10.

Second, Broadway’s businesspeople think that the industry will receive benefits from the marketing and education effort that will outweigh the risk that the $1 fee will drive customers away.

If they’re wrong, Broadway executives will either change their minds, or they’ll lose business. But this business decision is perfectly reasonable.

The tax that Albany proposed, on the other hand, would have provided no benefits to theaters or to theatergoers. Rather, it would have allowed Albany to continue to delay the inevitable — real reforms to state medical and education spending — for even longer than it is.

Yes, there is a difference between spending your own money yourself — and forking it all over to Albany to spend it for you.

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