The Robertson family has made a fortune selling duck calls to hunters. For years, the clean-shaven clan ran their business honestly out of the public eye. But then they decided to grow beards so they could have their own reality television program. Duck Dynasty has been airing on A&E ever since and the family has only embarrassed themselves repeatedly for everyone to see.
Last year, family patriarch Phil Robertson revealed himself to be a homophobe and racist during an interviewthat appeared in GQ Magazine. He compared homosexuality to bestiality and condemned gay people to hell. Then he insulted African-Americans by claiming that black people were happier during the ‚Äúpre-entitlement, pre-welfare‚ÄĚ era of Jim Crow. The comments stirred national outrage and A&E suspended him from the show. But that didn‚Äôt last long as conservatives protested and the network lost its spine. Then video surfaced of Robertson calling on men to marry teen girls so that they could put their too young wives in their place before they become women who can think for themselves.
Well, guess what? It turns out Louisiana taxpayers are paying for this. Literally.
Even though the Robertson family preaches about how evil government welfare is, they seem to be happy getting welfare themselves, receiving $70,000 per episode of Duck Dynasty from the GOP-dominated Louisiana state government. Louisiana offers tax breaks for film projects in the state. Duck Dynasty is filmed in Louisiana so the Robertson family benefits from this as well. To date, Duck Dynasty has suckled on the government teat for a whopping total of $4.5 million over 64 episodes.
‚ÄúThe Duck Dynasty producers, as well as the Robertson family members who star in the show, soak up hundreds of thousands of dollars in government handouts from the state of Louisiana every year. One industry insider estimates that the Duck Dynasty cast, which is paid $200,000 per week to appear on the popular reality show, receives government benefits of $70,000 for every episode of the A&E cable show from the state, even though Louisiana recently slashed funding for health care programs and pension programs for public employees such as police, teachers, and firefighters‚Ä¶ While advocates of film subsidy programs say that they lure big-time production to states that offer the money ‚ÄĒ 43 states now offer some version of a film subsidy program ‚ÄĒ economists have said that the programs cost states millions and produce very little economic benefit in return.‚ÄĚ
While Louisiana citizens languish in a state that has denied them increased access to healthcare and has rigged the judicial system in favor of Big Oil no matter how disastrous a spill is, millions of dollars that could have been spent by the state to improve their lives is being pocketed by the stars of Duck Dynasty. This is welfare for rich people, pure and simple. The Robertson family certainly does not need this money. They don‚Äôt even need the $200,000 per episode salary that they are being paid by A&E. They‚Äôre independently wealthy yet they gleefully take taxpayer dollars while crusading against welfare for the poor, the sick, and the hungry. On top of that, Louisiana is also the 17th most indebted state in the country with a debt of over $18 billion and growing. The state has also been ravaged by hurricanes, floods, and oil spills over the last decade. So for the state government to take money and services away from the people and hand it to a bunch of rich bigoted rednecks is absolutely immoral. And for the anti-welfare Robertson family to willingly take such money is the exact definition of hypocrisy.
Aided by Republicans, the Duck Dynasty cast is stealing money from those who really need it. It‚Äôs one thing to grant tax incentives to films and television shows as long as the overall state economy benefits. But giving money to a reality TV show about millionaires doesn‚Äôt help anyone. It just makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.