Satire: Why EB-5 Investors Should Become Backers of Broadway Shows

By David North on January 16, 2016

Here's an idea: Would-be immigrant investors in the embattled EB-5 program should take on new roles, as angels backing Broadway shows. Though no one has used this approach to my knowledge, the suggestion fits in neatly with the current operations of the program.

Under my scheme the immigrant investors would put up the usual half-million dollars each (thus netting them and their families a full set of green cards). The money would be placed in a specially created corporation that would invest in forthcoming Broadway productions, but it would be structured in such a way so that the other angels (the resident ones) would get the bulk of the profits should any of the shows succeed.

How does this resemble the current EB-5 program? Many ways:

Losses are likely. For every hit like "A Chorus Line" or "Oklahoma" there are scores of failures, which means that the alien investors/angels would lose money, just as many, if not most, of them do in the current EB-5 program. Whereas now investors are almost guaranteed that they will get no more than nominal interest on their investments, which will be returned as much as a dozen years later, quicker, sharper losses will occur in the EB-5/Broadway Program.

Profits, if any, are inequitably distributed. Though this is never mentioned by the promoters of current EB-5 projects, their developments (mostly urban real estate) are routinely structured so that if there are any profits, they will be inequitably distributed between the citizen middlemen and the alien investors, with the former getting most of the gravy. This grand tradition will be carried out in the new program as well.

No money, none, would be invested in depressed or rural areas. Although it is clear from legislative history that EB-5 moneys were supposed to go to depressed rural and urban areas, this happens only rarely under the current program. The EB-5 Broadway Program will guarantee that absolutely no money will be spent in such areas; all will be spent in the urban glitz of New York show business.

The best part: All the funds would go to New York Democrats. Whereas it was the Republican House of Representatives and the GOP Senate that extended EB-5 in the omnibus spending bill, despite the fact that most of the funds routinely go to Democratic urban areas, the EB-5/Broadway Program is guaranteed to spend all of its money, not just most, on left-leaning, urban Democrats.

Everyone knows that people in show business are out-and-out liberals, from the actors to the directors to the Upper West Side angels. Some also realize that the unions on Broadway, though small, are stronger than they are in any other business.

If the EB-5 program were extended to show business, in short, it would simply follow its current traditions, but would do so in a more dramatic way.