The Economist Debates Arts Funding
Post #1570 • August 29, 2012, 6:24 PM • 5 Comments
The Economist is hosting a week-long debate on the question, Should governments fund the arts? For the motion is Alan Davey, Chief executive of the Arts Council England. Against the motion is Pete Spence of the Adam Smith Institute. Guests chime in throughout the week. Today's guest is Nick Gillespie, Editor-in-chief of Reason Magazine, who notes,
Governments everywhere are dead broke. Not just a little light on cash until the next payday, but up to their eyeballs in hock for generations to come. It's bad enough that future generations of Americans will be paying off today's tab that we've run up by building bridges to nowhere, waging the war on drugs and bombing Afghan villages into the Stone Age. Should they also have to pay for cowboy poetry and mime shows that they hopefully will never have to actually attend? It's well past time to ratchet down government spending on everything that is not absolutely essential to the political functioning of a country.
This relates to a discussion on the new artCrit as to whether it's time for the NEA to go.
The NEA doesn't spend much money by US government standards, but it appears to have decayed into a harmful institution with little likelihood of making a positive difference. In short, it is amazingly effective at maintaining the status quo with very few resources...
Personally, I am with Spence and Gillespie. And yet when Mitt Romney proposes to defund the NEA, as he said in an interview excerpted by Politico:
“[F]irst there are programs I would eliminate. Obamacare being one of them but also various subsidy programs—the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.
I consider the nation's drug policy. Not that Romney needs to go easy on them, but rather, if we are going to criminalize drugs (we shouldn't), we ought to criminalize them according to toxicity. And if we're going to cut spending (we should), we ought to do it in order of percentage of the budget. No one is talking seriously about cutting spending unless he is talking about Medicare and related programs, Social Security, various safety net programs, defense, and interest on federal debt in that order. Social Security spends the entire FY2011 NEA budget every twenty hours. Cutting defense by that amount would represent a reduction of .02%. By all means, cut the NEA 100%, right after you cut defense 10%, which is five hundred NEAs. Otherwise you're wasting our time.