Nicholas Kristof penned this opinion piece in today’s New York Times. ‘Puter agrees with every single item Mr. Kristof espouses with the exception of the underlying point of the entire piece.
Yes, humanities and arts are vitally important to a cohesive and vibrant civilization. No, government does not have to fund humanities and arts for them to exist.
In fact, there are good arguments to be made that government involvement invariably politicizes and poisons the arts.
‘Puter loves the humanities. He attended (and was graduated from, so shut it Mo and Neva) a small, Catholic liberal arts college in New England and received an A.B. in Philosophy. ‘Puter was chairman of the college’s student theater organization for two years, and chairman of the college choir for a year. ‘Puter met Mrs. ‘Puter in the college choir. His work/study job was as lead shop carpenter in the theater department’s scene shop. ‘Puter’s two kids play the following instruments among them: percussion, saxophone, clarinet, flute, and piano.
Music and arts have been vital to ‘Puter’s life and have touched nearly every aspect of his development. ‘Puter has the greatest respect for arts, music, humanities, and for those who produce such works for us. Our lives – all our lives – would be poorer without them.
That said, there is absolutely no reason on God’s green Earth that government needs to fund arts or artists. Mr. Kristof’s argument is “the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities don’t cost that much, so you should be required to keep funding something I enjoy and think is important.”
If we accept Mr. Kristof’s premise (government must fund that which individuals enjoy and are plausibly good for everyone whether or not they use the product produced), then government must fund shooting ranges, abortion clinics, conservative Christian churches, and militant atheist organizations like the ACLU.*
Artists will produce art even if government isn’t paying them. Musicians will keep playing regardless of whether they’re getting paid. The difference is these folks may have to get jobs they don’t particularly enjoy to fund that which they do. You know, like everyone else in America.
The argument that quality would fall off is unavailing. The Medicis and the pope funded some of the greatest artists the world has known. Government didn’t pay the Gershwins or Dr. Seuss or Bob Dylan or Emily Dickinson to produce their art. Artists gonna art, no matter how hard you try to stop them.
And without government involvement, we are likely to see a more robust, less politically dictated art. Artists always seek to please their patrons, even (especially) when government is their patron.
Just as Democrats would rightly object if government funded giant obelisks celebrating Trump’s great victories won in making America great again, Republicans would rightly object if public school teachers were paid to write songs praising Obama’s obvious exceptionalism and awesomeosity.**
Let’s do partially as Mr. Kristof suggests and financially support the arts we love. But let’s also do as ‘Puter suggests and pay for the funding out of our own pockets, cutting out the middlemen and government bureaucrats who skim money off the top.
The arts will survive without the government if the public truly values them, as ‘Puter does.
* ‘Puter’s not kidding about the ACLU. The ACLU totally is totally is not full of radical atheist asshats who hate God and guns.
** <’Puter hums “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Barack Hussein Obama” to himself until he achieves enlightenment and enters Democrat nirvana, which is basically a never-ending three-way with an oiled up Barney Frank and Maxine Waters in a bathtub filled with Froot Loops and milk and Michelle Obama watches pruriently and the entire thing is live streamed on PBS nationwide>