No More Welfare for the "Arts!"
January 25, 2011
Governor Nikki Haley, in her recent "State of the State" address, called for ending tax payer funding of the South Carolina Arts Commission. It's well past time that we did just that.
The reason given is that we can no longer afford such expenditures. Government funding in the past has been justified on the specious grounds of making art available to everyone when in reality it is just another tax payer subsidy of the elites and their lifestyles.
Resistance to government welfare for the "arts," however, should be based on moral principle rather than fiscal limitations. It is simply not the proper role of government to pick and choose who gets tax payer money and who does not. And, before you even ask, yes, %$#@ it! That goes for corporate welfare and all the rest as well!
Equality under the law means everyone is treated equally by the government. The current tax payer funded favor factory is the same fulcrum of power used by monarchists, socialists, communists, fascists, and every other big government, centrally controlled despotism ever created on earth. Such a transference of wealth is not morally justified no matter what great works of art their generosity with other people's money may help to create.
Instead of artists and art lovers getting down on their knees to grovel and beg for money at the feet of members of the current oligarchy, why don't they form a private association of people who are truly concerned with the arts and keep our involuntary tax dollars out of it? Such a voluntary association would be, I'd hope, independent of the contaminating influences of government bureaucracies and elitist favoritism. Love of the arts is, after all, no excuse to pick people's pockets.
If, as has been claimed, there are jobs created by government spending on the arts, then, from the moral perspective, we've obviously got a bad case of fascism that needs to be cut out of the body politic as if it were cancer--never mind the fact that such vampiric spending to create jobs cannot, by definition, be self-sustaining. Let's leave such government CONTROL in the dustbin of history where it belongs along with the government funded propaganda of many failed socialist and monarchist empires. Our art should be better than that.
Art exists independently of massive taxpayer funded programs. It's part of the human condition. No matter what, artistic people create art. To throw money from the treasury at it as if we lived in the times of kings supporting favored artists is barbaric and elitist.
The best motivator for art is making a living at it by producing and selling one's work rather than living off the government teat. And guess what! It's what real working people do with their own labor. Do artists and their institutions consider themselves superior to regular working people? Well, generally speaking, OF COURSE they do!
Government welfare for artists, however, is no more appealing to the average working person than is welfare to corporations or individuals. It's time for it to end.