Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Lesson Plans

Re: Mike and the NEA

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Roseau (mikelr)
Sun, 25 Oct 1998 16:14:52 -0500

This argument always comes down to a fundimental difference in outlook; you
feel its perfectly all right to take money that isn't yours and give it to
people you feel are more deserving. I trust the judgment of the market
(however imperfect that judgment may be).

In the twentieth century we have seen the spectacular failure of socialism
to deliver on its promises, yet those of you with the redistributionist
itch are never disuaded by the lessons of history. True, capitalism has its
problems, but I'll take it over the nanny state any day. In fact, artists
more than any other group should be wary of state encroachments.

>I have no idea what "relentlessly hierarchical" means in the context of
>art. Maybe you can explain it to me.

OK. In every venue some example of art is deemed superior to another.
Gallery owners judge one artist better than another and then carry the
artist they think is better. If self expression were the only criteria
there would be no special distinction for those who have accomplished great

Every year the New York Society of Illustrators has a big show in which
illustration of distinction is displayed. There are over 40,000 entries
from which a few hundred are selected. This process is repeated in endless
iteration throughout the art world.

> The issue of inherent inequality of ability is
>irrelevent to this discussion. I didn't argue that people of different
>abilities should be treated equally. I didn't read anyone else posting such an
>argument. Perhaps you are confusing listservs. Your argument that equal
>opportunity can't be achieved by robbing one group to reward another is
>interesting in light of this countries history. Ours is a history of 400 years
>of robbing the labor of one group to reward another. And, by the way, the
>system of American slavery wasn't created by some "socialists" but by the
>emerging capitalist class. So, apparently "socialists" (although I'm unclear
>how support for the NEA got turned into a debate over socialism. I didn't
>think we were still arguing about socialism anymore, but ok) The remnants of
>that history of slavery still exits.

You are confused on a number of levels and my altruism urges me to help
extract you from your befuddlement, but the task would be long and hard. I
will say this, however; during the 400 years our country has been
oppressing the masses we have also managed to create more wealth for a
wider range of people than any other system in history. I have lived in
countries when the distributionist ethos has been in full flower and I
assure you that they were much worse off than we. Ans please, racial
problem exist independently of economic systems. My stay in Yugoslavia in
the seventies convinced me of that.

>"Dude?" What are you? 12?

Sorry - just young at heart. Art still matters enough to me to defend it
from the pervicious encroachments of the nanny state.

>Anyway, you want to make a case against public support for the arts based on
>some personal annecdotes about some slacker friends of yours who lived off
>grant money. Gee! I'm shocked, simply shocked to hear about it!

Again, the anecdotes are only a rhetorical device - the nub of the matter
is that no artist deserves confiscated funds. My slacker friends were not
exceptions. In fact, they are absolutely typical of those who rely on
grants to survive.

>"All of the remedies..." How about the laws against legal racial segregation?

You are confused...again. Laws against racial segregation had economic
ramifications, but they were not necessarily derived from economic
arguments. Had we given blacks financial assistance and raised their
economic condition to parity with that of whites, discrimination would
still have been ethically wrong. One could argue that many Jewish cultures
in Europe were economic equals to the dominant culture, but the Jews were
discriminated against.

>Or the voting rights acts.
>Or Title IX laws. Or women's rights to sufferage.
>Or the end of child labor. Or.....oh you get the point. Your harping on little
>stories of corruption in low places such as above is just more of your
>rhetoric. In the end, kind of meaningless.

Ditto for all of these. Unfortunately, your inclinations are not
meaningless - you intend to take my money and redistribute it because you
think you know better. That is hubris.

>See, no one argued against the market.

You want to give money to artists who the market has rejected. That is
arguing against the market.

>You find straw men much easier to knock
>down then real ones.

Actually, your arguments, such that they are, are much easier to knock down
than straw men. Holding your breath and kicking your feet about the
unfairness of the world is not exactly the same thing as advancing an

>The NEA and other forms of public support for
>the arts are part of market forces. It produces product all the time. Look at
>the way the public-funded Public Theater in NY produces Broadway product
>rather successfully.

It doesn't need the support - Broadway, with all of it's public support is
in worse shape artistically than it's been in fifty years. I would let it
die and see what rises from th ashes. If the theater fades because of a
lack of public support it shouldn't have successed, anyway. I should also
add that the theater in New York was hurt more by unions (the darlings of
the left) than anything else. Just try to put on a play in New York without
following pages of onerous union rules.

>Fred (the Red),
>Chicago (hey, it ain't Minnesota, but its a lot closer to reality)

So close, yet so far away.


Mike Reed