Rule Five Killing Big Bird Friday

From one of our favorite libertarian scribes, John Stossel, comes this piece on the Trump Administration’s promise to cut a particular piece of fat from the Imperial budget.   Excerpt:

Next week, Donald Trump releases his new budget. It’s expected to cut spending on things like the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Good!

Government has no business funding art. When politicians decide which ideas deserve a boost, art is debased. When they use your money to shape the culture, they shape it in ways that make culture friendlier to government.

As The Federalist’s Elizabeth Harrington points out, the National Endowment for the Arts doesn’t give grants to sculpture honoring the Second Amendment or exhibitions on the benefits of traditional marriage. They fund a play about “lesbian activists who oppose gun ownership” and “art installations about climate change.”

The grant-making establishment is proudly leftist. A Trump administration won’t change that. During the Bush II years, lefty causes got funding, but I can’t find any project with a conservative agenda.

It’s not just the politics that are wrong. Government arts funding doesn’t even go to the needy. Arts grants tend to go to people who got prior arts grants.

But here’s the real money quote:

The New York Times ran the headline: “Why Art Matters.” Of course it matters. But “art” is different from “government-funded art.”

New York Magazine ran a photo of Big Bird, or rather a protester dressed as Big Bird, wearing a sign saying “Keep your mitts off me!” What New York doesn’t say is that the picture is three years old, and Big Bird’s employer, “Sesame Street,” no longer gets government funds.

We confronted the article writer, Eric Levitz. He said, “Big Bird has long functioned as a symbol of public broadcasting … Still, considering ‘Sesame Street’s’ switch to HBO, I concede that some could have been misled.”

You bet.

Big Bird doesn’t need government help. “Sesame Street” is so rich that it paid one of its performers more than $800,000.

I can’t add much to Mr. Stossel’s words, but I will offer some of Robert Heinlein’s words:  “A government-subsidized artist is an incompetent whore.”  I couldn’t agree more.

There are a lot of artists in the Animal family.  The Old Man is a Midwestern artist of note, and has been since the late Sixties.  He still paints today and just recently put out a book of paintings of Iowa wildflowers and birds.  For many years he had a reserved spot in the Iowa Capitol where one of his paintings hung.  One of my daughters is a freelance graphic artist and designer, and another is in a reputable art school studying to be a commercial graphic artist.

None of them have ever taken a public dime for their art, and none ever will.

All of Mr. Stossel’s arguments are great, but I’ll counter with a simpler one;  nowhere in the Constitution is the Imperial government allowed to disperse taxpayer funds to prop up artists who can’t make money by selling their work in the open market.  The Tenth Amendment prohibits the Imperial government from doing anything that the Constitution does not specifically allow.

That, True Believers, should be the end of the discussion.