Don’t worry: I do not propose to give you a complete list. Otherwise we’d be here all day. But really, if government spending is a problem (and it is), why not shut down some agencies that spend money needlessly? A friend suggested we start with the two National Endowments, the one for the Arts (so-called) and the one for the Humanities. An excellent idea, and one which I would heartily support.
Objection one: “Haven’t they done good work?” Occasionally. Not very often, really. I thought (and said publicly) that Dana Gioia did excellent work at the NEA. But usually both endowments, and especially the arts endowment, have simply certified and promulgated the establishment, i.e., the left liberal, agenda emanating from Washington. Besides, why should the federal government get involved with the arts and the humanities anyway? That is the critical question. The answer is: it shouldn’t. Would you like a museum/opera house/concert hall in your town? Save up the money and go ahead and build it. Why should the taxpayers foot the bill?
Objection two: Europe! The state pays for culture in Europe. Aren’t Americans being philistines by not involving the state in culture?
Oh? Have you taken a look a Europe and its state-supported culture recently? Really, this objection is almost too embarrassing to answer. What makes you think that state involvement of culture leads to anything other than the growth of the state and its insinuation into areas of life they have no business being in? Take your time.
Objection three: “But the budgets of those agencies are so small, less than $200 million each. Nancy Pelosi eats that for lunch.” True, but you have to start somewhere. A journey of a thousand miles, etc., etc. Besides, getting rid of the Endowments would send a salutary, if largely symbolic, message to deans, arts administrators, and other parasitic busybodies. It would also get the government out of the embarrassing business of supporting “cutting-edge,” i.e., meretricious, art and “research.” Yes, on balance, I think dispensing with the Endowments would be a good thing all around.