Many thanks to Melyssa for her invitation to me to contribute to Hoosiers For Fair Taxation while she takes a breather.
HFFT is one of the blogs I have long linked to on my own blog, Kole Hard Facts of Life, because I value the perspective that so long as we have to have taxation as a necessary evil, for the funding of government (another necessary evil), it should at least be fair, and above all, taxation should be prioritized such that the proper functions of government are funded first, and everything else last and least, or in a better world, not at all.
Not a single day goes by that I see a news account of government funding something that, in a better world, would be funded exclusively by private funds. Today's example come from an Indy Star report:
Hundreds of Hoosiers braved patchy rain and cool winds swirling around Monument Circle at noon Monday to rally in support of the arts.
Known as "Indy Culture Matters," the rally was organized by the Indianapolis Consortium of Arts Administrators to raise the public profile of cultural institutions and their value, particularly amid the economic crisis.
John Pickett, executive director of the Indianapolis Opera and vice president of the consortium, acknowledged last week that in addition to simply raising awareness, the rally stemmed from frustration at the level of financial support given to the arts in Indianapolis.
This year, for instance, the Arts Council of Indianapolis received $1,870,000 from the city budget and the Capital Improvement Board in public funding for the arts -- a decrease of $673,500 from 2008.
Pickett is frustrated? Nearly $1.9 million received for something that is nothing like a proper function of government? And, at a time of economic downturn? I believe the phrase you're looking for is 'Thank You".
The more I learn about the Capital Improvement Board, the more I have come to believe it should be eliminated entirely. What about art is a 'capital improvement'? I think the time has come not merely for the CIB to explain itself on selected spending misadventures, but to justify and explain its' very existence.
Art is a wonderful thing. It's also a personal thing, a personal expression of the individual artists, whether painters, sculptors, stage performers or musicians. It is absolutely wrong to take the money from the community as a whole to fund the personal expressions of select artists of political favor. You see, a great deal of art is supported very fabulously commercially. But the various arts that line up at the public trough tend to be the favorites of yesteryear, lacking the ability to attract enough willing support, i.e.: customers, so they turn to political favor instead, where they need not be popular to support themselves, just popular enough to sway a weak-kneed politican or two.
Mr. Pickett, you have raised my awareness. Now I wish you less public money for 2010 than 2009, and in a better world, none. Please consider approaching those who claim to value the various arts, and ask them for their personal expression of support, in the form of a donation, leaving the pockets of those who don't unpicked.