Philistine… Or Constitutionalist?

by Don Boudreaux on January 28, 2011

in Civil Society, Current Affairs, Other People's Money

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Peter Samton says that GOP efforts to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, expose that party’s “ignorance in matters cultural” (Letters, Jan. 28).

Suppose a radical-right Congress manages to create a National Endowment for Religions as well as a Corporation for Public Worship.  Democrats would certainly – and rightly – work to eliminate such programs on grounds that these are dangerous intrusions by government into matters that government has no business meddling in, as well as an unconstitutional use of taxpayer funds.  And surely Democrats would vigorously – and, again, rightly – point out that their opposition to these government programs does not imply that Democrats oppose religion or that they are “ignorant in matters spiritual.”

Why are GOP efforts to get government out of the arts any different?  To object to Uncle Sam subsidizing the arts – particularly when there’s no constitutional provision authorizing such funding – no more implies that one is a knuckle-dragging oaf than would efforts to get government out of religion imply that one is a militant atheist intent on denying everyone access to spiritual texts and worship services.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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