The recent move of GMU’s Department of Economics into our new home in Mason Hall has prompted me to explore boxes and drawers of stuff that I’d ignored for years. Among the items that I found is this cartoon. (Click to enlarge) (Warning: Adult language) I believe that my grad-school officemate at Auburn, Mark Thornton, first drew my attention – more than 30 years ago – to this profound cartoon.
I once thought that this cartoon is perfect. But, pondering it anew today, I believe that it – while still excellent – is slightly flawed. The flaw is that the ‘artist’ depicted in the cartoon is not quite realistic. In reality, such an ‘artist’ doesn’t politely ask for more funding; instead, the ‘artist’ joins a political coalition that hires a gunman to demand more funding.
(To anticipate a likely objection: government funding of the arts is emphatically not necessary for soaring and beautiful and excellent art. Quite the opposite. See my colleague Tyler Cowen’s sublime 1998 book, In Praise of Commercial Culture , and also his 2002 book, Creative Destruction. )