Friday, February 1, 2013

I give you the worst argument in the history of arguments

"But...OTHER States are doing it!!!"

This is the argument being used by arts advocates in asking for an 8 times funding increase for their Texas Commission.  That's right, an increase of funding by $21 Million dollars, all to "stay in the game" one supposes in case Texas somehow drop off the "world class" map when it comes to having dirty toilet paper attached to a canvas described as a hard look at contemporary society and how it treats trees. Or, better yet, murals.  Because what we need are more publicly commissioned murals right?  Hopefully though we can avoid murals with overtly anti-American sentiments.

Above and beyond all of this is the silly argument that "other states are doing it".  Yes, they probably are, and other states are, on average, worse off financially than Texas in most every measurable dynamic. This isn't to suggest that art is worthless, far from it.  I enjoy a good painting, statue, fresco as much as the next average citizen.  It does have a worth, but not to such a value that it should be placed up on the priority list with education, health care, state parks and water supply. It's dandy-fine should Oklahoma want to pay to commission for itself some Native American art to adorn the walls of the latest, and greatest, Indian casino.  Or if Arkansas wants to commission Ode to the corn-cob pipe.  That's them, this is us.

Currently Texas has around Eight Billion Dollars (give or take) in it and lawmakers and special interests are clamoring to drain it as fast as they can.  While I think it would be a fair idea to take out a couple of Billion to pay for water and infrastructure, I can't see even removing one penny for the arts. Just painting a scene of Houston's moisture-related gridlock and titling it "Rainy Day" isn't enough.

The other argument made by the arts inclined is that they have always been publicly funded.  While this is true it also ignores the fact that it was primarily (in the days of the greats) funded by Royal decree.  Back then, if the King needed some money, he trumped up a false charge against one of the lesser nobility, took their lands, bent their daughter over the family crest and gave her the what for in front of her soon-to-be-executed parents.  That's a slightly different revenue model than what exists currently.

Times change, and so do funding priorities. If we can get to a point where the roads are sufficient and paved, where education reform ends the constant carping for more and more money to achieve diminishing results, and when we all have enough water then we can talk about increasing the funding for the arts.

Until then?  I don't care what the other states are doing, Texas should lead in the forum of ideas not follow.

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