Sunday, January 29, 2017

What It Means to Defund the NEA

Let's start with a fact.

If you're not sure what a fact is, here's the definition, according to Merriam Webster:
-Noun. A piece of information presented as having objective reality.

The fact is that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an organization that funds art and art education in America, receives approximately $146 million dollars a year in federal funds. This might seem like a large number, but it is actually only 0.012% of federal spending. Wanna see where I got these FACTS from? You can see them here.

In contrast, in 2015, the U.S. Federal Government spent $598.5 billion (which happens to be 54% of the budget) on the military. You can see those facts here, or in the chart below.

Pie chart on discretionary spending from media.nationalpriorities.org
If our President, who constantly brags of his prowess in business dealings, was interested in balancing the budget, he would cut the bulge of the military's slice to even out the filling a bit. I am not suggesting we don't need the military, I am just suggesting that our spending is disproportionate. (I also notice that the portion of Veterans' Benefits is disgustingly small considering how much value we appear to place on military protection of our country).

So, let's make it clear, folks, that when the President says he wants to cut the NEA out of the budget he has an ulterior motive, unless I am to believe that the President does not know how to read pie charts (a possibility, considering that he does not read books or believe in science. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt).

Art is, after all, a way to spread ideas, a way to communicate on a nonverbal level, a way to express thoughts, and, in some cases, a way to criticize.

No matter what he says, the President is not streamlining government or the budget. He is aiming to streamline voices, communication, expression, and ideas. Much like the book-burning practices of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany, our President wants to limit ideas as a way to reduce criticism, critiques, or questions about his crony government. The NEA isn't his enemy. The thoughts of the people are.

So, unless you are someone who, like our President, has a severe aversion to ideas and facts, I would advise you to arm yourself with a sense of fear, urgency, and despair over this proposed budget cut. Defunding the NEA won't derail the organization entirely, nor would it disable any individual from making art. That's not the point. The point is, our President sees no room for culture in his country, because culture threatens to dismantle the most powerful weapon he has at his disposal, the exact opposite of facts and ideas, the thing that helped him get elected in the first place: ignorance.

If you're not sure what that is, I doubt you really care about any of this, anyways.

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