Paul Jacob

They want the status quo.

It’s the same all over. When times are good, they want more. When cuts become necessary, they’ll demand “only” the status quo.

But why not stick to their alleged guns and demand a coherent policy, anyway?

Well, it could be asking for too much. Too much of democracy. Economists far more skillful than I with algebra and calculus have demonstrated that voting procedures in a representative democracy can never yield consistent policy. It’s always going to flail around.

That’s one reason why we shouldn’t put everything up for a vote. Indeed, in America it used to be said, commonly, that the purpose of government was to protect our rights, not give us a myriad other goodies. Limited to a fairly narrow task, our elected representatives wouldn’t find themselves in an incoherent realm where “anything goes.”

Export the policy to Britain. And re-import back here.

For the best arts policy is no arts policy as such. Government defends our rights to life and liberty, and we negotiate how best to promote some luxuries (that seem so necessary, some of the time — I’m on board) without having to demand that other people spend more of their money on the arts in ways that I like (quite coherently, I dare say).

In the realm of the market, I’ll no doubt support Mr. Stewart in the future, should he make a decent movie again. And in the realm of community action, I’ll watch plays put on by kids and high-schoolers, and maybe even plunk down some of my own money for them.

And that’s the way it should be.

Is it “coherent”?

It’s sensible. It’s justifiable. And it’s not as incoherent as the vast array of subsidies and programs that Stewart and his friends think the ne plus ultra of British (or any other) culture.

A free culture is possible.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.