There is a virtually unlimited number of wasteful programs that are being subsidized by the stimulus bill, but there's one in particular that deserves extra attention because it is emblematic of so much of what's wrong with our government today,
The massive economic stimulus bill moving through Congress is being watched closely by arts groups across the country, including the Massachusetts Cultural Council. If the House version becomes law, the National Endowment for the Arts would get $50 million - and the council's federal funding would soar by nearly 50 percent.
While the NEA money is a minuscule portion of the $819 billion House bill, it has become a lightning rod for some critics, who question whether the dollars for the arts will create many jobs - and who see the money as a symbol of House Democrats trying to lard up the plan with spending wish lists that have been pent up for years.
The criticism has reached such a crescendo that some arts advocates are concerned that the push for the $50 million could backfire, reigniting a debate over the value of taxpayers funding everything from "poetry out loud" events to community theater.
...Such criticism has revived memories of how the GOP-led House in 1997 voted to eliminate the NEA. The agency survived the controversy after a compromise was reached to slash its funding. The agency has made a comeback in recent years and the budget has gradually increased. The proposed additional $50 million - on top of $122 million already set aside in this year's budget for grants - would put the NEA in its strongest financial condition in years.
Folks, we are over 10 trillion dollars in debt. That comes out to almost $35,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. So, if you're married and have a couple of kids, you're responsible for almost $140,000 of our national debt. Do you have $140,000 to spare?
Additionally, we are on track to run TRILLION DOLLAR deficits for the foreseeable future. This stimulus package alone is now over 900 billion dollars, and the interest on it over the next decade will cost us another 300 billion dollars -- if we're lucky.
It's going to get increasingly difficult and expensive to finance our national debt and the amount of interest we owe is going to take up an increasingly large portion of our yearly budget as a nation.
Moreover, it's not only entirely possible that we will have a financial collapse in this country akin to the one that broke the Soviet Union in the next 20-30 years, it's likely that it is going to occur unless we make DRAMATIC changes in the way our country is operating.
.....Which brings us back to this article. We're going to spent 122 million dollars, plus another 50 million dollars on top of that, for art projects. Now, if we had no debt and let's say a 300 or 400 million dollars a year surplus, spending that money might merely produce an eye roll. "Geeze, couldn't we be spending the money on something more important than that? After all, in a rich country like this, it's not as if there is a shortage of people capable of supporting the arts."
However, going into debt, in order to spend 177 million dollars on the arts is sheer, screaming insanity. Seriously, we're going to go more than a billion dollars into debt over the next decade so that a bunch of bureaucrats can dole out money for poetry readings and giant statues of koala bears made out of rat feces and old car parts? What the hell is wrong with this picture?
This sort of spending -- and this only one incredibly wasteful expenditure among thousands -- is a large part of the reason why the American people have so little confidence in their elected officials. It's because despite all the high and mighty rhetoric we get out of Washington, the people in charge are not competent, serious statesmen who have the nation's best interests at heart. Instead, Washington is teeming with frivolous, shallow, bush league, out-of-touch, Mary Antoinette "let them eat cake" fiddle-while-the-whole-country-burns incompetents, who will claim everything's fine right up until the moment when the federal government's checks start bouncing and we can't even get other nations to loan us money any more.