You have probably seen America’s new proposed federal budget for 2018 in the news over the last few days. Wherein budget director Mick Mulvaney asserts that programs like school lunches and Meals on Wheels don’t show any “results.” Because, apparently, being fed and the improved nutrition that comes from consuming enough food in a day to meet one’s physical needs instead of going hungry is not a “result.” There are actually other metrics that show results too, but I remain boggled that achieving the goal that the program sets out to to — namely to feed people who would otherwise go hungry — is not result enough.
Then there’s arts funding. Art which is forever demonized as something we “don’t need” even though a person literally cannot walk through their home without encountering it: someone designed your furniture, after all, and your clothes, and the box your breakfast cereal came in; and are your walls bare, or do you have art prints, photos, decorations, and mirrors up? Art which is claimed to have no value even as we stream it by the hours to our computers, stereos, and TVs; and collectively pay billions per year to go to the movies, concerts, live theatre, and art festivals.
But man, those artists sure want a lot of money for their labors, right? Let’s break that down. Each American currently pays:
- $1.37 per year on public television
- 46¢ per year on the National Endowment for the Arts
- another 46¢ per year on the National Endowment for the Humanities
- bonus stat: $1.48 per year on the Office of Violence Against Women
On the other hand, our military budget is currently $598 billion per year, almost as much as the next fourteen countries put together. This works out to roughly $1835 per American per year. This does not, by the way, include the GOP’s proposed military budget increase in 2018. So throw in another couple hundred bucks for that… a couple hundred bucks which could fund these programs individually for more than a hundred years.
But don’t ask single moms or coal miners to pay that buck and change per year for PBS for their kids. That’s a lot to ask of the poor folk when all they get in return is the direct benefit of easy access to educational and cultural programming. Two grand for a military that already dwarfs the rest of the first and second world is much more compassionate. (If the idea that coal miners and single moms can’t appreciate the benefits of art, culture, and education isn’t classist as all get out, I don’t what is.)