A great nation, like a great artist, produces its own great art

Taxpayer money is wasted by the National Endowment for the Arts' mission. It has to be. Photo: Norman Rockwell painted himself painting/Photobucket

INDIANAPOLIS, March 14, 2012— The National Endowment for the Arts has a misleading slogan: “A great nation deserves great art.” Au contraire, mon ami: a great nation  produces great art.

Great art does not happen on demand, to order, whenever someone throws a bucket of money at some “artist.” Great art is in the eye not of the bureaucrat, but of the patron.

What defines “great art” better than its advocates’ buying it, or spending their own money to have it seen? Only inferior work needs coerced money to sustain it, and only politically-connected artists are bestowed such taxpayer largesse. (“Good” or “bad” is not the criterion—nor is it possible for one bureaucrat or a roomful of bureaucrats, to ascertain “good art”versus“bad art)

Of course, subsidizing something that is inferior is enabling a lower talent to usurp the market for something that is greater. What public purpose is there in promoting mediocre art?

And from both economic and humanitarian perspectives, what purpose is there in keeping the inferior artist struggling along on welfare, when he could be making a great living as, say, a dentist?

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Tim Kern

Tim Kern taught economics for fifteen years, and discovered that understanding life is easy; it’s recognizing reality that takes practice. He holds a music degree, and later earned an MBA in finance from Northwestern University. He has lived across the US, and now makes his home in Anderson, Indiana.

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