I think over the years the Federal Government has gotten into areas it has no business being in. One of these areas is the arena of culture and art. What business does the government have in determining what is and is not art? What business does the government have in deciding what artists deserve federal grants of taxpayer money? What possible justification can there be to a federal bureaucracy that spends money not on art but on the perpetuation of the bureaucracy itself?
Don't get me wrong - I would like to see both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to be eliminated as line items in the federal budget completely but I'm realistic enough to know that the entrenched interests won't give up the ghost without an all-out fight. Here's my suggested way to win that fight:
1. Eliminate the combined $335 million per year for the NEA and NEH
2. Any NEA or NEH staff member within 5-years of retirement to be given a buy-out or early retirement. Rest of staff to be laid off.
3. Replace combined budget with $385,000 to each Congressional District for art and music teacher salaries. Money only to be used for teacher salary only - no benefits or administrative salaries to be eligible for the money. The $385,00 for each of the 435 Congressmen works out to be a little less than half of the $335 million currently funding the NEA and NEH.
4. The plan would get buy-in from Congress as each member would be bringing home some bacon for local teachers and would also get support from teachers unions. This would make it easier to pass Democratic muster.
5. The plan should save over $1 billion over 5-years and eliminate two useless bureaucratic black-holes. This would be attractive to fiscal conservatives.
So let it be written - so let it be done.