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Farewell Mapplethorpe, Hello Shakespeare (Roger Kimball on NEA, the W. way)
National Review Online ^ | January 29, 2004 | Roger Kimball

Posted on 01/29/2004 10:37:21 AM PST by NutCrackerBoy

Farewell Mapplethorpe, Hello Shakespeare
The NEA, the W. way.

By Roger Kimball

Under normal circumstances, the White House announcement that the president was seeking a big budget increase for the National Endowment for the Arts might have been grounds for dismay. Pronounce the acronym "NEA," and most people think Robert Mapplethorpe, photographs of crucifixes floating in urine, and performance artists prancing about naked, smeared with chocolate, and skirling about the evils of patriarchy.

Thanks, but no thanks.

But things have changed, and changed for the better at the NEA. The reason can be summed up in two trochees: Dana Gioia, the distinguished poet and critic who is the Endowment's new chairman.

Within a matter of months, Mr. Gioia has transformed that moribund institution into a vibrant force for the preservation and transmission of artistic culture. He has cut out the cutting edge and put back the art. Instead of supporting repellent "transgressive" freaks, he has instituted an important new program to bring Shakespeare to communities across America. And by Shakespeare I mean Shakespeare, not some PoMo rendition that portrays Hamlet in drag or sets A Midsummer Night's Dream in a concentration camp. (Check the website www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org for more information.)

Mr. Gioia is moving on other fronts as well. He has hired a number of able deputies who care about art and understand that what the public wants is more access to good art — opera, poetry, theater, literature — not greater exposure to social pathology dressed up as art. After a couple of decades of cultural schizophrenia, the NEA has become a clear-sighted, robust institution intent on bringing important art to the American people.

It's quite odd, really. People keep telling us — that is, professors and CNN commentators and Hollywood actors keep telling us — how very stupid President Bush is. Yet everywhere one looks he is supporting some of the most intelligent and dynamic people ever to occupy their cultural posts. Dana Gioia at the NEA, his counterpart Bruce Cole at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Leon Kass and his panel of distinguished scientists and philosophers at the President's Council on Bioethics (see their website www.bioethics.gov to get a sense of the good work they are doing on clarifying the enormous moral issues surrounding the debate over biotechnology). The Left keeps screaming about how dim George Bush is, but in the meantime, he has illuminated one area of public life after another with immensely talented and articulate people.

There is plenty of room for debate about whether and to what extent government should be directly involved in funding culture. But there can be no argument that if we are going have public support of the arts, it should be done in an enlightened and life-affirming way. This is the George Bush approach to cultural reinvigoration. Conservatives — by which term I mean people who are interested in conserving what is best from the past — should applaud his efforts. After years in the wilderness, the NEA has finally come home.

— Roger Kimball is managing editor of The New Criterion and author of Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Political Humor/Cartoons; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: art; bush43; federalfunding; nea; shakespeare; thearts
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1 posted on 01/29/2004 10:37:25 AM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Holy Mother of God! What a PR puff piece.

Did Rove see the s**tstorm here last night and have this rushed out?
2 posted on 01/29/2004 10:41:16 AM PST by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population - have them spayed or neutered. )
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: NutCrackerBoy
Doing it "right" is still no excuse for the government to be funding the NEA at all in the first place...
4 posted on 01/29/2004 10:42:02 AM PST by kevkrom (YEEEEEAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH! <splat>)
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To: NutCrackerBoy
I'm glad to hear this. I saw the "Cremaster" display in New York 6 months ago. Nothing like some gay guy with arrested psychological development playing out his Greek-mythology/Masons-coming-to-get me weirdness on the public dime to sour one's trip to the Big Apple.
5 posted on 01/29/2004 10:42:13 AM PST by wizardoz ("Crikey! I've lost my mojo!")
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: NutCrackerBoy
Did you check out Gioia's website? Looks pretty legitimate.

Many years ago, when my father was fairly well connected to the Reagan Whitehouse, a very famous ( multiple Tony award winning) Broadway producer came to him to ask that he promote his name to Reagan's people as a possible high-ranking official at the NEA. This was a man of tremendous character and tasteful artistic sensibilities. If things had worked out, and if more people like him had been left to guide the NEA, many of us might well have a different opinion of the NEA today. My point being, that regardless of what I think about Government sponsorship of the arts, it looks indeed like Gioia might just be this kind of man, and that he might just be able to make this organization acceptable to us in many respects.
7 posted on 01/29/2004 10:49:28 AM PST by Cosmo (Liberalism is for Girls!)
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Rove don't get it. It's the existance of the NEA that is the problem. My opposition differs not one whit.

Mapplethorpe or motel art, I don't care.

The money is wasted. Spend it on keeping soldiers' families off food stamps. Or just don't borrow (tax) the funds to begin with.

They seem to think we prefer one variety of liberalism over another.
8 posted on 01/29/2004 10:50:12 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: NutCrackerBoy
ITS UNCONSTITUTIONAL YOU DOLT!! I don't care if they do ANOTHER remake the Lord of the Rings! Add to the fact its immoral and simple theft!

Finally Goya won't be around forever nor will Dubya. Their replacements might be Libs who will have quite the time doling out this "increase."
9 posted on 01/29/2004 10:52:05 AM PST by KantianBurke (Principles, not blind loyalty)
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To: Cosmo
Rush appears to be using FR as his "show prep" tool again.
10 posted on 01/29/2004 10:52:51 AM PST by gov_bean_ counter
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To: gov_bean_ counter
Think he's reading this thread?

Hi Rush:)
11 posted on 01/29/2004 10:53:58 AM PST by Cosmo (Liberalism is for Girls!)
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To: kevkrom
If you compare the constitutionality of the welfare state versus the constitutionality of modest arts funding, I think a better case can be made for arts funding. Neither would pass the Madison test, of course. But let's keep things in perspective, both in the intent relative to the Constitution, and in the size of the cost.

President Bush is playing with the cards dealt him.

12 posted on 01/29/2004 10:53:59 AM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Big Government is good, so long as the right people are running it, huh?

That's the same argument my socialist/communist in-laws make - we just need the right people to run the nanny state.
13 posted on 01/29/2004 10:55:05 AM PST by over3Owithabrain
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To: Cosmo
Seemed to pick up the topics as soon as they were posted. Coinkidink?
14 posted on 01/29/2004 10:55:19 AM PST by gov_bean_ counter
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To: Arviragus
Just out of curiosity, why did you go in the first place?

I was dragged in by the folks I was visiting. They aren't very politically aware, although by the time we left I could see that they had a pretty bad taste in their mouths and I have high hopes for their future development.

15 posted on 01/29/2004 10:56:49 AM PST by wizardoz ("Crikey! I've lost my mojo!")
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To: NutCrackerBoy
I don't know how many votes GWB thought this would buy him but I'm getting very disenchanted with my president. He's either taking the conservative vote for granted or decided he doesn't need it.
16 posted on 01/29/2004 10:57:48 AM PST by Spok
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To: gov_bean_ counter; Cosmo
Rush got it off National Review Online where it was posted at 11:38 am. Posted on FR at 1:37 pm.
17 posted on 01/29/2004 10:58:07 AM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Bump.
18 posted on 01/29/2004 10:59:32 AM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: gov_bean_ counter
Rush appears to be using FR as his "show prep" tool again.

??...meaning no offence. Is that bad? :|

19 posted on 01/29/2004 11:00:29 AM PST by skinkinthegrass (Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you :)
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Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: NutCrackerBoy
So, the White House thinks its OK to confiscate taxpayer money for the "Arts" so long as the work product doesn't offend middle America? They miss the point--federal government support for the "Arts" is wrong in principle because it is unconstitutional. It is also wasteful. Why should taxpayers be forced to support ballet, symphonies, etc.? NASCAR makes it without government subsidies; why shouldn't the "Arts"?
21 posted on 01/29/2004 11:04:25 AM PST by reelfoot
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To: skinkinthegrass
No. At least we know the accompanying anlysis will be solid. He borrows that too.
22 posted on 01/29/2004 11:04:28 AM PST by gov_bean_ counter
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To: NutCrackerBoy
The debate has shifted from how best to have a federal government managed according to Conservative Constitutional principles, to a debate over how Republicans administer socialist programs.

Apparently Bush has placed some well thought of people in charge of the socialist programs, so now it's OK to up their budgets.
23 posted on 01/29/2004 11:05:44 AM PST by spodefly (This is my tagline. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: All
There is a lot of wisdom on the board today.
Bush should make Freerebuplic budget director.
24 posted on 01/29/2004 11:05:58 AM PST by genghis
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Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

To: Spok
I don't know how many votes GWB thought this would buy him but I'm getting very disenchanted with my president. He's either taking the conservative vote for granted or decided he doesn't need it.

I'm a major BushBot, but I acknowledge that your sentiment is inescapable. True conservative principles should continue to be voiced, developed, argued over, studied; the more the better. I can only say that this NEA thing is entirely analogous to Faith Based Initiative, which I support whole-heartedly. It is even more so from a PR point-of-view.

Based on this move, I think there is good reason to expect that NEA is safe from a takeover by arch-liberals in the forseeable future. What do you expect would happen if W moved to abolish the NEA?

26 posted on 01/29/2004 11:10:39 AM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: reelfoot
Actually one big subsidy that Nascar and other similar entities recieve is related off-site highway and road improvement. When a track is built, there are road improvements that must be made both locally and sometime regionally to handle the much larger flow of traffic. These road improvements are paid for by the taxpayers and often run in the millions of $$$ for a single venue. I know of at least 1 proposed Nascar track that was not built because the State & County involved demanded that the track pay the full of the cost of off site road improvements. The Nascar people refused to do it.
27 posted on 01/29/2004 11:25:44 AM PST by XRdsRev
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Et Tu Dubya?
28 posted on 01/29/2004 11:27:15 AM PST by 11th_VA
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To: spodefly
The debate has shifted from how best to have a federal government managed according to Conservative Constitutional principles, to a debate over how Republicans administer socialist programs.

Apparently Bush has placed some well thought of people in charge of the socialist programs, so now it's OK to up their budgets.

What you say is correct, but I can't tell whether you are entirely disgusted by it or not.

29 posted on 01/29/2004 11:34:14 AM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: NutCrackerBoy; All
FYI, from

re: ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE ARTS

"The arts are a vitally important economic industry, generating revenue, creating jobs and developing communities. Several resources below offer substantial research findings on the arts and economic development, from statewide economic impact studies to national reports."

National Studies

Arts & Economic Prosperity: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts Organizations and Their Audiences, released in 2002, is the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts industry ever conducted. It is based on surveys of 3,000 nonprofit arts organizations and more than 40,000 attendees at arts events in 91 cities in 33 states, plus the District of Columbia. Several Florida communities are included in this report.

According to the report, America's nonprofit arts industry generates:


--$134 billion in economic activity every year, including $24.4 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues.

CLICK HERE for more info.
30 posted on 01/29/2004 11:35:01 AM PST by summer
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To: reelfoot
"Why should taxpayers be forced to support ballet, symphonies, etc.? NASCAR makes it without government subsidies; why shouldn't the "Arts"?"

Simply, because the arts couldn't make it without them. I work for one America's big-five orchestras, and we've run deficits in two of the past three years, with another projected for this fiscal year. It's not mismanagement - people just aren't showing up. We're facing increased competition from the myriad forms of entertainment on which people can spend their disposible income. With the dumbing-down of society plaguing this country, the fine arts are losing.
31 posted on 01/29/2004 11:35:23 AM PST by NietzschesJoker (Laughing and staying silent--is that now your whole philosophy?)
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We could get all this NEA stuff cheaper if we'd hire only illegal aliens to work in them.

Or we could just outsource them to India or China.
32 posted on 01/29/2004 11:38:41 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: NietzschesJoker
I work for one America's big-five orchestras, and we've run deficits in two of the past three years, with another projected for this fiscal year. It's not mismanagement - people just aren't showing up.

So, if NASCAR or wrasslin' declines in attendance and becomes unprofitable, they should also be subsidized by (borrowed) tax dollars?

The arts originally were the popular entertainment of their times and were subsidized by wealthy private patrons.

Bush will not get a single liberal or swing voter on this. He does make his base mad.

Bush wants to do this and doesn't really care what conservative voters think of it. The conclusion seems pretty inescapable.
33 posted on 01/29/2004 11:44:23 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: NietzschesJoker
"Simply, because the arts couldn't make it without them."

So, if NASCAR loses audience, and runs a deficit, taxpayers who are not interested in NASCAR should be fleeced to subsidize those people who do want to go to the races? It is immoral to expropriate the wealth of one person to subsidize a second person's entertainment.
34 posted on 01/29/2004 11:44:37 AM PST by reelfoot
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Mr. Gioia won't be around to control the NEA forever. Probably not even in 2005.
35 posted on 01/29/2004 11:49:16 AM PST by The Old Hoosier (Right makes might.)
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To: NutCrackerBoy
"What do you expect would happen if W moved to abolish the NEA?"

He'd get my respect back.
I have voted Republican in every presidential election since 1972 and this is the first time I've had doubts. If GWB abandons the Second Amendment, I may sit this one out.

36 posted on 01/29/2004 11:50:24 AM PST by Spok
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To: reelfoot
Something like funding NASCAR can be a "loss leader". Let's say a city or state spends some taxpayer money to build the infrastructure that enables them to operate. The local economy gets a big shot in the arm.
37 posted on 01/29/2004 11:50:46 AM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: NutCrackerBoy; kenth
I guess if big, unconstitutional government programs come with a conservative flavor, then they're A-OK. But we already knew that, didn't we?
38 posted on 01/29/2004 11:52:59 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Don't see anything in the Constitution about promoting the Arts or subsidizing artistes, but if it is going to be spent, it might as well be spent this way.
39 posted on 01/29/2004 11:54:06 AM PST by Little Ray (Why settle for a Lesser Evil? Vote Cthuhlu for President!)
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Money

Money, the long green,
cash, stash, rhino, jack
or just plain dough.

Chock it up, fork it over,
shell it out. Watch it
burn holes through pockets.

To be made of it! To have it
to burn! Greenbacks, double eagles,
megabucks and Ginnie Maes.

It greases the palm, feathers a nest,
holds heads above water,
makes both ends meet.

Money breeds money.
Gathering interest, compounding daily.
Always in circulation.

Money. You don't know where it's been,
but you put it where your mouth is.
And it talks.

Dana Gioia
40 posted on 01/29/2004 11:56:06 AM PST by Califelephant
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To: George W. Bush; reelfoot
I see merit in both of your statements, and I'm afraid that my answer will not assuage either of you. The arts - those that are truly arts - have academic/spiritual merit far beyond that of NASCAR or wrasslin'. They deserve to be supported in the same way, but to a lesser extent, that education deserves support - it will improve those whom patronize it.

Of course, what you take from a Monet or a body slam isn't quantifiable, so I have nothing to persuade you with. The merit lies in the effect.

I'm a good FReeper (so don't hurt me!), and I think you are right in that this will neither swing libs nor make the base any happier.

Can I leave you with a quote from Heidegger? "Art is the most genuine and profound will to semblance; namely, to the scintillation of what tranfigures in which supreme lawfulness of Dasein becomes visible." That is honestly the best argument I can make.

Have a good day - I gotta get back to work, making money from the arts!
41 posted on 01/29/2004 11:56:54 AM PST by NietzschesJoker (Laughing and staying silent--is that now your whole philosophy?)
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To: NietzschesJoker
And for the arts! D'oh!
42 posted on 01/29/2004 12:03:36 PM PST by NietzschesJoker (Laughing and staying silent--is that now your whole philosophy?)
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To: redlipstick
Under normal circumstances, the White House announcement that the president was seeking a big budget increase for the National Endowment for the Arts might have been grounds for dismay. Pronounce the acronym "NEA," and most people think Robert Mapplethorpe, photographs of crucifixes floating in urine, and performance artists prancing about naked, smeared with chocolate, and skirling about the evils of patriarchy.

Thanks, but no thanks.

But things have changed, and changed for the better at the NEA.

PING

43 posted on 01/29/2004 12:07:28 PM PST by cyncooper
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To: NietzschesJoker
Can I leave you with a quote from Heidegger? "Art is the most genuine and profound will to semblance; namely, to the scintillation of what tranfigures in which supreme lawfulness of Dasein becomes visible." That is honestly the best argument I can make.

And I will spend some time later today, practicing on my Yamaha U3 (which I worked hard to buy on a modest income) so I could practice Chopin's etudes and nocturnes with some mechanical and tonal accuracy.

The difference is that I don't think I'm entitled to having taxpayers buy it for me. Or pay me to play it. If I am interested in outdated musical forms (from a commercial standpoint), that is my own problem and not the taxpayers'.

I just wanted you to understand that I do hold the arts in some regard and avoid all sporting events but I do not favor government subsidy of entertainment.
44 posted on 01/29/2004 12:08:13 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: Little Ray
Don't see anything in the Constitution about promoting the Arts or subsidizing artistes

I don't either. I am fascinated by the topic of how federal expenditures are justified constitutionally. Article 1 Section 8 is my friend. Perhaps we are dealing with a penumbra situation here. As Walter Williams would say, "Let's look at it."

The Congress shall have power...

OK so far.

To establish post offices and post roads;

Government at any level serves the function of being a focal point for what people need collectively, like health inspectors.

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

Patents. Copyrights. Not fine arts, and not direct funding. But certainly the intention to promote the creation of good things.

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

Here is the big step. Anything that the states can do, which is just about anything, may need to be regulated as inter-state commerce, and this has been expanded to mean anything the states can do can also be done centrally by the federal government, as a way of consolidating efforts.

Don't shoot me. I am just the messenger.

45 posted on 01/29/2004 12:12:41 PM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Well,

I suppose changing our laws so as to allow illegal immigrants to come into the US and drive down wages for his corporate buddies wasn't far enough to the left.

Now, we're going to be giving the NEA the largest budget increase in history. Way to go, George. Hope you enjoyed being president.
46 posted on 01/29/2004 12:21:45 PM PST by applemac_g4
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To: NutCrackerBoy
What you say is correct, but I can't tell whether you are entirely disgusted by it or not.

I no longer get disgusted. I observe it, and I comment on it, but staying perpetually disgusted with politics in d.c., and our inevitable slide from a Constitutional Republic to a socialist democracy, is not healthy for children and other living things, including me.

47 posted on 01/29/2004 12:23:18 PM PST by spodefly (This is my tagline. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: NutCrackerBoy; kevkrom
If you compare the constitutionality of the welfare state versus the constitutionality of modest arts funding, I think a better case can be made for arts funding.

I agree. However the operative word here is modest. NEA funds could be reduced by 75% and it still would not be modest.

Federal art is art chosen by committee. Art chosen by committee, is almost by defination bad art.

48 posted on 01/29/2004 12:28:58 PM PST by NathanR (California Si! Aztlan NO!)
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To: NutCrackerBoy
"Government at any level serves the function of being a focal point for what people need collectively, like health inspectors."

I disagree, and I don't think that was the intent behind the Constitution. We dont' NEED health inspectors paid for by the government. IF people want them, they'll form a private company to do so.

Almost all, no all of the things government does should not be done by them period. If it's not national defense, they should just go home.
49 posted on 01/29/2004 12:47:35 PM PST by LaraCroft (If the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, do the stupid get stupider?)
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To: NietzschesJoker; NutCrackerBoy; summer
Regardless of what people think of the NEA, funding for it was not going to go away in any case. So what's wrong with Bush actually using it for something that could have a positive effect?

One of the reasons we have so many people willing to go out and watch garbage (or listen to it) is that they've never really seen anything good - the schools stopped Shakespeare and started up with things like the Vagina Monologues well over a generation ago.

We're going to spend this money anyway, because realistically speaking, no Congress is going to cut it out. So let's at least have it go for something that does not belong in the sewer.

Conservatives could actually have some positive input into this, instead of running around and screaming that the sky is falling.
50 posted on 01/29/2004 12:48:26 PM PST by livius
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