by Max Brantley
Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts might seem expendable — especially given how often celebrity artists insult and even threaten the president. But such hateful high-dollar Hollywood and music-industry stars don’t receive anything from the NEA, and they shouldn’t. Not because of their insufferable political whining, but because they get rich selling their talents to the highest bidder in the private sector. I have zero interest in spending a dime of tax money to prop up those who hate the president and the tens of millions who elected him.
I do care greatly about the real recipients of endowment funds: the kids in poverty for whom NEA programs may be their only chance to learn to play an instrument, test-drive their God-given creativity and develop a passion for those things that civilize and humanize us all. They’re the reason we should stop and recognize that this line item accounting for just 0.004 percent of the federal budget is not what’s breaking the bank.
But to someone such as me — for whom an early interest in music and the arts became a lifeline to an education and academic success — this money is not expendable, extracurricular or extraneous. It is essential.