John “Lee” Ruberry of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven.

By John Ruberry

Last week President Trump released his proposed fiscal 2018 budget. Not included in it was funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The left, which dominates the arts, responded predictably, acting as if art itself was being attacked.

Sit down and breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Now relax. If the NEA and the NEH disappear–there will still be art. Even after eight years of economic dormancy under Barack Obama, the United States is still a fabulously wealthy nation with plenty of disposable income, some of which will of course be spent on the arts.

Do you feel better now? Good. I knew you would.

Art is everywhere. In fact it’s right in front of you now–my post at Da Tech Guy and all of the others here are artistic endeavors, albeit not funded by the federal government.

Yes, the NEA and the NEH, as far as I know, no longer funds exhibitions of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs showing genitalia of pre-pubescent girls or a display of Piss Christ, but this Great Society mutation of royal patronage of the arts–didn’t we fight a revolution against a king?–makes little cultural or economic sense, as George Will explains.

David Marcus, artistic director of a Brooklyn-based theater project and senior contributor to The Federalist, says the NEA produces “perverse market incentives” that explain why many arts institutions “are failing badly at reaching new audiences, and losing ground.”

“Many theater companies, even the country’s most ‘successful,’ get barely 50 percent of their revenue from ticket sales. Much of the rest comes from tax-deductible donations and direct government grants. This means that the real way to succeed as an arts organization is not to create a product that attracts new audiences, but to create a product that pleases those who dole out the free cash. The industry received more free money than it did a decade ago, and has fewer attendees.”

The arts community is incestuous, especially within its foundations and boardrooms. You scratch my Cubist back and I’ll massage your western yodeling feet. You’ve heard of crony capitalism. There is also crony arts.

As usual, I don’t have to look beyond my own grossly mismanaged state of Illinois–when we had budgets they made about as much sense as a Jackson Pollock painting–to find an example of cronyism in practice. The Illinois Arts Council Agency, which as you can tell by its name, is a state agency and it is a recipient of National Endowment for the Arts cash. It was founded in 1965, which not coincidentally, was when the NEA began. The chair of the Illinois Arts Council Agency is Shirley Madigan, the wife of state House Speaker and Illinois Democratic Party Boss Michael Madigan. Their daughter is Lisa Madigan, Illinois’ attorney general.

The Illinois Arts Council Agency boasts that nearly 100 percent of the state’s legislative districts receives some IACA funding. It’s all about spreading the wealth around. As for those legislative districts, the geographic contortion created by Michael Madigan’s gerrymandering just might be worthy enough to be put on display at the Art Institute of Chicago adjacent to those Pollock-esque state budgets, but that’s another matter.

The NEA and the NEH also operates under the same spread-the-favors-around–I mean wealth, mindset–which is why defenders of these groups cite federal funding for events such as the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Nevada and the Hip Hop Initiative in North Carolina as justification for these agencies.

Blogger on a self-funded trip to the Vicksburg battlefield

The NEH provided funding for Ken Burns’ acclaimed 1990 Civil War documentary that was broadcast on PBS, which is another success boasted by supporters of the NEH. Oh, Trump’s budget wants to eliminate for that network as well as NPR. Have you seen Burns’ Civil War? It’s fabulous. But what of the money for sales of Ken Burns’ Civil War book, or the Civil War DVDs and CDs? Or Civil War digital downloads? How much does the federal government get from those sales?

How much does Ken Burns collect?

Sure, NEA and NEH funding is a very small piece of federal spending–$148 million is the expenditure for this year. But proper budgeting means saying “No” a lot. America is wealthy–but not infinitely so.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  I noted with some interest this week the suit between a California teacher and her union; Rebecca Friedrichs and ten of her colleagues are suing the NEA and its affiliate, the California Teachers Association to “obtain freedom from compelled support for unionism.”  Alec Torres wrote about this suit in December:

Over the past 26 years, Rebecca Friedrichs has been forced, as a condition of her employment, to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a private organization whose actions she largely does not support. As an elementary-school teacher in the Savanna School District of Buena Park, Calif., she has more than $1,000 automatically taken out of her salary every year and given to teachers’ unions. Faced with year after year of compulsory payments, Friedrichs is now on a path to end this union coercion.

California is not a “right to work” state and so Ms. Friedrichs and other teachers in her state are compelled to join a union.

A California teacher has filed a lawsuit against her union that claims she was cut off from benefits and from having a vote on the contract because she did not want her dues spent on political causes she did not support.

“There’s this undercurrent of fear and intimidation,” said Rebecca Friedrichs, whose suit seeks an exemption from union financial obligations since she is receiving no benefits from the union–political or non-political. “If you’re not in step with what the union’s doing, if you stand against it, you’re not a part of the club. You’re bullied. It’s very intimidating.”

In addition, she objects to the union’s involvement in political activities such as lobbying:

“What troubles me is the union is so involved in politics that they use our money to put a lot of those government officials into their jobs. Now the union is bargaining with officials who have been put in their spot by union money, and they’re union-friendly,” she said. “You have union-friendly officials on the other side, and taxpayers aren’t represented, and they’re bargaining with taxpayer money. I think that’s political.”

The suit, which you can read here,  hopes to overturn the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

For my part, I’m very sympathetic with Ms. Friendrichs.  I live in Louisiana and I have the right in my state to be a member of no union whatsoever if that’s my choice.

When I started teaching 18 years ago, I was young and stupid and joined NEA because my principal at the time said it was a good idea and that everyone should be a member of a “professional organization.”  I signed right on up and paid hefty dues that were drafted right out of my check every month.

I never thought much about it after that.

But in 2011 I saw the light; I got an email from NEA saying that not only were they endorsing Obama in 2012 (again) but that individual member donations to their PAC would be doubled to ensure his re-election.  I literally got nauseous and got on the phone to drop my membership as fast as I could.

I moved my membership to a non-political professional organization that focuses on education and teacher support rather than funding charlatan politicians.

Friedrichs believes that most teachers are apolitical and that the unions have lost focus:

Friedrichs said that the union might have an easier time recruiting teachers if it served the interests of the students, rather than its own coffers.

I don’t know about the apolitical part, but I agree with her that the purpose of the NEA should not be to handpick candidates or coerce affairs outside of the needs of the teachers and students.  As I said, they lost me when they took my dues to fund their own candidate choice, one to whom I was totally opposed.

I hope Friedrichs and her colleagues win their suit and that forced union membership dies.  It’s an infringement against one’s very basic right of free speech and choice.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

If the backwards nature of the left was not already apparent the story of North-Western’s interesting class just cements it.

Northwestern University psychology professor J. Michael Bailey isn’t sure whether he’ll say he shouldn’t have allowed a live sex demo in an after-class session.

“If I decide to say I shouldn’t have done this,” Bailey told the Chicago Tribune Thursday, “it will be because [the controversy] could have been avoided, not because anybody has been harmed by it.”

Bailey allowed a man to demonstrate the use of a sex toy on his naked girlfriend in front of about 100 Northwestern University students Feb. 21, and the firestorm has been building since.

Michael Graham has video (sorry guys not the video you hoped for)

At the other McCain Smitty from Afghanistan is suggesting Charlie Sheen for Northwestern U’s First Heidi Fleiss Chair Of Applied Public Debauchery Studies while Stacy points out more idiocy from an NEA representative:

“Oral sex, masturbation, and orgasms need to be taught in education,” Diane Schneider told the audience at a [United Nations conference] panel on combating homophobia and transphobia. Schneider, representing the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers union in the US, advocated for more “inclusive” sex education in US schools.

Makes you want to just go out and support the union in Wisconsin doesn’t it?

More Amazing was the initial defense as Michelle Malkin reports:

The p.r. flack for Northwestern defended the “lecture” and “demonstration” as an example of teaching that puts the high-priced school “at the leading edge.”

But some students could see that the Emperor had no clothes, literally:

At least one student who witnessed the XXX-rated demo had a more accurate description:

“I didn’t expect to see a live sex show,” said Justin Smith

So once again, let’s go over the lessons of the left. Showing up for work is grounds for dismissal while playing hooky is not. The US is falling behind nationally in education so we need to teach masturbation, and $50,0000 a year colleges defend live sex acts with toys as a proper form of education.

Meanwhile a student get suspended for holding a door for a woman with her hands full.

There is a new study out that looking at boobs is healthy, if that’s true looking at all these idiots will add years to our lifespans.

An Art Gallery in Denmark shows Yale how it’s done:

A Danish gallery has decided to exhibit a caricature of Muhammad that unleashed a wave of protests in the Muslim world against Denmark in 2006. Citing an article in magazine Sappho, Agence France-Presse reports that the controversial caricature will be part of a larger exhibition dedicated to the watercolor works of the artist-caricaturist Kurt Westergaard at the Galleri Draupner in Skanderborg.

This is called actually speaking truth to power, as opposed to taking instruction from power as the NEA seems to be promulgating:

The NEA is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts. That is right, the largest funder of the arts in the nation – a fact that I’m sure was not lost on those that were on the call, including myself. One of the NEA’s major functions is providing grants to artists and arts organizations. The NEA has also historically shown the ability to attract “matching funds” for the art projects and foundations that they select. So we have the nation’s largest arts funder, which is a federal agency staffed by the administration, with those that they potentially fund together on a conference call discussing taking action on issues under vigorous national debate. Does there appear to be any potential for conflict here?

Discussed throughout the conference call was a hope that this group would be one that would carry on past the United We Serve campaign to support the President’s initiatives and those issues for which the group was passionate. The making of a machine appeared to be in its infancy, initiated by the NEA, to corral artists to address specific issues. This function was not the original intention for creating the National Endowment for the Arts.

A machine that the NEA helped to create could potentially be wielded by the state to push policy. Through providing guidelines to the art community on what topics to discuss and providing them a step-by-step instruction to apply their art form to these issues, the “nation’s largest annual funder of the arts” is attempting to direct imagery, songs, films, and literature that could create the illusion of a national consensus. This is what Noam Chomsky calls “manufacturing consent.”

I guess this is the soviet Chicago way of making art.

I’ll wager that there will be no Saudi money going to the Galleri-draupner anytime soon.

Via Glenn.