There are few areas of government abuse that infuriate me more than does spending on the so-called “arts.” In one of the most incredible scams ever perpetrated on the American taxpayer, tens of thousands of marginal artists across the country have discovered a way to use the police power of government to compensate for the lack of actual marketable artistic skills.

The general philosophy here is that if you cannot get the uncultured great unwashed to purchase your works of art in a free market, then you just get the government to seize taxpayer funds to buy your valued works anyway.

My outrage over forced government transfers of money from those who earned it to those who produced art that wouldn’t sell in the public marketplace was born in the 1970s over a poem – a one-word poem, to be exact. Some moronic example of a complete waste of a taxpayer-financed education wrote a one-word poem and set out to get that poem published in a literary magazine. Alas, no editor could be found who would devote even the space necessary to publish this incredible poetic effort.

So, where to turn? Why, the government, of course?

Our heroic poet told the federal government that he was being denied his basic rights as an artist because nobody would publish his poem. Our government, ever eager to ease suffering where it can, decided to help. The sum of $750 was seized from some hapless wage earner and transferred to the account of one of our august literary publications, and a small section of one page of the next issue was reserved for the worthy poem.

Are you ready? Here’s what the American taxpayers paid $750 – no small amount of money in the ’70s – for: LIGHGHT

There now. Do you feel enriched? Enlightened? Has the quality of your life been made better by the incredible experience of having read that enlightened poem?

OK … since you are now so enriched and enlightened, why don’t you take the time to tell me and the rest of us uncultured slobs out here where in our Constitution you have found any authority for the Imperial Federal Government of the United States to seize the property of a private citizen for such purposes?

In exactly what way does this seizure of private property protect life, defend freedom or support the general welfare of our nation? The only two extant homo sapiens who benefited from this seizure and transfer were the publisher who pocketed the $750, and the poet who got some bragging rights.

To show you how I can see both sides of an issue, I can give you at least one example of how government spending on the arts benefits the public. It helps us locate local government offices. If you’re driving down the road looking for a government office – a county annex, for instance – just keep your eyes open for ugly sculpture. If you see some sculpture that causes you to say “Who in the hell would pay good money for a piece of junk like that?” turn in. That’s the government office you’re looking for.

Every time a politician votes to dump a load of taxpayer money into the artistic community, that politician is telling you and every other taxpayer that it is his considered opinion that the government needs that money to spend on the arts community more than you need it to spend on such things as health care, home payments, debt reduction and your children’s education. Unbridled arrogance.

Now, the latest.

Do you remember Andrew Cunanan? He’s the serial killer from San Diego who murdered Bianni Versace at the front door of his home in Miami several years back. Well, we have three artists at the La Jolla (California) Playhouse who are developing a musical around Cunanan and his exploits. That’s right, a musical about a serial killer. The three playwrights need some money, so what better place to go than to the American taxpayers?

We learned last week that the National Endowment for the Arts – the taxpayer-funded NEA – is taking $35,000 of its plunder and giving it to these playwrights. That’s $35,000 taken from families who earned it, and who presumably have a good use for it, dumped into the laps of some welfare artists to help them create their musical about a murderer.

I can hardly wait for the musical based on the life of O.J. Simpson. I wonder what that will cost the American taxpayers?

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