I have nothing against the NEA/NEH, except how it's funded.
- The NEA is “welfare for cultural elitists"
- Over half their funding goes to the 10 most liberal states (New York, California, etc).
- Places like the MET get $300M from private contributions, and have $4B in assets, why should rural taxpayers have to contribute anything to them?
- Then there's waste -- like grants for "Sitting with Cactus", or subsidizing productions of Julius Caesar where our President is assassinated.
So if you like it, fine -- contribute to it. Forcing others to contribute to it, is not what liberty looks like. So you can support Liberty or the politicization of the arts (Cultural Marxism), but not both.
But it's not much money?
The NEA costs 154M/year, since its creation it's cost us ≈$7B to give out $4B of our dollars to "art" that we may or may not wish to support, like the wonderful contributions to art such as the Jar of Urine with a plastic Crucifix knows as "Piss-Christ".
Now is $7B real money? Depends if you think about what else you could buy with that, like maybe150,000 job-years (3,400 jobs for 50 years?) is that worth something?
You can't take money OUT of the economy (even just $7B), without it coming from somewhere else. So in the grand scheme of government spending, it is insignificant compared to the total federal budget, but if think deeper, and one of those people put out of work because we forced businesses and individuals had to sponsor Piss Christ instead of keeping/employing more people, or investing in their companies growth, I bet it matters. In scale it's irrelevant, unless it was your job that was impacted, then it was extremely important to you. The problem is that there's a lot of selfish people that don't care about who they hurt, only who they benefit.
NOTE: I'm being generous with the numbers, since I'm not counting the overhead, interest, opportunity costs, nor am I looked at the price paid vs. real value. So the deeper point is that it DOES matter, because it is a symptom of the bigger problem, or the fallacy that this is a useful service in the first place.
Some want to drown the scale of the abuse, and pretend that forcing others to spend their money on things they disagree with, isn't a valid complaint, and doesn't have a consequence. At best that's a lie of omission, or a distraction. At worse, it's disinformation/propaganda.
But what about the arts?
Do I think we should contribute money to the arts? Absolutely. But it's not voluntary contributions when the money is taken from you at gunpoint (forced taxes), administrated by mostly one party, and used to politicize the arts, in order to pander votes. And that's what the complaint about the NEA is about.
The statist undertone is, "if it wasn't for government, the arts wouldn't exist at all". But the NEA wasn't created until 1965, and we had plenty of arts before then. In fact, if anything, they've declined since government started "helping" and Americans figured "I gave at the paycheck". Still, Americans give about $250B/year to charity (2) (more than any other country -- something Sorkin forgets to mention in his rant against American exceptionalism. About 5% (about $13B) goes directly to arts and culture -- but 40% to religion, 20% to education, which are both big contributors to the arts. And even more is contributed to the arts by patronage and commercial purchases. So figure 500 hundred times as much money comes from private charity as from government... so much for the "needing government" undertone.