Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Funding of the Arts

In a colloquium at the Julliard School discussing the role of government funding of the arts, Supreme Court Justice Scalia made the following statements:
"The First Amendment has not repealed the ancient rule of life, that he who pays the piper calls the tune."

"I can truly understand the discomfort with government making artistic choices, but the only remedy is to get government out of funding"
I think that he named the essential issue in those two sentences, even though the latter comment was probably sarcastic, i.e aimed at having the listener resign himself to allowing the government to decide what to fund, given that the alternative of private funding is inconceivable to most people. Nonetheless I think he does us all a favor by clearly naming the alternatives.

And of course, the same argument holds true in deciding what to teach in schools, or any other economic activity where the government has been put in the role of deciding what's in the "public's interest".


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