16 December 2009

An Open Letter To Senator John McCain

Dear Mr. McCain,

Since this is a blog post that you will probably never read, and since I still don't believe you know how to use a computer, I will skip the usual pleasantries. Instead, I will cut straight to the point. As Peter Hum and Jason Parker, among others, have pointed out, in your zeal to identify every misspent cent in the federal budget, you recently noted that Jazz at Lincoln Center received an $800,000 grant. You find this prospect to be wholly repulsive, it seems. "Next time you're in New York, go to the Lincoln Center," you said, adding sarcastically, "Jazz lovers rejoice."

I understand the principles of limited government which you hold dear (that is, when you are not calling for the escalation of foolish and unwinnable wars halfway around the globe which cost thousands of times more than these grants for jazz programs). Frankly, I agree with the assertion that the current economic crisis is the result of overextension in both the private and public spheres. However, as the old saying goes, you are being a pound foolish and a penny wise. With the 2010 federal budget deficit coming in at over a trillion dollars, it is simply asinine to be haggling over such a trifle as NEA grants.

I suggest you drop your vendetta against jazz, and try to balance the budget by focusing on programs that actually make a dent in the ledger (like outmoded weapons programs, for instance). Jazz is one of the most important cultural legacies of our republic, but you would not know it from the support (or lack thereof) it receives from our government. Moreso than just about every industrialized nation, the United States depends almost solely on the private sphere to fund and promote the fine arts. Judging by the status quo, you have effectively already won your battle to defund the arts. So leave us the hell alone and allow institutions like J@LC, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the NEA to at least keep the pittance they receive from the federal government.

Most Sincerely,
David Hill

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