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Virginia decommissions the "arts"

By Michael R. Shannon
web posted March 8, 2010

The Lord God Almighty grants eternal life in the hereafter, but on earth it's politicians who control immortality. So when the Virginia House of Delegates passes a budget that executes the Commission for the Arts, it's big news.

Politicians prefer to be more even–handed as in: you lay off ten percent of your state troopers and then we can lay off ten percent of our mimes. Across–the–board cuts avoid evaluating the worth and function of bureaucracies and instead delegate important government decisions to Procrustes; and shifts the blame to him, too.

That's why total elimination sets a dangerous precedent. If delegates boot the ballet, there's no telling what's next!

Government feeders fear the zero like nothing else. Better to cut the budget 95 percent. Then, like the German Army after WWI, it could survive with a skeleton staff, until the return of tax–and–spend Democrats puts new taxpayer–funded flesh on those patiently waiting bones.

Zero means get a haircut and get a real job.

Predictably, every tutu and beret within a 50–mile radius of Richmond protested the closure of the public arts trough.

Arguments ranged from jobs to junior. Employees of "Kid Pan Alley" claimed to "inspire creative thinking" by enabling 14,000 children to write songs performed in concerts before over 200,000 people.

Inflated numbers aside, that's a chilling thought. I see generations of grim parents enduring the agony of listening to other people's brats saw through some abomination until their little Mozart is able to seize the stage.

If parents want their little Gershwin to make it in music, do what we did. My son took piano lessons paid for without begging for a subsidy from Richmond. Admittedly it didn't last very long, because after a year or so the teacher fired him — which came as a shock since he was only nine.

(The teacher claimed she was retiring, but I think that was to spare our feelings. She still sees students, just not Karl.)

A teacher at The School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community, told reporters if the commission is eliminated, "I and about 50 percent of my friends will be out of a job."

A valid point since commission money is not really funding the next Michelangelo, it's more like the next Mr. Peepers — an anonymous paper–shuffler who gets to hang around "artists" and "poets" so he's part of the "creative community."

This $4.4 million in tax dollars spent to subsidize the affectations of Virginia's upper crust isn't a crop, and this is the year the boll weevils hit, so there's less cotton.

It's my money and your money that the government takes and spends as it pleases.

The House has recognized in a recession the vast majority of taxpayers are not pleased their money is being spent to subsidize "art" and "artists" they have no interest in seeing.

After the budget vote, Democrat House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong pontificated he would "rather resign my seat than vote for this budget."

Don't let the door hit you in the behind. And while you're at it, take Sen. Ralph Northam (D–Norfolk) with you.

Northam is the legislative giant that introduced a bill establishing a council to provide guidelines regarding concussions and requires any student-athlete who suffers a concussion be pulled from play and not allowed to return until a doctor clears him.

Can't you just see the awed and grateful constituents back home? "Thank you, Sen. Northam! Last season when Bubba wasn't comatose, he didn't know what day it was, but thanks to your bold leadership he won't have to play football with a concussion again."

Isn't this what parents are for?

But guess what, Northam just happens to be a "pediatric neurologist" and since his legislation requires "clearance from a licensed health–care professional" I guarantee a visit to the CVS Minute Clinic won't qualify.

This bill will do nothing to reduce concussions and not much to increase Northam's income.

A simple rule change that outlaws the massive cage on football helmets would do the trick. There is less grillwork on a '58 Buick. I played 16 seasons of Rugby without a helmet and never suffered a concussion.

Why? A thick German skull for one; and the knowledge that without bars over my nose, using my head as a weapon would get it broken. Going back to a simple T–bar face guard would remove the sense of facial invulnerability that encourages head–first tackles.

Politics is broken. Not because laws don't get passed, but because too many publicity–seeking, trivial, nanny–state laws do get passed.

My advice to Richmond and Washington is govern better by meddling less. ESR

Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at michael-shannon@comcast.net.






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