Benevolent Federal programs, the subsidizing of the arts and their opposition
The perception and I believe in some ways it is a fair perception that Republicans want to allow the wealthy to retain all of their earning so they will have more capital to purchase Hummers and McMansions. While that may be true to some extent unfortunately it assumes the worst out of our fellow human being.
First it’s important to distinguish between Federal and local government. The Federal income tax is often used for far more sinister means than a local sales tax. For instance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are funded by the Federal income tax, while parks are controlled and funded by county funds so they are paid for through sales tax. A tax which you have control of how much you contribute. Because if you are buying all of your goods in that county you are seeing a direct benefit in your neighborhood through the quality of the parks system, the roads…etc (at least in an ideal world)
Federal taxes however instead of assuming that human beings are essentially good and willing to take care of each other and nurture the arts…etc, should they be permitted to keep all of the wealth they earn. It assumes instead that those who have something in them to create would be left unproductive if not for the intervention of the Federal government to take the wealth earned by certain individuals (whether interested in the arts or not) and appropriate it to support those artists or the unfortunate.
Furthermore, the role of Congress has been distorted in recent years. They are essentially the decision making body on how Federal taxes will be spent. Thus the scandal in earmarks and so called pork barrel spending. Earmarks are when a Congressman literally earmarks a page of the bill that includes appropriations for their home district. This is seen as self serving and Congressmen using their power to stay in power i.e. get reelected.
So a Congressman like Ron Paul is easily demonized when viewed through the scope of the Nation’s current understanding of Congress. When for instance, when Ron Paul vetoes a bill that would award Rosa Parks with an award, he is not saying that she doesn’t deserve an award, he is simply saying that private sector money should fund the award not tax payer money which should be delegated to serve the general welfare of the citizens of the country in a pragmatic fashion.
Now I believe that literature and the bridges at local parks are great things that most people enjoy, but it is fair to say that not everyone in the counties across the country enjoy these things. Now that is an unfortunate fact, but it is true. And while I could encourage everyone to enjoy both of those things, I don’t think it is fair to take their money so others can enjoy them. If they are things that people truly enjoy they could be built out of charity or they could be created and the creator could figure out a way to be compensated for their creation (given the current market climate) if they feel they don’t want to simply share it for free.
Now it may seem that here I am contradicting my habit (for those who know me) of downloading music or even literature for free on the internet. But I don’t believe this is the case. First, let me be clear that I believe that all copyrights should expire after 10 years. There is no reason I can find for ancestors of the creator to gain fresh profits off of their relative’s creation. Now I believe that by being exposed to the music or literature, I have the chance to approve of disapprove of the work. If I approve, I will likely talk about it with friends or family. In the case of music this spreading of their music may result in payment for a live concert or an increase in overall awareness of their art, resulting in higher fees for playing or speaking engagements. In the case of literature, if I like the piece I am likely to increase the demand for their work at my local library as well as search the internet for their material, thereby increasing the ad revenue on the sites for which they write. I feel it is the new indirect compensation of the artist that will result in a more market based compensation package for the artist. Basically there will be more quality artists making a living wage and fewer superstars making a ridiculous wage. The real lit or music geeks will be able to delve much deeper while the casual fan will be drawn to a niche or two that is more specific to their tastes. Or they will be able to slowly rotate from one niche to the next as their life progresses.
I guess I can see a problem if advertising is not eliminated, of artists who are at the top of the niches advertising across the musical or literature spectrum and thereby transcending their niches and creating a new superstar class. But would that be a more pure superstar class? Maybe. As long as they did not create their own label. But what is to stop them from doing that in a capitalistic market driven economy?
If an artist is able to create a demand of some sort, they will not starve but they will not live in a mansion either. I think this reality is coming sooner than we think, and I think it will be wonderful.
Now if the wealthy were able to keep all of their wealth then the percentage of the population of the wealthy that had all of their money to spend, say the part that would usually go to the Federal Income Tax, they would give it to their favorite cause, whether that be helping artists or giving free breakfast to school children.
The fact is that the Federal Income tax absorbs much of the “expendable income” in the wealthy class of society. I’m not oblivious to the fact that perhaps at first a great percentage of the wealthy in this country would not donate their income tax to charity if given the chance. But I believe that is because the Federal income tax has created a mindset in the US that leads most people to believe that it is the Federal Government’s job to fund things like the arts and take care of those in need. When in reality it is our fellow men and neighbors who should help.
I also believe that the Federal income tax leads to a misunderstanding and hatred between the classes in this country rather than fellowship and a sense of working together.
The government as mediator is a bad thing in most cases. The face it that the government has no revenue streams outside of forcing its people to pay taxes.
Right now a large part of the Republican Party’s platform is aimed at wealthy Americans who are furious at having high percentages of their paycheck taken without them having a say in the matter. I do not empathize with these people in
the slightest way, however it is a problem. Because when you have an entire class of people angry at the fact that they are forced to help people it creates an unhealthy climate in the country.
Now I have benefited from Federal tax dollars, I got Federal grants to go to school. All I’m saying is that I would have rather have been helped by someone who wanted to help me, and I think that system could work, if given the chance.