Donald Trump has called for a complete defunding of the National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities Act established under the Johnson administration in 1965.
In the 52 years that this act has been in place there has been no president, Democrat or Republican, that has called for its removal or even offered any significant opposition to it.
These programs take up approximately $300 million of the national budget. Why is this on the top of Trump’s list to cut out of the budget, when other government programs dwarf the spending of the endowment programs?
Trump is following a trend in conservative politics that has presented itself in recent years—pushing for a more utilitarian governing and spending. This is a rather dangerous trend as it makes sense on the surface and tends to win conservative politicians votes, but the reasoning behind it is flawed.
The importance of arts and humanities cannot be decided by a simple cost/benefit analysis. Applying simple solutions to complex problems sounds good when you hear it in a speech but in reality it isn’t quite that simple.
Many GOP candidates have also followed this trend, including Senator Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio presents a utilitarian take on the issue saying “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”
While it is difficult to appraise concrete value on the role of the arts and humanities in our country, and the exact value is most definitely a matter of debate, it is fair to say most would agree that the arts are indisputably important in our culture.
The biggest effect Trump’s actions will have is making the arts less accessible, which will translate to people of lower socioeconomic groups being unable to afford opportunities in pursuing endeavors in the arts.
It would also result in the defunding of PBS and NPR, two of the most prominent non-profit public media services in the country. These organizations are some of the only media outlets that have no ties to a certain party or belief system.
This proposition by our newly elected president is an egregious disregard of understood boundaries in an attempt to indulge our right side majority’s hawkish intentions.
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