It's clear that the dream of containing government expansion is dead when debates about the National Endowment for the Arts no longer hinge on the question of whether it will or should survive, but on where it should squander taxpayer money next. Such a "debate" took place in the L.A. Times Sunday, as part of a feature called "If I Ran the NEA....," which I stumbled across while waiting to catch a flight back to Colorado after a few days of R & R (during which this dormant blog probably lost the 3 regular readers it had -- please come back, you guys!).
Fellow Am-Cons will find most of of the comments predictable and nauseating, rather than entertaining or enlightening. Ann Coulter was thrown into the otherwise left-leaning lineup to gleefully serve as the turd in the punchbowl. But one comment stood out for its clarity and contrarianism, considering the unlikely source: so-called comedian Bill Maher.
Here's what Maher had to say on the subject, which sounds vaguely libertarian:
"If I ran the NEA? I'd abolish it. I'd be the Gorbachev of federal arts endowing and destroy my own job as the head of it. Artists are so self-important -- art is basic to human nature, it will always be produced and does not need the government's help. The NEA is a perfect example of Mission Creep: The government's job is to protect you, from external enemies and internal criminals, and to maintain roads, schools, and a social safety net. Art is far afield, and in no danger of going away without government money or guidance."