There is a quote famously attributed to Winston Churchill that when asked to cut funding for the arts during World War II he replied: “Then, what are we fighting for?”
In reality, it never happened — Churchill never said it — but does the fact the quote was made-up then remove all credence from the position behind it?
President Trump’s proposed budget calls for a drastic increase in defence spending — $54 billion — paid for by gutting programs that support the arts, public housing, education, the poor, senior citizens and science.
In short, it’s humanitarian programs that will get the axe, all in the name of an even more powerful military complex.
Does our country need to be protected? Well, sure. But the question we should be asking is: Does our country need even more protection?
It should be worth noting we already spend more on our military spending than everyone else in the world. In fact, we spend more than Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France, Germany and India — combined.
Not only is the US in “first place” when it comes to military spending, we’re in first place by a lot. For ever dollar China spends, we spend more than double — $2.77.
In all, the world spent $1.6 trillion in military expenditures in 2015. America, land of the free, accounted for a staggering 37 percent of that total.
But what’s that record worth to you? Is it worth sacrificing funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? PBS? NPR? Their government funding would be entirely eliminated.
The CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation that was created by Congress in 1967. It is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting and the largest single source of funding for public radio, television and related online and mobile services.
The average American pays a whopping $1.35 per year to sustain the program that, in turn, helps to keep over 1,100 public radio stations and 362 public television stations on the air.
Is America really willing to trade that for an extra stealth plane? Another aircraft carrier?
But the CPB isn’t the only program on the chopping block, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would be gone too.
Perhaps one of the most baffling cuts calls for the elimination of the Community Services Block Grant and the Community Development Block Grant, which funds Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels? Seriously?
In defending the budget, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney asked if the government should continue to ask a “coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?”
“The answer was no,” he said. “We can ask them to pay for defense — and we will — but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
There is a serious argument to be made that a “coal miner in West Virginia” would benefit far more from public radio and television — or Meals on Wheels — than by superfluous defense spending.
As Churchill did say: “The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them … Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”