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Life, liberty and the pursuit of profit: America’s assault on arts funding is cultural suicide.

The new federal spending bill ups funding for the NEA, thankfully. But at the state level, outlooks aren’t so rosy (Credit: Getty/Salon)

  • The shortsighted and simpleminded can justify America’s assault on the arts and education with dubious conservative slogans like “fiscal responsibility,” “belt tightening” and “real world metrics,” but no euphemism can conceal its true nature. It is a form of cultural suicide.
  • A nation that values nothing will produce nothing of value.

David Masciotra, Salon | any American historians, especially when they shapeshift into the role of nationalistic boosters, enjoy referencing the praise Alexis de Tocqueville bestowed upon “Democracy in America” when he visited the new nation from his native France in the early nineteenth century. Most tend to omit or overlook the eternally relevant indictment de Tocqueville issued against the dominant value system of American life. “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans,” de Tocqueville wrote a friend in a private letter, “one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?”

The ultimate criterion of judgment in the United States destroys that which is most elemental to the maintenance of an excellent and enjoyable civilization. Profit is essential for creating a high standard of living, and it does energize a creative spirit in many individuals, but if made central to a culture, it becomes vampiric — slowly sucking the blood out of anything that cannot perpetually produce treasure for money managers, financiers, investors, bankers and agents.

David Masciotra is the author of four books, including "Mellencamp: American Troubadour" (University Press of Kentucky, 2015) and "Barack Obama: Invisible Man" (Eyewear Publishing, 2017).

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