Skip to main content

View Diary: Creating Jobs Is Not "Wasteful" (259 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Oregon has arts... (42+ / 0-)

    although places like Minneapolis and Chicago have more...

    The problem is I don't have money to go to the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Symphony, et cetera, and hundreds of thousands of poor oregonians don't either.

    The WPA subsidized art and didn't simply throw money at it. It became the first opportunity for many Americans to see plays or public murals or traveling art.

    That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

    by Nulwee on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 03:41:42 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's about jobs.... (35+ / 0-)

      It's about return on a stimulus investment....

      It's Econ 101.

      Representing 1.4 percent of the U.S. labor force, artists constitute a sizeable class of workers -- only slightly smaller than the total number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the U.S. military (2.2 million).

      In addition to artists, there are many more arts administrators who manage arts institutions including office staff such as accountants and booking agents, production staff such as stage managers, and artistic staff such as ballet masters and artist managers.

      According to research by Americans for the Arts, nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion in economic activity every year, support 5.7 million jobs, and return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year.

      "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

      by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 03:48:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  People are mistaking the difference between (25+ / 0-)

        giving money to business (which includes artists) and subsidizing it.

        Money for art should not be afraid to run at a loss, but it does need to do more than give money to artists. Otherwise it will be a hated, easily cut program. The New Deal was comprehensive, and I'm not sure that on the other side of the Reagan Revolution many of us realize how thorough it went.

        That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

        by Nulwee on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 03:53:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I happen to have known a WPA writer (35+ / 0-)

          And he used the WPA money to live on and write books.  He wound up teaching at several universities and won a Nobel prize.  If he hadn't had that money to live on back in the 30s and 40s,  his life would have been a lot different, and society as a whole, and he in particular, would have been the poorer for it.

          The Republican Party: the party of greed, hate, anger, fear, waste, death and destruction!

          by ultrageek on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 04:00:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Eudora Welty was a WPA photographer (0+ / 0-)

            who went on to more and different kinds of things later in life.  It was my pleasure to have seen her frequently before she died.  This was money well spent by the FDR administration.  Her bio is here.  There is also a Eudora Welty Foundation.

            Many WPA schools still stand in this area, although many are empty now or are being used for other things.

            It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

            by Otteray Scribe on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 04:09:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  The NEA today funds organizations... (28+ / 0-)

          ...that present the arts and revitalize, enliven, educate, and inspire their communities, just as the Harlem Community Art Center did under the New Deal.  No free handouts to artists, though artists (and the families they raise and support) are among the beneficiaries.  The confusion arises when anyone thinks the arts are a hobby that someone with a "real" job will do with all the free time he or she has.  

          The creators of the WPA understood this and hired people in the arts to chronicle the Depression, to write guides to the states, to record early American music, to paint murals in our schools.  The NEA also understands this and supports the 21st-century counterparts to those heroic efforts of the 1930s.

          "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

          by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 04:02:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've fought that attitude my whole... (42+ / 0-)

            adult life.  The arts are my "real" job.  I am a theatre tech director, designer, teacher, and also a photographer.  When will this country wake up to the importance of the arts?  Out of the so-called "civilized" world, this country does the least for it's arts and artists, and it is showing.  Arts and arts education is just as important as math, science, etc.  Most other countries already realize this.

            (-9.25, -6.62) Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both -- Benjamin Franklin

            by trs on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 04:06:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  My understanding is that a lot of the (7+ / 0-)

            information we have on what life under slavery was like for the slave comes from people wandering the country with very early tape recorders during the Great Depression.

            Can you see this inaugural, Dr. King? Did you see this?

            by Cassandra Waites on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 06:36:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is a right-wing myth... (8+ / 0-)

              ...going around these days that the New Deal kept America in the Depression.  It didn't.  FDR's cost-cutting in 1937, in response to critics of the New Deal then, did bring on a renewed recession.  The New Deal, in fact, worked, and worked well when it was most aggressive.  There's a reason every home in Appalachia was adorned with a photograph of Roosevelt.

              The WPA did, as you note, and as kossack Land of Enchantment has been diarying recently, collect the histories that were just on the verge of being lost forever.  They also built most of the architectural features of our parks, other civic buildings in towns across the nation, and roads and trails.  WPA actors performed in theaters in every community, WPA artists painted murals or produced prints and posters for a wider audience, WPA writers wrote the guides that are compelling reading even today.

              In just the fine arts alone, many of the artists we revere most highly today were WPA participants.  Indeed, the WPA was the single greatest force in breaking down the race barriers that had held back African-American artists up to that time, as black and white artists worked side-by-side in the arts workshops of Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago.  While much is made of the WWII-era exodus of European Surrealists to New York as a stimulus to American art, the truth is, without the support that the WPA provided in the 1930s this nation might not have gone on to become the cultural capital of the world in succeeding decades.

              "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

              by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 07:15:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Otteray Scribe

                ...going around these days that the New Deal kept America in the Depression.  It didn't.  FDR's cost-cutting in 1937, in response to critics of the New Deal then, did bring on a renewed recession.

                What would you say if I posited that his deficit spending in the New Deal created another bubble that collapsed when the deficit spending went away, that the economy could never have improved while being weaned  away from deficit spending? At what point do you pull the plug?

                I mean even now, it's easy to have a "great" economy when you're running a 6-7% trade deficit (i.e. other nations are sending you 6-7% of your crap for free). But how do you generate a sustainable economy without trade or government deficit?

                •  I probably wouldn't use your terminology,... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sparhawk

                  ...since it equates this with other types of bubbles, but yeah, pulling the funding away did cause the recession in 1937.  The point (I think -- I'm not an economist) is to ease away from such stimulus as the economy gains its legs with trade, etc.

                  I don't think that's what you wanted me to say, though.  I suspect you want to just let things run their course?

                  "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

                  by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:44:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I didn't really want you to say anything (0+ / 0-)

                    I just wanted you to consider the idea that it may not be possible to use deficit spending the way you suggest that FDR did. He deficit spent, then the economy looked like it was recovering, then he stopped, and it collapsed again.

                    The only way your scenario makes sense is if he should have spent longer deficit spending, or that he should have somehow done it differently. Since you can't deficit spend indefinitely, how do you deal with the situation.

                    I'm not a right-winger, I believe a lot of the same things you do, but this is a scientific matter that's not really political. Deficit-spending your way out of a recession either works, or it doesn't. Japan tried it, and it failed miserably, putting them massively in debt.

                    •  Like I said, I'm not an economist. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sparhawk

                      You'd be better off asking others more conversant than I about these things.

                      The point I was making is that we have to get past the right-wing mythology that all spending is bad, only more yummy tax cuts will be acceptable.  And that there were social changes that came with the New Deal (the slave accounts, the integration of workshops) that won't show up on balance sheets but have a significant beneficial impact on the nation.

                      "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

                      by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:04:55 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I completely agree (0+ / 0-)

                        It's just that I have a problem with this "spend to create jobs" mentality. You spend because you have a need, not because you need jobs. Jobs are a byproduct, and really, something that the government should try to minimize when it endeavors to do something, just like the private sector does.

                        I mean, Merkley's "we need to fix the forests" kick. That's great, but the logic should go, (a) we need forest maintenance, so (b) how can we accomplish this while minimizing the cost?

                        The logic shouldn't go (a) we need some jobs, what do we need done? (b) Oh, I guess those forests could be trimmed or whatever.

                        I mean, I'm sure that Oregon would love federal money coming in to do that work, just like everyone would. But the project has to make sense according to whatever criteria the government has for such things. "It'll create jobs in my district" doesn't cut it, since money is coming directly from taxpayers' pockets to do it.

                        •  Every one of those jobs has an impact... (0+ / 0-)

                          ...outside the immediate one of that job.  It permits economic activity in the community that would serve that individual.  It pays tuitions for the individual's college-age children.  It permits daycare so the spouse can seek other work to propel the economy forward on another leg.  It pays mortgages, so communities don't fall into disrepair and decline and crime.  No part of this stands alone.

                          "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

                          by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:26:55 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  All an illusion (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Onomastic

                            A job needs to actually generate real wealth, or else it isn't doing any of those things. It might "appear" to be allowing people to pay the mortgage or whatever, but that will only last until the artificial subsidy for the job is removed, then the job vanishes, and even worse, all the ancillary economic activity that's grown up to depend on that job (hairdressers, lawyers, etc) goes away as well, leaving you worse off than before!

                            This is exactly what happened in the housing boom, where our economy was built around a non-wealth-producing activity (furiously building excessive houses and selling them frenetically). When the artificial housing boom had played itself out, all the housing jobs go away... and so do lots of other ones created based on the economic environment that the housing market generated. In my view, this is exactly what is destined to happen in Obama's case when he is forced to stop because foreign lenders won't fund his programs anymore at a deficit because lots of them are non-value-add (I like parks, too, but to think that they add to the economy in a meaningful way is silly).

                            Real wealth creating jobs that are profitable on their own terms aren't dependent on artificial unsustainable stimulus to keep going. These are fundamental engineering, scientific, and manufacturing activities, and these are where wealth in a society is created. The government's job should be to foster a stable environment in which these activities can take place.

                          •  a few comments.. (0+ / 0-)
                            1. Re deficit spending and debt... We have had a significant contraction in the money supply due to the huge loses sustained by the banks and other organizations. If more money isn't introduced into the economy we will likely see deflation due to the sudden decrease of available funds. Perhaps the real solution here is to put an end to debt based money.

                            Real wealth creating jobs that are profitable on their own terms aren't dependent on artificial unsustainable stimulus to keep going. These are fundamental engineering, scientific, and manufacturing activities, and these are where wealth in a society is created. The government's job should be to foster a stable environment in which these activities can take place.

                            1. What about spending to solve problems that will greatly endanger us in the future in the event that they aren't addressed? For instance, if we develop new forms of alternative energy today and create infrastructure or it we have jobs indefinitely maintaining that infrastructure while also addressing the energy independence problem and starting to mitigate global climate change...  Some have said that dealing with the pending energy and climate crisis will require a society wide mobilization on par with WW2. Thus, we may find ourselves investing in our infrastructure at government expense for quite a while. The upside is that when this is done we will become truly a self-sufficient nation again.
                          •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                            Re deficit spending and debt... We have had a significant contraction in the money supply due to the huge loses sustained by the banks and other organizations. If more money isn't introduced into the economy we will likely see deflation due to the sudden decrease of available funds. Perhaps the real solution here is to put an end to debt based money.

                            We are already seeing deflation, because the "debt currency" part of the economy is gigantic in comparison to the actual amount of physical cash around. They already tried printing, it didn't help, and remember too that increasing the real number of dollars in circulation will drive up T-bill yields and crush our government's ability to fund its debt.

                            I'm ok with the monetary system the way it is... as long as it is kept under control.

                            What about spending to solve problems that will greatly endanger us in the future in the event that they aren't addressed? For instance, if we develop new forms of alternative energy today and create infrastructure or it we have jobs indefinitely maintaining that infrastructure while also addressing the energy independence problem and starting to mitigate global climate change...  Some have said that dealing with the pending energy and climate crisis will require a society wide mobilization on par with WW2. Thus, we may find ourselves investing in our infrastructure at government expense for quite a while. The upside is that when this is done we will become truly a self-sufficient nation again.

                            Sure, but these are all costs, is my point, the "jobs" angle is completely ancillary here. There is a lot of stuff the government does that is totally necessary, including infrastructure spending and doing whatever is supposed to be done about oil and climate change. I completely support spending in these areas, but not because it "creates jobs", but because we need to do it! The question is: how cheaply can we do it, not how many jobs can we make.

                            The only caveat here is that some of this stuff might be worth doing because it's a global need, so if we get ahead of everyone else in green tech, we can sell it to them, which puts us at a comparative advantage and is good.

                          •  A stable environment is exactly... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Onomastic

                            ...what is sought in the stimulus.  An end or at least a slowing to the deterioration of the economic fabric.

                            A response need not be only in "fundamental engineering, scientific, and manufacturing activities," as long as a decent percentage of those jobs are created.

                            "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

                            by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 11:02:06 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

          •  One of the best programs in our community is (5+ / 0-)

            a group that teaches ballet, flamenco and hip-hop to gang members. Many of them end up choosing dance as a career. The troupe becomes their new gang.

            And they're so good! It's lovely to see them perform. They bring joy to the entire community.

            "Big boss man..you ain't so big, just tall, that's all."

            by TheFatLadySings on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:06:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Parochial bourgeois nonsense (6+ / 0-)

          If you knew whereof you speak you would know that no government arts funding works in such a way. Even if you are a grant recipient you still have to go through an evaluative process that decides if the community benefits from your work. And yes, the community benefited from Karen Finley's work, to pick out the most often lampooned example. Sexuality was one of her themes. Deal with it, prigs.

          •  We're Talking About the Stimulus Here, Not NEA (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Norbrook

            kthnxbai.

            That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

            by Nulwee on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 04:14:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Additional funding for the NEA... (12+ / 0-)

              ...has been a hotly debated part of the stimulus.

              It's a $50 million request, in a bill that's now more than $900 billion.  Roughly 6/1000 of 1 percent of the funding package, to serve 1.4 percent of America's workers.

              If the NEA funding isn't in the bill that emerges from the Senate, it deserves to be in the one that emerges from the Conference Committee.  The only reason it's being debated is because the Republicans haven't moved beyond the culture wars of the 1980s.

              "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

              by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 04:29:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I just can't imagine ... (5+ / 0-)

                I see how much my child and his classmates enjoy art. I can't imagine that schools have to cut art teachers!

                "We will learn an enormous amount in a very short time, quite a bit in the medium term and absolutely nothing in the long term." Grantham on 2008 Crisis

                by Bronxist on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 06:02:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Art teachers most likely would come under... (10+ / 0-)

                  ...education funding, another element.  

                  Toward that end, it should be noted that there were several studies made during the Bush administration of the effects of No Child Left Behind.  Those studies proved consistently that art education improved test scores in reading and mathematics as well.  The students were more engaged in their studies.  

                  With those studies in hand, the Bush Administration then argued that its NCLB did not eliminate art teachers (technically, that's true: the districts eliminated those classes to pile up reading and math instruction for the tests) and that the art education should be pursued alongside the reading and mathematics that the program stressed.  No funding was forthcoming to rehire those teachers.  Art education continues to slide to this day.

                  "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

                  by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 06:21:41 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Culture Wars (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ArtSchmart, Onomastic

                The only reason it's being debated is because the Republicans haven't moved beyond the culture wars of the 1980s.

                The kind of treatment the NEH got under Lynn Cheney.

                That said Mrblifil's comment about federal grants was way out of line with talking about the need for public works of the kind the NEA and NEH have never done. He has no understanding of how the WPA worked and decided to lump a wide swath of people in with critics of Karen Finley, which I never brought up.

                Even the Federal Theater Project had similar morality critics.

                That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

                by Nulwee on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 07:04:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Agreed on Mme. Cheney. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TheFatLadySings

                  As for mrblifil's comment, I suspect that was an attempt to clarify how grants are awarded, since some confusion over that plagues discussions of the NEA to this day.  It's not so much the supporter of individual artists that it once was in its earliest years.  All grants, moreover, are peer-reviewed to steer the limited funding to the projects and organizations where it'll do the most good.

                  "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

                  by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 07:23:57 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  You say "bourgeois" like it's a bad thing. (5+ / 0-)

            Plenty of people wish they were "petty bourgeois" - it means they have a job and a house that isn't being foreclosed on.

            9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

            by varro on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 07:06:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Were the artists laid off? n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ArtSchmart, Santa Susanna Kid
        •  Artists and arts and support professionals... (6+ / 0-)

          ...from the arts organizations have been laid off during the current crisis at many institutions.  

          Some examples of the impact of the economic crisis on arts organizations follow.

          The Los Angeles Opera said today that it had laid off 17 employees, or approximately 17% of its staff. It has also mandated a pay cut for all employees, averaging 6% but with higher-paid staffers taking an 8% cut. (source: Los Angeles Times, 1/27/09)
          The Milwaukee Shakespeare Theater Company, a high profile regional nonprofit theater closed down operations in October. (source: report from the field)
          The Seattle Art Museum has cut back five percent of its staff and is facing a $3.8 million annual shortfall if it can't find a new tenant for the space Washington Mutual had been leasing from it. (source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1/25/09)

          Others have been being laid off over a longer term as a result of reduced funding to arts programs in the schools.  And some still manage to eke out an income but hardly enough to support themselves or their families, at a time when alternate employment opportunities are at their lowest.

          "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

          by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 06:30:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Contractors (i.e., freelancers) are also losing (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ArtSchmart, elsibiades, Onomastic

          their livelihood. In most organizations, the contractors are let go first.

          Many artists are paid by the project through contracts.

          Most major book publishers have ceased to accept new manuscripts unless you're Joe the Plumber or Sarah Palin.

          "Big boss man..you ain't so big, just tall, that's all."

          by TheFatLadySings on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:13:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Which is precisely why the Repubs don't support (28+ / 0-)

      these initiatives. It's not that they're "wasteful," and it's not even a question of creating jobs. It's that the jobs created fly in the face of their warped ideology.

      Arts programs encourage people to think and appreciate otherness - can't be having that.

      Healthy forestry saves hillsides from indiscriminate logging - can't be having that.

      Mass transit programs get people out of their cars and reduces oil industry profits - can't be having that.

      Money for war or Wall Street ... that's okay. For preservation, culture, education, community development ... not so much.

      To change ideas about what land is for is to change ideas about what anything is for. - Aldo Leopold

      by Mother Mags on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 03:54:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tell me about it. Itzhak Perlman plays at Seattle (5+ / 0-)

      Symphony soon. The cheapest seats? $98. The arts are not just for the well-off.

      "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it." ML King

      by TheWesternSun on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 06:23:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We have Timberline Lodge, Crater Lake Lodge (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ArtSchmart, Onomastic

      A park or two or three in every neighborhood in Portland - Thanks to WPA and other like projects. Roads and bridges, state parks from CCC. Oregon, and other states have a lot of proof of infrastructure building, economy stimulating projects.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site