A British View of Obama

A very interesting, overseas take on President Obama's first week in office from The Sunday Times:

The Republicans are in fighting mood after Obama failed to secure a single vote on their side for his $819 billion financial stimulus package in the House of Representatives, despite intensive wooing.

The bill came laden with spending on Democratic pet projects, including $50m for the arts and $400m for global warming research that critics said had little to do with boosting the economy. It also contains “buy American” protectionist provisions that have alarmed trading partners, including Britain.

Obama is striking back with an audacious bid to acquire a “liberal super-majority”, giving the Democrats untrammelled power in the White House, the Senate and House of Representatives. He hopes to appoint Judd Gregg, a Republican senator, as commerce secretary, leaving Gregg’s Senate seat at the disposal of the governor of New Hampshire, a Democrat.

Read the rest here.

One point I'd like to quibble with: There is an art industry just like there is an entertainment industry. But unlike the movie business, the art world isn't recession-proof; people are losing their jobs left and right. Therefore, I can assure everyone that $50 million for the arts is not a "pet project"; spending on the arts will directly stimulate the economy.

Even if they were to give all the money to, say, someone super-established like Richard Serra there would still be a stimulative effect: he employs assistants, buys supplies, builds crates, ships art works, and attracts visitors and money to galleries, museums, book stores etc. who all have employees (for the time being). And, since we're talking Serra here, he quite literally employs steel workers. One way of thinking about this nifty video is that all the people running around in time-lapse wouldn't have jobs without Richard Serra:

I'm no economist, but I'm pretty sure we could put 50 million art dollars to work in Los Angeles alone.


Michael Lieberman said...

I'd like to lobby for at least $500 going to Binghamton.

Guy Benjamin Brookshire said...

I think the nation should beware the government falling under the sway of an art-industrial complex.