Tomorrow is for tonight’s forgiveness

My mind is in several places right now. I’m building my own business, which involves diverse work. I’m working on Arts Advocacy day stuff, including research and planning in preparation for the day: March 31. I’m working on a dance show – All Good Men – which I’ve blogged about before. And at the same time I’m trying to get my head back into what was my masters thesis (which will be out soon as a book) cause I need to get a few articles together so I can, eventually, make money off of the publication.

The basic idea I’m working on is an environmental idea. It’s about how we understand the natural world. Do you ever think that western medicine is kind of messed up, the way it treats the body as a machine? Lots of people think that way — it’s why holistic medicine has gotten so big. Lots of people also think the way we relate to nature is whack.

The way we relate to nature, and the way we relate to the body are one and the same.

Does this matter? It’s an idea. Not a unique idea. But an idea. How we relate to the body is representative of how we relate to the rest of the world.

quote_compassionI remember in Macro class as an undergrad discussing savings rates. We were looking at (even back then) rising deficit, and trade deficit, and how individual savings patterns are mirrored in government spending. My teacher was saying that while hypothetically we don’t want lots of debt, the last thing we want is for people to ever start spending less. While there is an ‘ideal’ savings rate, and a ‘safe’ savings rate, if people ever start saving more they are spending less – which is bad for the economy.

You can have a clear idea. You can know how it works, but then you can also see and decide what you should do. Not exactly sure where I’m going with this…. I wrote in an earlier post that looking at graphs of rising deficits is like looking at graphs of rising green house gasses. It’s really easy to feel like they don’t matter. Cause they don’t right now. Social security, greenhouse gasses, nuclear war…

One of the arguments against Kyoto, and raising cafe (fuel) standards is that ‘we can’t afford it’. Or, ‘they can’t afford it’. At some point, if all these theories are right, we will pay for it. Probably more all at once than we would like. It’s a bit like shoving a whole bunch of tunafish in a pillow. Sooner or later, you’re gonna have a really stinky mess.

It’s amazing to me that they are saying maybe this latest stimulus won’t be enough. Enough for what? Enough for whom? We live in a world that is constantly achieving new balance points. It never stops. Like our bodies, moving with our breath, and our hearts, moving our blood every moment we’re alive, the world moves.

We know we can’t afford to spend the way we are. We know we can’t use energy the way we are. There is very simple economic data that tells us this. The market evolves, and when the internal combustion engine develops, the people who make carriages are screwed. Here, and now, we can choose to let the economy crash, soundly, and with some grace, or we can….

Sooner or later we pay for stupid decisions. “Tomorrow is for tonight’s forgiveness” I wrote in a bad poem a few years ago. Clear ideas are guideposts that can help us know how it all works. But even if we do know how it works, there is still the matter of how it is actually gonna work. I appreciated Warren Buffet’s statement a few months ago that, “when others are scared be bold. when others are bold, be scared.” But I think maybe he was just working for the fed when he wrote it.

Stimulating Arts

As many, I was so pleased to see that in the 600 Billion dollar stimulus that the Congress passed last week, 200 million goes to the arts. 200 million of 600 Billion. Not bad?

Of course, $150 million of that is for building repairs/upgrades at the Smithsonian. I love the Smithsonian. I’m a fan of the Smithsonian on Facebook. Love em. But we have to recognize the difference between supporting the arts, and supporting buildings, or organizations related to the arts.

Garth BrooksI happened across an article recently about Garth Brooks. The top-selling recording artist in history is donating to the Smithsonian:

his first gold record and cassette he received for the 1989 album “Garth Brooks”; handwritten lyric sheets for the song, “Beaches of Cheyenne” showing his revisions, a Takamine brand guitar, which Brooks smashed during his first NBC television special, “This Is Garth Brooks,” filmed in the Dallas in September1991; elements of a typical stage outfit, consisting of a Mo’ Betta shirt, black Wrangler jeans, black elephant-skin cowboy boots, a belt and a black Stetson Tyler cowboy hat with a label on the interior brim reading “made especially for Garth Brooks.”

This reminds me of the difference between the for-profit and the not-for-profit arts economies. Without judging Mr. Brooks, can’t we all admit that a new pavilion for his stuff is not really supporting the arts?

The stimulus money is in no way directly or in-directly related to the donations by Mr. Brooks. And as part of this country’s history I’m fine that Brooks’ stuff is at the Smithsonian. But I’d be fine if they were at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Vegas, or the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Arts need support. $150 million for buildings out of $200 for the arts sucks, period. Not uncommonly, that 50 million – out of 600 Billion – has been particularly in the news as a sign of Democrats run amok. Artists and supporters of the arts need to give politicians their support as this goes to the senate. Supporting the Arts in the stimulus IS supporting the economy. NPR noted:

Arts groups large and small are hurting, just like every other industry: The Sacramento Ballet has canceled performances; the administrative staff of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra took a 20 percent pay cut; the Austin Museum of Art is postponing plans for a new museum downtown.

Some art institutions are shutting down altogether: The Milwaukee Shakespeare Theater Company is one example. The company closed its doors in October when its main supporter – the Argosy Foundation – cut its funding.

Michael KaiserThe NPR piece continues, quoting Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser who stated:

“The arts as a totality in this country employs 5.7 million people,” Kaiser says, “so we’re not a small sector of this economy. Our employment levels are important to this economy.”

Garth Brooks and the for-profit arts center will be fine through this time. But for the existing arts sector not to go down we need more public arts funding, because private funding is down. Stimulating arts, and the arts economy, requires funding. This should be in the stimulus, not apologetically, but because it makes economic, and art, sense.