That damn phone jack bothers me.
I see it literally every day of my life and it just bothers me. It’s there doing nothing. It will never be used again. It is obsolete. And yet it wasn’t that long ago when we had to make allowances for where the “phone would go” in any given room.
Now, that plastic covered wire center is nothing more than a relic of the distant past. We haven’t used a land line, connected to phone cables, in years. And every time I look down at that thing it gets me thinking …
Why isn’t there a “Phone Research Endowment” in the government? Or, the P.R.E. (it’s all about the acronym). Why don’t we have to stand in line and have congressional hearings to get funding for phone development? Why don’t we have to apply for grants and fill out paper work in triplicate and cross our fingers that we got the wording right in our dissertations? Why don’t we hold national referendums and vote on which direction phone technology will go?
The answer is simple, really. Phones are doing just fine without the government. Yes, communication is regulated to a degree. But while we are barking and marching and protesting everything under the sun, we’re texting our friends to make sure they meet us at the designated protest site. Then we’re Tweeting where we are and what we’re doing. We’re posting pictures of our protest to Instagram and Face Booking live our utter disdain for this or that.
Yes, while we’re arguing back and forth about politics and all things related to it, phones are quietly changing the world. So, why aren’t they funded by the government? Because they don’t need to be.
The President’s new budget came out this week and the gasps could be heard all around the country. To be fair, I haven’t read it. And to be fairer …I don’t actually need to. I’m absolutely certain he’s cutting things that are making people livid. There is life and death in that budget. I get it.
But here’s the thing …
Conservatives often get labeled as “monsters” and “inhumane” and (my personal favorite) “draconian” (although I defy anyone to define that word without Google.)
The buttoned-down white guy with the fresh haircut and boring suit is often made to look like Satan incarnate, when he proposes a governmental budget cut. Kids aren’t going to get lunch. Grandma is going to die. Things aren’t going to get funded. But he’s DEFINITELY giving his “fat cat” friends a tax cut. That’s for sure!
If you see a government’s budget through that prism, you’re not alone. Many people do. And I totally understand your anger. But I keep going back to those phone jacks …
The thing is this: just because someone believes the government shouldn’t fund something, doesn’t mean they believe it shouldn’t be funded. Let me explain …
I’ve always been for de-funding the NEA. That’s weird because I live and breathe in the arts. Why on earth would I want art to be DE-funded?!?! That doesn’t make any sense. Does it?
The thing is art was funded just fine before the NEA was put in place, in 1965. The Beatles’ “Help” got made. Yesterday got written. Elvis recorded Hound Dog. Frank Sinatra recorded Come Fly With Me. Annie Get Your Gun was produced. Rhapsody In Blue was composed. Hank Williams lived, wrote and died. Citizen Kane (ranked one of the greatest films in history on EVERY recognized list) was shot. James Brown made records. Aretha Franklin made records. Jackson Pollock dribbled on canvass. There was art …BEFORE the National Endowment of the Arts was ever even thought about. Why? Because the genius of the free market had allowed it to happen.
I not only want art to be made, I want it to be FREELY made and as unconstrained as possible. In China I remember hearing about how the state owns all intellectual property …including copyrights. And my heart sank. That is the end game for those who want a safe artistic space. Government funded art is always suspect to me.
I understand the funding of school bands and local art centers and things of that nature. But there is nothing in our society that the NEA COMPLETELY funds. So when it comes to government funded art, if there’s not enough …there’s too much. Let the project find its own legs and its own way. And let the government stay out of it. That’s MY opinion.
As we debate this upcoming budget, I keep seeing that stupid phone jack in my living room and remembering: just because the government doesn’t fund it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get funded. And THAT’S the essence of the conservative view point.
Do I want art funded? Absolutely! It’s my life’s blood. But I keep seeing Mozart standing at the mercy of Emperor Joseph II, as he tells him, “there are too many notes.” THAT’S what happens when the government funds your anything. Some duly elected official tells you you’ve written too many notes. No thanks.
I believe the concept of “other” funding can apply to science and healthcare and a half dozen other things we think can only be funded out of Washington DC.
Sometimes well-meaning friends of mine tell me I should run for office. I always tell them no I shouldn’t. When they ask why, I give them the same answer: “Because you probably wouldn’t vote for me.”
And the reason is I would lobby to de-fund a lot of stuff I think could be more efficiently funded OUTSIDE of the government sphere. On the surface it would look like I didn’t care about such things surviving. But the truth is I would be setting them free to find greener and more creative pastures outside the government prison.
You see, I love texts and siri and tweeting and updated posts and all of the things we do on our phones …that are not funded by government. And I would love to see how cool everything else in our life could become if we found a way to fund it in a way that didn’t involve tax dollars.
If you’re reading this on your phone, maybe you would too …whether you know it or not.