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Letter to Congress - Transience Divine
February 23rd, 2011
09:31 pm

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Letter to Congress

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From:jrising
Date:February 25th, 2011 02:03 am (UTC)
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First off, this isn't going to directly affect me. My funding is plenty secured, and if these changes even affect my program at all, it would only be by some trickle-down affect.

This isn't about supporting a few film studies students. The scope of programs supported by the Javits is enormous, including psychology, history, archaeology, and political science. Without a dedicated pot of money, you're absolutely right that all of the fed's grants are going to go to fields like science and medicine. That seems completely backwards to me: people who go into STEM-type fields have no problem making money.

And these aren't frivolous students-- it's very competitive: Javits is awarded to about 50 new students a year, or .0004% of the US's grad student population. Coincidentally, that's the same percentage of the federal budget which was going to the scholarship. MIT made a 1%-to-the-arts commitment, and it wasn't very well spent, but that's the kind of responsibility that I think we as a society have support humanities.

I know you don't think that you should be paying the average 3 cents a year to officially recognize in the federal government that we care about something other than the military and required programs, but I do.
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From:little_e_
Date:February 25th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
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I do art, where's my free money? (This is particularly galling since it's actually true.) In fact, I have lots of projects which I think would benefit humanity, but no one is giving me free money for any of them.

You ought to know by now that I think the military ought to be shut down. But that doesn't excuse taking money that I could use on my art projects and giving it to other people for their art projects. Their projects aren't better or more important than mine just because they're in a university and I'm not. That's not 'supporting the humanities'. That's classism.

The world does not need more Vanishing Horizons. The gov't is having Serious Budget Issues due to overspending on stupid shit like the Iraq War and grinding the economy into the dirt, and they are trying to cut stuff that actually matters, like funding to health care providers for poor people and daycare for little kids, and I'm supposed to feel sorry for some privileged kids who want to do art?

One reason the economy is in such bad shape right now is because we have convinced millions of young people to waste their time and money on degrees they don't need (and often don't deserve) simply because employers are too lazy to come up with a better measure of competence than "did you graduate from college?" People believe that a degree--in anything--is a magic ticket to a better life. It's not. As a society, we should be extremely cautious about encouraging people to spend so much time and money on a degree that, as you note, will not benefit them.

You don't need a fancy degree to do art. You don't need funding. You don't need to be part of a fancy institution and you don't need the federal gov't to support you. All you need is a basic standard of living and the desire to do art. All society needs to do to support the arts is to do art. What we don't need is the gov't furthering the idea that some of us are Artists and deserve to be paid for what we do, and the rest of us suck.
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