In a market economy, those with socially valuable skills and abilities are monetarily rewarded in free exchange for their services or the goods that they produce. Those whose aptitudes do not fulfill some kind of broader demand or need are forced to either adapt or be willing to endure a life of self-imposed deprivation.
Foremost among such individuals who forego material enrichment for the sake of remaining true to their understanding of the craft to which they have pledged their lives are so-called “starving artists”. Such iconoclasts usually earn such designations because (unlike Norman Rockwell, Thomas Kincaid, or James Audobon) their work is so blatantly bizarre, bad, or depressing that no person with healthy aesthetic sensibilities is willing to support such individuals. And that is as it should be.
Yet, as with other issues such as education and with those who insist upon procreating outside of marriage, elected officials and social engineers are now planning to interfere with the wisdom of the invisible hand that keeps the artistic rabble in check by making sure their numbers do not proliferate beyond what a productive society can actually bear or reward them with more financial remuneration than they actually deserve. In an era when Americans are becoming increasingly concerned whether they will even have a retirement or be forced to end out their days as Wal-Mart scullions, Congress is authorizing $250,000 to finance affordable subsidized housing set aside specifically for piddlers categorized as artists.
According to the December 1, 2005 edition of the Gazette papers of Maryland, the Renaissance Square project is being funded in part by the 2006 Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia Appropriations Conference Report. This chunk of change is being funneled in part for the Prince George’s County Arts and Entertainment District, a blueprint through which to impose socialistic-style centralized planning in the name of community renewal.
But is it really the place of government to grant special subsidies or set asides for a particular class of individuals so they will be unduly advantaged in acquiring accommodation? A blighted urban community with a high crime rate would benefit if a few more ministers of the Gospel moved into the neighborhood as well or if local officials convinced more White folks to move in.
“OUTRAGEOUS, you hatemonger!!!! How dare you make such a reactionary suggestion.” Then why is it alright to lavish such favoritism upon those evangelizing on behalf of elites and bureaucracies?
In a market economy, such distasteful displays of prejudice in both example are largely avoided by having the government, for the most part, stay out of the unfettered exchange of goods, services, ideas and property. However, those administering such centralized development programs such as the Prince George’s County Arts and Entertainment District across the country do not think of themselves as bound by the same conventions and modes of conduct by which common folk are forced to comport themselves.
Good people loving freedom believe that, once an individual or business procures a piece of property, the owners should be allowed to retain it for as long as they desire. However, to the believers of the eminent domain heresy and related measures of intrusive social intervention, one is only allowed to occupy a given parcel of the COMMUNITY so long as one is utilizing it in a manner in accord with the collective purpose imposed by the ruling bureaucracy.
Propaganda supporting the Prince George’s County Arts and Entertainment District paints a peachy picture of the future where prosperity and creativity will walk together hand in hand. Ashame liberty and those not going along with the mandated vision of the future will have no place in it.
Social engineers plan to bring about the artistic district by establishing a series of art galleries and studio spaces. Thing is, many of the properties coveted by the Arts District are already owned by other businesses, primarily used auto dealers.
But in this enlightened and progressive post-Kelo world our overlords have granted us the privilege of existing in, why should we let a little thing like respect for private property stand in the way of grand utopian visions? If someone already holds title to a piece of property we want, simply manipulate the contrived rules of the game to confiscate what we covet all in the name and glory of the COMMUNITY.
It was only a ruling by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals that prevented the dealerships from being forced from the area without compensation. But what if the crafts commies had been willing to pay; why should the dealerships be forced to close up shop? More importantly, what’s going to protect the homes of the regular people who don’t exactly fit the mold of this Brave New World because the jobs they hold down just aren’t as sexy as the lifestyle of the starving artist?
To those overseeing the establishment of these special districts and those benefiting from their largesse, the masses of humanity exist as lab rats to be experimented on or (in the case of an arts district) as clay to be molded in compliance with all kinds of warped ideas. And if that makes your life inconvenient, those espousing this outlook contend, that’s just too bad as it is the revolution that must take top priority.
In a 3/5/06 Washington Post magazine article about the Arts District, one of the new feudal barons brought in to assist in the establishment of this postmodern fiefdom intimated that he “understands the voice of building materials (wonder if they’ve told him what a kook he is) and he promulgated, “I don’t like machine-made things. They look like they came from nowhere.”
I don’t know how things are there for King Friday in the Land Of Make Believe, but that’s just not how things are, as Allan Jackson might say, here in the real world. Frankly, it’s those evil machines that allow Americans to enjoy a standard of living envied around the world.
But that is irrelevant, as the Borg might say. The important thing is for the rest of us to comply with the artistic whims of our betters no matter how burdensome they might be. The elites might live as overlords in floating cities (hand-crafted of course) high above the earth and everyone else (granted the privilege of existence after the pending depopulation) in mud huts or military-style barracks but that will be perfectly acceptable so long as the COMMUNITY aesthetic is adhered to.
Over a decade ago, some of the first letters and commentaries I ever published dealt with a law in Hyattsville, Maryland that forbade residents from removing trees from their own yards without local government permission. With favored artisans moving in along the Route 1 business corridor thinking that the bricks are alive with the sound of music, how long until residents of this Maryland suburb are compelled to seek committee oversight as to what materials may be incorporated into their domiciles?
Don’t dismiss such speculations as the ravings of a madman. As well as the Arts District occupying the city, talk has been afoot the past few years of saddling residents with an additional layer of bureaucracy by imposing the historic district city wide.
Under such regulatory regimes, homeowners are essentially forbidden from making alterations to their properties without prior authorization. Thus, about the only thing from the past not welcomed are apparently the very liberties Americans have fought and died for over the course of the nation’s history and the only creativity welcomed that which strokes the egos of the ageing beatniks holding power.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.