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What Do Americans Cherish?

Updated on March 3, 2017

What Is America For?

What Is America For?

The New York Times of 2/27/17 reports that Donald Trump wants to increase the budget for the military by $54 billion and slash the budget by a comparable amount. Trump wants to cut spending on many of the federal government’s most politically sensitive programs — relating to education, the environment, science and the arts.

Trump's first 2018 budget proposal is going to suggest slashing funds to clean up pollution from the Great Lakes by 97 percent. The target of Trump's budget is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is receiving $300 million in funding. Grants to tribes, climate programs, industrial cleanups, lead cleanups, and efforts to police pollutions would all see steep cuts in the Trump proposal. ...

And while Trump says increased military spending will reassert America's strength, the United States already is the world's 800-pound gorilla. In 2015, it was responsible for more than one third of all military spending on the planet. China and Russia, the United States' main military competitors, don't even come close. The Defense Department is still getting more money than it has at any time since the end of World War II. Its 2016 budget was more than $600 billion.

Of particular interest to me is that Donald Trump’s team is considering cuts to the federal agencies that support the arts, humanities, and public broadcasting that are truly astonishing. Under the Team Trump’s plan, the non-profit Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports public television, public radio, and PBS, would be privatized. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which offer grants for artistic and educational productions, exhibitions, research, and more, would be eliminated entirely.

The CPB, the largest source of funding for public radio, television, and related online and mobile services in the country, receives $445 million a year from the federal government, which constitutes just .001 percent of the total federal budget. The NEA receives $148 million a year, or .0003 percent of the total federal budget. It funds a wide variety of artistic productions, exhibitions and programs.

If you care about your local theatre, symphony, or downtown museum, NEA funding is likely involved.

What is America for? It doesn’t seem to be for museum attendance, which has witnessed a decline in recent years. It doesn’t seem to be for attending classical music concerts, which are attended by 8% of Americans. It doesn’t seem to be for attending art galleries and museums, about 20% do that. It doesn’t seem to be for buying jazz albums; about 2% of Americans do that. It doesn’t seem to be for culturally enlightening movies because since 1940, “action films” are the only genre that has steadily risen. These are films that blow things up.

So what is America for? A typical article reads, “As mainstream universities and colleges cut liberal-arts courses and programs in favor of more vocational disciplines, and the number of students majoring in the humanities continues to decline.” So America doesn’t seem to be for the humanities.

America seems to be for the military. The U.S. hasn’t won a real competitive shooting war since 1945. Even after the U.S. government spent trillions of taxpayer dollars on misguided wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans still view the men and women who wear the uniforms favorably: A recent Gallup poll found that 73 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in the U.S. military. More Americans trust the Military than any other institution in the U.S. 2nd most trusted institution in America is the police. The National Rife Association has a majority support of Americans, at 54%. The vast majority of American institutions don’t have majority support.

What is America for? I think it’s self evident. Bang!


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