If you had $50,000 to take care of your expenses for a year—car payments, mortgage, food, utilities, the occasional night out—would you be able to afford $10.00 to read a paperback? or see a local theater group perform? or watch a documentary on PBS?
Ten dollars would be 1/5000th of your budget, .02%, and while there may be days when bills pile up and you don’t feel very positive about your financial situation, there aren’t that many when you would worry about ten bucks—about the minimum you’d spend in a fast food restaurant on two meals (or one-and-a half) or in Starbucks on two coffee-like beverages.
Think in those terms when you read about Trump’s plans to eradicate the budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Total savings? About $750 million. A tidy sum, agreed, but the total spending by the government during a fiscal year is just under four trillion dollars. That’s the number four with 12 zeroes after it. A million million. Sometimes the numbers become unfathomable, but remember the $10.00 you probably wouldn’t miss at McDonald’s? The .02% of your budget? Well that’s the same percentage Trump wants to cut from the federal budget—.02%.
Why do it? Because he can. Because the war against culture is waged in the same manner as the war against the press—discredit, strangle, and eliminate. And I don’t mean Trump’s attack on Meryl Streep because she called him out publicly a month or so back, or his ongoing war with SNL because they hit a little too close to home. It’s more subtle than that.
➡Every time PBS broadcasts a story on climate change, it becomes more difficult to convince people it’s a hoax.
➡Every time the evening news singles out an immigrant whose contributions to society have been measureless, it becomes more difficult to convince people that he’s a murderer or rapist.
➡Every time a feature chronicles the struggle of a Muslim in America and documents her success, it becomes more difficult to convince people she’s a terrorist.
Trump, Bannon, Miller, et al. realize that the longer we remain in the dark, the easier it is for a corrupt government to lie to us. It’s a bright light that scatters the roaches. If this administration can shift $750 million to military spending and dupe frightened Americans into thinking they’re safer as a result, while at the same time cutting off their access to intellectual and artistic pursuits, it’s money well shifted. Another half dozen F-35s? I feel more secure already.