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Mrs Romney campaigned for more opera. Her son wants to shut it down.

Toledo Opera has unearthed an extraordinary report about the Republican candidate’s mother, who was chair of the Detroit Grand Opera Association and campaigned vigorously to raise funds for the arts.

Her son campaign with equal vigour to have them killed off by abolishing the National Endowment for the Arts.

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  1. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from tree. In this case, there must have been quite a slope and that thing has rolled all the way to Utah! I personally don’t believe that Romney hates the arts. I DO believe that he has a weather-vane morality than will change according to whatever wind direction he thinks will get him elected. Can anyone name the cars manufactured by American Motors which was headed by Romney’s father. I think Jeep was one of them!

  2. When a person can turn his back so easily on the laudable values of his own parents (who must be turning in their graves over his ignorance towards the value of arts) – what other values are headed for the chopping block? For a Canadian, it is simply astounding to think that Romney is in the running for the top job down south – but the sad, scary part is: he is. And a polarized population that tends to vote for the same party, regardless of who is on the ticket, could very well put him in place. I can only BEG Americans to look past the party colors and flags – and simply keep this neanderthal out of the Oval Office. It will set the country back decades, in the area of cultural life and quality of life. “Gun culture, is not culture.”

  3. another orchestra musician says:

    Of the Republican Party our parents knew remains today, alas, but the nostalgia for it. Fortunately we do have an intellectually rigorous, fiscally conservative candidate running for President this year, one who has demonstrated extensive knowledge of modern history and that he understands humanism’s place in it. He’s the fellow on the Democratic ticket.

    • Ah yes, you mean the Democrat who just cut the NEA’s already paltry budget of $167.5 million in FY 2010 to $154 million in FY 2011 — a reduction close to 10%. Meanwhile, defense spending remains around 1.2 trillion, more than the next 20 countries combined, and with no candidate advocating any signifcant change in military or arts spending.

      • another orchestra musician says:

        Imagine the numbers were the Republican candidate to win, and follow through on his promise to increase defense spending, from its current, ex-Afghanistan/Iraq nominal 3.6% of GDP, to a minimum of 4%.

        Realistically, given how significant the military-industrial complex is economically, even an Obama administration isn’t likely to adjust the defense budget downward in more than modest increments. But if it’s unavoidable we should continue to build so many weapons, let’s at least avoid scrapping our social programs. Romney and his ilk have got the cash. They, and not our meagerly funded arts institutions, should be the ones paying down the debt.

  4. Jonathan Doe says:

    It pains me to say this because I’m a classical pianist and music scholar, but we can’t afford to fund NEA anymore. We are headed towards a financial collapse if we don’t start cutting government programs now.

    Each year, the government spends 1.3 trillion dollars more than it takes in. Because of this yearly deficit, the government continues to borrow money from China and other places to keep the US government functioning (paying for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, federal employees, the military, etc).

    The amount that we have borrowed and must pay back is almost $16 trillion (that is roughly $50,000 per citizen). And yet we can barely pay back the *interest* on that. This is unsustainable and cuts have to be made. If people are unemployed and social security money is gone, there will be no one to buy an opera ticket.

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      George W. Bush.

    • Mr. Doe,

      On the other hand, Romney supports more investments on armaments. In this case, do you also think that is an unnecessary expense? As you said, due to the critical economic situation.

    • William Safford says:

      @Jonathan Doe: There are a number of fallacies in how you framed your message and what you presented.

      If you are worried about the trillions of dollars of spending, then you should be worried about the deficit-compounding Bush tax cuts, military spending, unfunded wars, and other real threats to the deficit, not the NEA.

      Worrying about the NEA is like a husband and wife being worried about making mortgage payments on their million-dollar house, so they decide not to buy a compact disc this year. The CD isn’t the issue, its effect on the budget is smaller than a rounding error in their budget, and choosing not to buy it may make the couple feel good about pinching pennies without addressing the real fiscal issues facing them (whatever they may be).

      Another fallacy: Anyone who tells you that Social Security is gone is either lying to you, or repeating someone else’s lies without critically examining the facts.

      In fact, Social Security won’t be gone, unless conservatives succeed at dismantling it.

      Current projections indicate that Social Security is fully solvent until about 2036 to 2041, when the trust fund will be depleted. After that, SSI will be able to pay out 3/4 of the benefits that it should. That is far from ideal, but it is not insolvency. A few tiny tweaks done right now could easily keep SSI solvent until the next century — but there is not the political consensus to do this right now.

      This is not a Social Security blog, so I’ll get back to music, and politics directly relevant to music.

      Right now we face a choice between a Presidential candidate under whose Administration the NEA continues to exist, vs. a Presidential candidate who is on the record as wanting to eliminate the NEA. The Democratic Party is not opposed in principle to government funding of the arts, whereas the current Republican Party wants to dismantle all sorts of government programs including the NEA.

      We Americans have choices to make in the voting booths in November. People should keep these facts in mind as we cast our ballots.

      • What we see is the usual political theater. For over 30 years (from Reagan onward,) the Republican candidates have vociferously said they would dismantle the NEA but they haven’t. In fact, once elected they even gave it small increases. It is likely that Romney will follow a similar pattern (no increases, but no elimination either.)

        During the same period, the Democratic candidates said they would increase the NEA, but haven’t done so in any meaningful way, and Obama has even reduced it. In actual practice, all we have gotten in elections is a sort of meaningless theater that gives us no real choice.

        • William Safford says:

          I view it slightly differently, although what you wrote is certainly part of the equation.

          Over the years there has been a tug of war over arts funding, with different factions competing to promote or challenge it, subject to shifting alliances and a changing political landscape.

          Sometimes the factions align with liberal/conservative norms, other times not.

          For example, the NEA did fairly well under Nixon, since he genuinely liked classical music, and he viewed supporting the NEA as throwing a bone to liberals.

          In the ’90s there were the culture wars, with conservative opposition coalescing around controversial art projects.

          Now, with the reactionary movement in far-right circles, there is an existential threat to the existence of arts funding. For them, it’s not primarily about budget or deficit; it’s about the validity of the role of government in our polity. If they gain political power, watch them attack programs such as the NEA.

          Right now, Republican efforts to eliminate programs such as NEA are thwarted by Democrats.

          Efforts to expand them are thwarted by Republicans.

          Neither is committed strongly enough, or wants to commit the political capital, to accomplish either. So, nothing much happens.

          The end result is stasis.

          Plus, political theater is part of the equation.

          (This is very simplistic, and glosses over many details.)

          What we currently lack is a committed advocate for the arts from a politician on a national level. (Is there someone out there who has escaped my attention?)

        • As the famous saying goes:

          “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money…”

        • Greg Hlatky says:

          Several conclusions can be made from this.
          One: no wonder what some White House flunky says, The Smartest Man in the World (“He’s sort of God” – Evan Thomas, Newsweek) isn’t any more interested in expanding Federal funding for the arts any more than any of his predecessors.

          Two: insofar as the NEA’s budget has been neither vastly expanded nor eliminated completely, it’s clear that there’s a bipartisan consensus on the order of magnitude that Congress is willing to fund the arts.

          Three: that this situation has gone on, more or less unchanged, for several decades shows that the public doesn’t really care enough about it to change it.

  5. The power of music will always survive even when the politicians and their lies have fallen by the wayside!

  6. Politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.

    –Frank Zappa

  7. Jaye Baldwin says:

    You’re being disingenuous, Mr. Lebrecht: wishing to end federal support of a a thing is not the same as wishing to end the thing itself.

    I wish to end funding for the NEA (among other federal agencies that are overly bureaucratic and make allocations contrary to my wishes as a U.S. taxpayer) but I support our local first- and second-tier orchestras and the local opera company. The positions are not mutually exclusive.

  8. What I find interesting, not that I don’t enjoy the ‘Arts, I do very much, but the Romneys are so concerned about that and not about people who have worked all their lives, only to become disabled and unable to continue. Being forced to depend on Medicare and disability in order to remain living a somewhat humane life.

    Mrs. Romney has blasted those people, (her 47% comment), and wants to stop those government fundings. She would rather continue going to the ‘opera’ and letting children in America starve and the people, (whom I mentioned above, her 47%), end up on the streets, (if not already), and people dying because they can’t afford doctors/hospitals any more. Forget about affording any kind of insurance; health, life, auto and home owners.

    But don’t worry, Mrs. Romney, Mr. Romney and all the republicans, you can still go to your opera and parties, you can still have your luxury cars and homes, cared for by poorer Americans, by the way, and you can still close your eyes to the real needs of the American people. While you blast insults to your 47% without knowing anyone’s particular situation. Just go ahead and assume everyone is lazy, not wanting to be gainfully employed, wanting to live off of government programs, and staying in the low income bracket because they are on the government programs. Some even enjoy living in card board boxes, just so they don’t have to work! Yes, there are many Americans that don’t have pride, because they lost it long ago, when republicans were in office.

    You are right, Mrs. Romney, “those people will vote for President Obama” again, because the worst thing they can do is vote for another republican! Not much option there! Even though President Obama wants everyone to have health insurance, is he willing to pay for their health insurance? No, just shove it down their throats, make it a law and then watch them starve to death, continue to live in card board boxes, starve their children, ruin their health, just for the politicians ease of mind. Where will these people get the money to pay for health insurance, huh?

    And, regarding the ‘Arts’, if so concerned for the Arts, as you claim, what ever happened to children getting music and art in grade schools? Yes, those are the first things that were cut, not the opera! Where do you think the talented people of today got started? They were all children too, but they had the “Arts” in grade school, which started them on the path to great operas, ballets, the theater, etc.! So, why don’t you think of putting the “Arts” back in the schools, maybe there wouldn’t be so many street gangs, etc. in this country. The public schools’ budgets shouldn’t be a concern to anyone in public office, they have wars to think about.

    Just take a look at other countries, if nothing else. We fall way behind in the “Arts” and in education, itself. Including feeding the children. For if they go to school hungry, they can’t learn as well as the well-fed children in private schools, now can they?

    Please excuse my errors in this writing. I personally experience what I’ve written above, I know many people in
    America who do want to be useful but can no longer be so, due to their bad health and circumstances. I’m not just talking about the disabled, I’m talking about the disabled who are totally unable to be humane, to be useful to anyone, not even for themselves. Open your eyes, really look around, for those are the silent ones, suffering in quiet, children and adults.

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