February 2, 2018 – Government Waste Erodes Our Freedoms, Part III:
National Endowment for the Humanities
Every time we pay our taxes, we sacrifice a little of our liberty to the federal government. When those taxpayer dollars are then blatantly wasted, the loss of freedom really stings.
What is the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)?
NEH was created as an independent federal agency in 1965, and has become one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. Each year, NEH gives grants to museums, archives, libraries, universities, public television, radio stations, and individual scholars. Since 1965, NEH has funded 7,000 books, supported 56,000 lectures, discussions, and exhibitions, and aided in the development of countless documentaries and cultural resources.
What sort of projects are they funding?
Here is a VERY small sampling of the grant announcements from 2017. These few total $1 MILLION!
- $400,000 for preparation of volumes 9 and 10 of the selected papers of inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931), covering the period 1888-1892. Similarly sized grants have been given for creation of the preceding volumes, now totaling more than $4.5 million.
- $250,000 for creation of a traveling exhibition and public programs exploring the historical and ecological contexts of Georgia O’Keeffe’s commercial art commission by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (today known as Dole Food Company, Inc., the largest producer of fruit and vegetables in the world) in the late 1930s.
- $150,000 for The Hemingway Legacy Initiative, a series of projects that seek to preserve Hemingway’s Idaho home and library through educational outreach.
- $60,000 for development of a traveling exhibition and companion book on the lifeways and history of the people associated with the Bristol Bay, Alaska salmon fishery.
- $60,000 for the expansion of a touring conference that explores the unique cultural landscapes and historic destinations of the state of Montana.
- $40,000 to plan a bilingual traveling exhibition about the Dia de los Muertos festival and its history in Mexico and the United States.
- $40,000 to create a permanent exhibition examining the role of horse-drawn vehicles in American life in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
While each of these projects, and the many others funded by NEH, may be worthwhile in their own right, it is unjustifiable that taxpayers are on the hook for them. Instead, the great thinkers behind these projects should judge the demand for them and seek private funding from those wishing to see their creation. To restore fiscal discipline, we should only use taxpayers’ dollars for federal government responsibilities as outlined in the constitution.
What am I doing about it?
In 2017, Congress appropriated nearly $150 million to the NEH. Given our $20 trillion national debt and that fact that we will add an additional $1 trillion to the debt this year, continuing to provide funding to the NEH is astounding to me. That is why I am introducing a bill to defund the agency.
Total Cost to Arizona Taxpayers: $3,218,266
Cumulative Cost to Arizona Taxpayers of “Freedom Friday” Government Waste: $207,503,975, or $80.42 per household.