If potential patrons are unwilling to spend money to visit the art museum, why should Pennsylvanians be taxed to support them?

From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:


Full-price Sundays back at Art Museum¹


By Jennifer Lin, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Jackie Hanks, here for the weekend from Corpus Christi, Texas, was all set to take a quick spin through the Philadelphia Museum of Art yesterday with her husband and their two boys.

That is, until she got to the entrance and found that it would cost $32.

Hanks was disappointed to learn that the museum has curtailed its Sunday “pay-what-you-wish” policy, which she had read about in a tourist magazine.

Without enough time to spend, the family passed on the museum.

“When I read in the magazine that the museum was free on Sundays, I thought, ‘How cool is that?’ ” Hanks said. “But we don’t have enough time, and for that price, I just said no.”

In a sign of the times, the Art Museum has scaled back its reduced admissions on Sundays. Now, only the first Sunday of the month is “pay what you wish.” Other days, it’s pay what we ask: $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for teenagers. Children 12 and under are still free.

Yesterday was the first Sunday for the new policy.

The museum announced last month that the economic crisis was forcing it to change its approach to ticketing and raise rates across the board by $2. The last increase was in 2007.

Can you give me one good reason why hard-working Pennsylvanians should be taxed to support museums if the potential patrons aren’t interested enough in them to shell out a few bucks to get in?

Everybody wants things, but it doesn’t seem like people are willing to pay for them.
_______________________
¹ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Monday, 13 July 2009, p. B-1

30 Comments

  1. That’s a great principle, Dana – every government function should be user pays.

    They should hold a subscription drive the next time your Navy wants an aircraft carrier. Can you give me one good reason why hard-working Pennsylvanians should be taxed to support naval ships if people aren’t interested enough in them to shell out a few bucks for them voluntarily?

  2. There is no substitute for an aircraft carrier (or a gun) when you really need them.

    Far too many of our “works of art” are trendy bullshit. Should one penny of taxpayer money gone to fund ‘Piss Christ’? How about all that stuff by Warhol? Trendy but forgettable.

  3. Art, I know you have problems keeping track of conversations, but do try to pay attention.

    Dana’s principle is that taxpayers should not pay for stuff they, individually, do not want through collective taxation. Why should this apply only to museums?

  4. A museum is not a necessity such as infrastructure, public safety, and a military.

    There are some nutty pacifists who whine about the cost of some hardware but our Constitution mandates such expenditures. We live in a world that is dangerous.

  5. “Can you give me one good reason why hard-working Pennsylvanians should be taxed to support museums if the potential patrons aren’t interested enough in them to shell out a few bucks to get in?”

    You are talking about an “art” museum, right?

    Well, look on it as a kind of work-fare for librarian type aesthetes: A specially created ecological niche within a given political population for the benefit of those gliding church ladies of either sex.

    Keeps them off the street, and their publicly owned rice bowls full.

    One day, voluntary prenatal screening will probably eliminate the problem.

  6. “There is no substitute for an aircraft carrier (or a gun) when you really need them.”

    Do you mean to say Art, that quivering indignation and a print of Picasso’s Guernica won’t do the trick?

    Oh, the suffering hoomanity …

    Poor Che. So full of holes, so dead, in Bolivia.

  7. Everybody wants things, but it doesn’t seem like people are willing to pay for them.

    Congratulations, you just summed up the entire problem with our budget policy. Bush wanted a war but wasn’t willing to pay for it. Obama wants health care but isn’t willing to pay for it. Screw it, just make the kids pay for it, right?

  8. A museum is not a necessity such as infrastructure, public safety, and a military.

    Alas for your attempt to argue, Art, an aircraft carrier is not a necessity, and America is otherwise failing to pay for its infrastructure.

    Apart from Art’s feeble attempt, I notice nobody else has actually tried answering the question – can you give me one good reason why hard-working Pennsylvanians should be taxed to support naval ships if people aren’t interested enough in them to shell out a few bucks for them voluntarily?

    I can understand that DNW is too frightened to address it after being so badly spanked last time he tried to argue, but would you care to give it a try, Dana?

  9. Phoenician: ” I can understand that DNW is too frightened to address it after being so badly spanked last time he tried to argue …”

    I thought you might by now have gotten over the hurt that came with my demonstration that your Stan Dorn link, contained a hollow argument. Apparently not, as your petulant attempt to rework history reveals.

    That said, princess, what your arguments lack in logical rigor, and you in critical sense, you almost make up for with that brazen Phoenician-in-an-etc.-etc. theatricality.

    And now, since Art has already disposed of your attempt to draw an analogy between warships and art museums …

  10. can you give me one good reason why hard-working Pennsylvanians should be taxed to support naval ships if people aren’t interested enough in them to shell out a few bucks for them voluntarily?

    Because the Constitution provides for the funding of the military. It doesn’t say anything at all about funding art museums.

  11. Here is a link which goes into some detail about the Constitutional provisions regarding the military. Here’s the salient point:

    Congress therefor provides funding, for every aspect of military existence from operations to equipment. The specific responsibility , ” raise and support Armies,” and , “provide and maintain a Navy, ” are specifically out lines in Section 8.

    It would appear that an aircraft carrier would fall under one of those categories.

  12. “Dana’s principle is that taxpayers should not pay for stuff they, individually, do not want through collective taxation.”

    That is quite an extrapolation, Pho, from Dana’s original question. He specifically mentions museums, not stuff.

    can you give me one good reason why hard-working Pennsylvanians should be taxed to support naval ships if people aren’t interested enough in them to shell out a few bucks for them voluntarily?

    Because national defense is a public good and all 300M US citizens benefit from it.

  13. Because the Constitution provides for the funding of the military. It doesn’t say anything at all about funding art museums.

    That actually makes sense. So you are claiming that the provision

    “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;”

    extends to no other welfare activity other than that specifically listed below that provision?

    BTW – “Air Force”.

  14. Because national defense is a public good and all 300M US citizens benefit from it.

    Sorry, not good enough. The same can be said of museums.

    We will also note that an aircraft carrier is as far from a “defensive” weapon as it is possible to get.

  15. Thing is, our military defends thios country, which is what it is supposed to do, and in doing so, takes a common action. Museums provide a common benefit, but one which is individually sampled; people may choose whether to visit a museum or not.

    But it seems to me that if the individuals who might wish to visit such an exhibit can’t decide to do so if they must pay even a small admission charge ($32 for four people hardly sounds like it’s excessive), then such seems indicative that it isn’t very highly valued by a lot of people.

    Pennsylvania is facing a $3 billion budget deficit, and the legislature hasn’t managed to pass a budget yet, now two weeks into FY2010 for the commonwealth. The idea that we’d spend money on something which is clearly a luxury is one I find wrong.

  16. extends to no other welfare activity other than that specifically listed below that provision?

    Before the 20th Century and the progressive takeover of our government, “general welfare” was defined as activities which could not typically be funded privately with any measure of efficiency. That meant the military, roads, government buildings and so on were funded by the government. Funding for the arts as a taxpayer obligation is a relatively new idea, and one that should be avoided.

    BTW – “Air Force”.

    You do know where the air force came from, right? It was a branch of the army, which the Constitution states as a branch to be supported.

  17. Dana, Pennsylvania needs some wealthy benefactors to endow your museums.

    BTW, I remember during the 1980s when charging for museum exhibitions was a scandalous new invention. Now it’s commonplace.

  18. Here in Jim Thorpe, we have the privately-funded Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation, housed in an old Presbyterian Church on Broadway. It’s open some weekends during tourist season, and I’ve visited several times — always paying, of course. I visit less for the art collections housed therein than to look at the building itself. The interior woodwork is great and the second floor (which was the church sanctuary of old) has beautiful stained glass windows.

  19. Before the 20th Century and the progressive takeover of our government, “general welfare” was defined as activities which could not typically be funded privately with any measure of efficiency. That meant the military, roads, government buildings and so on were funded by the government. Funding for the arts as a taxpayer obligation is a relatively new idea, and one that should be avoided.

    Nope. Admittedly this is a LaRouchite site, but it does have relevant research.

    The definitive exposition of the General Welfare clause was in Hamilton’s “Report on Manufactures,” issued in December 1791.

    However, as early as February 1791, Hamilton had treated the subject of the general welfare in his “Opinion on the Constitutionality of the National Bank”–written after Washington’s Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and his Attorney General Edmund Randolph, had both declared the creation of a national bank unconstitutional.

    In his “Opinion on the Bank,” Hamilton argued that the powers of the national government “ought to be construed liberally, in advancement of the public good,” and that they must be defined by “the nature and objects of government itself.”

    Hamilton noted that Jefferson had argued, in opposing the bank, that Congress can only levy taxes to pay the debts, or to provide for the welfare of the Union. But this is no argument against a national bank, Hamilton says. “It is true that they [Congress] cannot without breach of trust, lay taxes for any other purpose than the general welfare, but so neither can any other government. The welfare of the community is the only legitimate end for which money can be raised on the community.”

    The only restriction, Hamilton continues, is that money thus raised, cannot be applied for any merely local purpose. “The constitutional {test} of a right application must always be, whether it be for a purpose of {general} or {local} nature. If the former, there can be no want of constitutional power…. Whatever relates to the general order of the finances, to the general interests of trade etc., being general objects are constitutional ones for {the application} of {money}.” (emphasis in original)

    This is further elaborated in the “Report on Manufactures,” in which Hamilton declares that the general interests of Learning, of Agriculture, of Manufactures, and of Commerce, are all within the purview of the General Welfare.

  20. BTW – “Air Force”.

    You do know where the air force came from, right? It was a branch of the army, which the Constitution states as a branch to be supported.

    Yes, but it is not now, is it? On what basis is it now funded if the Constitution only mentions the army and the navy?

  21. “Sorry, not good enough. The same can be said of museums.”

    I would beg to differ. The same cannot be said of museums. It can be argued that it is a public good but not in the same sense as national defense. That is why many(probably just about all)US museums charge an entrance fee.

    We certainly use aircraft carriers in a non-defensive manner but you cannot deny their deterrent effect on countries that may contemplate attacking us.

  22. Phoe: Under “provide for the common defence.”

    Article I, Section 8 reads:

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    This section does not limit it to the United States Army, singular, but allows for the plural. In addition, the Marines predate the Constitution, so we have a separate army already known to the Framers. And there actually is some (quiet) talk about merging the Army and Air Force again; I don’t know how far that will go.

    Were I to take your objections seriously, I would have to read the Constitution as not allowing any military aircraft at all, because it gives the Congress the power to “To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces” and to “make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” There is no mention of activity in the air at all. Does that mean we can have no aircraft whatsoever, or that Congress lacks any power to regulate air forces?

    Your objections are not serious, nor do I think you meant them seriously.

  23. I would beg to differ. The same cannot be said of museums. It can be argued that it is a public good but not in the same sense as national defense.

    How so, precisely? Please note that a museum is open to all.

    We certainly use aircraft carriers in a non-defensive manner but you cannot deny their deterrent effect on countries that may contemplate attacking us.

    This is a little bit like claiming that every household should have artillery because it would deter burglers from attacking them.

    You have 12 carriers – the rest of the world has a total of 11, 6 of these owned by your allies. You have defensive weapons against sea-borne invasion – your submarines. You also have true deterrent forces – specifically nuclear weapons of various types.

    Your aircraft carriers are offensive weapons, not defensive. They are there for power projection; they do not serve in any meaningful deterrent role.

    This again comes down to the fact that the US prefers to talk about “national defense” while demonstratably being the most aggressive country since WWII – having attacked more other countries than anyone else.

    But, getting back to Dana’s question, we are confusng the state powers with the federal. Constitution of Pennsylvania:

    Section 30.
    No appropriation shall be made to any charitable or educational institution not under the absolute control of the Commonwealth, other than normal schools established by law for the professional training of teachers for the public schools of the State, except by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each House.

    Ergo, if 2/3rds of the Penn. legislature voted for a museum, it’s valid. So the answer to Dana’s question “Can you give me one good reason why hard-working Pennsylvanians should be taxed to support museums if the potential patrons aren’t interested enough in them to shell out a few bucks to get in?” becomes “because 2/3rds of the Penn. legislature said so”.

    This probably wouldn’t satisfy him. Dana is not arguing about legality, he’s arguing about principle. Sharon’s comment about the Constitution, while actually useful (for once), is therefore not applicable.

    Dana is asserting a principle that taxpayers should not pay for stuff through (constituional) collective taxation that they, individually, will not pay for. Why should this apply only to museums? Why not aircraft carriers?

  24. “Sorry, not good enough. The same can be said of museums.”

    Good enough for me, too. When an art museum aids in the saving of lives by defending against attack from an enemy, then you might have a point.

  25. There’s another quality which has to be noted: our defense defends us all, whether we wish to be defended or not. (If that seems like an odd statement, consider our nuclear deterrent; some people who are defended by it are absolutely appalled that we have it.)

    Museums, while supposedly open to all — at least: all who can pay the admission — can be chosen to be patronized, or ignored.

  26. “How so, precisely? Please note that a museum is open to all.”

    Pho, I will defer to Dana’s answer at 9:39.

  27. Pho, you are the one who brought up taxpayers paying for aircraft carriers. That’s a federal expense, and not one borne solely by the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. That’s why the U.S. Constitution was relevant in shooting down your argument.

    Your opinion of the U.S. military is neither important nor informative. You are fortunate to live in a world where (a) no one would want to attack your country and (b) there is a U.S. which actually tends to undertake a large share of the military actions of the world.

    But if the voters of Pennsylvania choose to have legislators who wish to tax them to support the arts, then it is up to the voters to ensure such folly doesn’t happen.

  28. It may well be that the admissions fees are such that they deter many from attending.

    There is an optimum fee and it is not free.

  29. We will also note that an aircraft carrier is as far from a “defensive” weapon as it is possible to get.

    Not so. The carrier is the first line of defense for the rest of the fleet. Only a carrier can defend against incoming aircraft from hundreds of miles out. Indeed, one of their prime roles during the Cold War would have been to defend Atlantic convoys from attack by Soviet bombers.

    Carriers also play a role in defense against submarines, hence the Lockheed S-3 Viking.

    I wanna be an S-3 pilot,
    ASW, based afloat
    Don’t be a wimp and fly the Orion,
    Be a man and land on the boat!

Comments are closed.