Truths we hold to be self-evident
Mark Sampson has an excellent post on arts funding, which in a single sentence might be summarized as “Stop making silly economic arguments for arts funding, and start arguing that arts funding is simply a feature of the Canada you want to live in.”
In all the time I wrote for outdoor magazines, I felt the same about economic arguments made in favour of protecting natural resources. One should not have to argue that clean water is a benefit because of tourism dollars related to clean water; it should be sufficient to observe that clean water is clean fucking water.
And that argument carries an inherent risk: if the tourism becomes less lucrative than, say, the intensive pig farming whose runoff turns your formerly clean water into E. coli soup, then one is up E. coli creek sans paddle, rhetorically speaking.
A similar fate awaits those who hope to argue in favour of funding poetry in place of, say, applied research on the affinity of teenaged girls for sparkly vampires. If’n we’re gonna fund lit-ra-chur, says the administrator, should we not pursue the best bang for our buck?
Some values are best not measured in dollars.