Readers write about why Congress needs to bail out the arts, whether local banks are better than larger banks, and Obama's approach to the challenges facing the US and the world.
Congress should also bail out the arts
Regarding the Feb. 9 article, "The emerging stimulus bill: still big": I applaud the Obama administration for including funding for the arts in the current proposed stimulus package. The fact that it is at all controversial points to the degree to which our public education system has failed in its responsibility to treat the arts as an essential part of a healthy life.
Why is it that when there is a budget shortfall, the arts are the first on the chopping block? As an artist, I can assure you that artists are "real people" whose contribution to society is a far better investment than a Wall Street bank executive's, for whom the entire proposed arts package might represent a single bonus. A lot of artists could be supported for that amount.
Let us set aside for the moment the fact that the arts function as the heart, soul, and conscience of a society and that much of our current economic crisis can be traced to a cultural anemia thereof. Musicians make some of the best computer programmers. Architects are consulted for the design of computer chips. Most of the things you love bear the influence of an artist in some way. The measure of the greatness of a society is the degree to which it supports its artistic talent.
Artists are accustomed to doing a lot with a little, and have a great deal to teach the rest of us about resourcefulness in lean times. As such, one would be hard-pressed to find a better bang for one's buck.
Are local banks the best banks?
In regard to the Feb. 2 commentary, "Community banking: Where people come first": This piece was spot on, but didn't go quite far enough. Credit unions are the way to go. The money deposited gets loaned in your community and invested prudently. The larger ones offer all the array of services one could get at the national, name-brand banks, plus a healthy dose of quality customer service.