The slippery slope of defunding the arts

James Moore

I take issue with Samian Quazi’s column published Wednesday in The Daily Texan titled, “The questionable value of arts programs.” The unspoken premise underlying Quazi’s argument is that the purpose of education is vocational training; consequently, if a particular academic major does not lead directly to a paycheck, its value is to be questioned.

Of course, if one is aiming for a career in technology or accounting or computing, specific technical training is necessary at the college level. But when did the sole purpose of education become the accumulation of cash? I find it ironic that the fields Quazi mentions as viable — business, law, computer science and medicine — are all rife with corruption and turmoil and seem to possess no ethical center of gravity. When making money is the end of all human endeavor, then we will do whatever it takes to make money in these fields, crossing any and all ethical boundaries.

I for one am tired of “MBA thinking,” or the bottom-line mentality; it is destroying the fabric of our society. If you start by defunding visual and performing arts, then next will come the study of literature and then the humanities at large. Might as well throw out history, too — what jobs can one possibly land with a history degree? Goodbye, philosophy.

What will remain?

The economy and the job market are social constructs and are in their present condition because our society has built them that way. Rather than jettisoning fields of inquiry that explore and enrich human values, we should use our creativity and resources to determine how we can integrate these fields into our lives and our economy in the 21st century.

James Moore
Adjunct English professor, Austin Community College