Friedman, Hayek, Buckley and the Vienna State Opera
Enough of heavy and contentious subject for this week. So here is something light - or lighter.
An interesting post by Peter Robinson at the Corner. Peter, trying to decide whether PBS should continue to exist asked readers to email a quote (if it is true) that Von Hayek supported public subsidy of the Vienna State Opera. Apparently, Peter could not make up his mind. Myself, despite being a small-government conservative I must confess my worst sin, I supported government subsidy of the National Endowment for the Arts. Milton Friedman on an email to Peter said:
I believe your memory is playing tricks on you. It was Ludwig von Mises who was notorious for supporting state opera. I never heard that Hayek was a fellow sinner…. Re my view on PBS, I believe the government has no business running a propaganda mill, by radio, TV, or in print. I would completely privatize PBS.
Who am I to argue with Milton Friedman? Especially if I claims to be his greatest admirer. But Mr. Friedman, unlike me, was never poor. Until very recently, I could not afford to attend classical music concert without government subsidy - it would be cost prohibitive if it is privately funded. I love classical music. When I went to war, beside defending democracy, I thought of myself as defending Mozart against Islamofacism. Yes, I fought for W but W. Mozart, not W. Bush. Who would you rather fight for? After the porks ladden highway bill and the Harriet Miers nomination, I am glad I fought for Mozart.
Yet, being poor is not a good accuse for my position. I was essentially supporting socialism - that someone else pay for my pet cause. And then William Buckley came to the rescue. In an inteview with Brian Lamb (via Peter original post), Buckley said:
Adam Smith said that the state can legitimately do certain things. And those are a very short list. It can look after the common defense and it can be the custodian of monuments. So I asked myself the question: Does the authority of Adam Smith attach to a state enterprise that takes dead musicians and makes their music available?...as to suggest that a monument need not only be something chiseled in marble, sitting in the middle of a park, but might also be keeping alive a musician and providing the wonderful amenity.
I know some of you may still be unconvinced and think of me as a hypocrite. You may even be right. I am afterall flaw. But if I died in war and requested that the government pay for Mozart Requiem to be sung at my funeral (which I actually did in my will - it is my favorite requiem). Would you object?
If you are still unconvinced by my shamless emotional argument above, I still have one last argument (even more shamless) - this.