Monday, January 21, 2008

A Modest Economic Proposal


The subject in United States politics has changed from the War in Iraq to the economy. This is a subject which never fails to amuse me when politicians expound upon it because they mostly come from privileges background where they have not even had to balance their check books. Just a clue that they have no idea what it is like to be among the working class poor: They believe this group of people can save $15,000 to cover medical expenses.

The big wigs in Washington also think free trade helps us. And maybe it would if trade on all levels was in fact free. But it is not. China is allowed to ship us poisoned wheat glutton and defective tires freely but there are still tariffs and duties and taxes on goods going from the United States to foreign countries. Most notably from my stand point: Duties and taxes on art. Some so high that they exceed the cost of the art itself.

The Internet has made it possible for me with my small art business to reach clients all over the world through the Internet and websites. And yet it is extremely costly and difficult for me to sell that art to anyone outside the borders of the United States.

Last year the gallery that represents my work here in New Mexico wanted to establish an art exchange with a gallery in Mexico. Hands across the border. This is the country mind you that we are allowing to export millions of illegal aliens to our country and which there is a virtual free trade of guns and drugs. But to allow an artist from the United States to take works to Mexico to sell in a gallery there, and an artist from Mexico to come here with their works turned out to be virtually impossible even for a short month. Economically it became so extraordinary because of taxes and duties the two gallery owners gave up.

And recently an Internet friend from Australia wanted to buy one of my paintings. The shipping fees, taxes, and duties amounted to more than the cost of the painting. If we allow any product produced by our country to cross our borders freely and without price supports or penalties it should be the arts and crafts produced my one of the largest group of small businessmen and women in our country: Our artists and artisans.

We are probably the first people hurt by an economic slowdown. Art is not necessary for survival. But it is necessary for enrichment of the soul. And when artists and artisans do well they are one of the first groups of people to "give back" to their communities in the form of donated works of art for auctions to support charities, time given to schools to make up for the lack of art education in the schedules, loaned works of art to beautiful public buildings, etc.

Give us an economic boost by allowing us to sell freely around the world.