Saturday, September 19, 2009



By : Mr. Cornelius D. Zimmerman, Ph. D., Senior Fellow, The Employers' Coalition for Effective Stimulus Through Greater Executive Compensation; Former Director, Gerstein Industrial Paint Co., Inc.; Author, "Money Talks : Paying for Loyalty is OK" (Bantam Business Publications 1997); University of Pennsylvania Business School (M.B.A. 1969).

For over a year now, our government has assumed an unprecedented role in our economy. Following the disaster that befell Wall Street last autumn, Washington has literally foot the bill for private investment losses. If employers need extra cash for operations, they just need to ask the government for it. If a corporation is running low on money for executive bonuses, it just needs to fill out some forms claiming "economic difficulty" and it gets a fat federal check. Washington calls these measures "economic stimulus." Still, many companies feel embarrassed about taking government handouts. But as business owners and employers, we say this: Do not be ashamed to take free money.

As a general rule, we believe in hard work and earning your keep. When we raise our children, for instance, we teach them that nothing is free. We teach them that traditional, daily employment is the only way to respectably earn money. We even teach them to feel ashamed for accepting too much help from other people. After all, a good, zealous worker needs no extra help. If he does, that means he has failed somewhere. Put simply, we do not appreciate government efforts to help people who are too lazy to work, or people who fail. When you fail, that's your problem.

Still, we relax our stance when we benefit from government spending. Workers should feel ashamed to receive government help, but we do not feel ashamed when the government bails out our companies. After all, our companies are necessary to the economy. Employees are less necessary. Anyone can type data into a spreadsheet. But not everyone can sit at a Directors' meeting and ask blustering questions about finance. We are different. Without us, employees would not have a place to work and earn. In that sense, it is perfectly acceptable for major companies to receive government aid without any shame at all. In fact, we deserve it. When government gives major corporations money, it acknowledges our vital role in the national economy. We salute the Federal government for its recognition that private corporations must remain profitably funded in order to maintain our free market system.

Yet government's willingness to spend money to support private employers introduces new issues. How can businesses benefit most from government's new largesse? We founded The Employers' Coalition for Effective Stimulus to answer exactly that question. If government wants to spend money to help pay our bills and our executive salaries, we think it is important that government spend effectively. Effective spending means cutting away needless expenses and putting money in the right places. That means guaranteeing two basic things: (1) That executives continue to receive their pre-2008 salary levels; and (2) That companies can employ more people at livable wages. Executives must receive their old pay because no business professional will take risks without it, and companies must hire more people because more employees mean more profits for executives, particularly when government pays for them. Without profits for executives, the whole system collapses. Who would want to run a business without profit? Thus, when government spends money on private companies, it must bear these two goals in mind.

Stimulus is still a relatively new concept in Washington. We believe that Washington can benefit from executive consultation on stimulus programs. First, we insist that Washington increase stimulus for our companies. Americans want jobs. We can give them jobs if Washington gives us money to pay them (less a service fee payable as executive compensation). Washington knows that Americans want jobs. Yet it sabotages its own stimulus efforts by wasting money on things Americans don't want, like art. At present, Washington spends billions on extraneous initiatives like the "Federal Writers' Program," the "National Endowment for the Humanities," the "Federal Performing Arts Fund" and many other "artistic" endeavors. This is pure waste. Americans could care less about art. However much they cared about art in rosier times, they don't want it now. No one wants to look at paintings when they are unemployed; they want a job. In a word, jobs are more important than art.

By targeting useless spending such as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Federal Sculpture Society, we free up cash for job creation. By streamlining Federal aid, we ensure that money goes where it is needed most: To private employers. When more government aid fills corporate accounts, that means more jobs. Yet when government wastes money on photography, essays and art history lectures, that means less money for private employers. And when that happens, Americans lose jobs. It is no answer to say that private employers can pay their own employees. That is not the point: The point is that more money for companies means even more jobs for Americans. Neither we nor the American people will further tolerate government spending that prevents Americans from getting jobs. Put simply, every time the government spends money on art, it costs thousands of American jobs. This must stop.

Art does not pay medical bills. It does not send children to private colleges, nor does it pay mortgages. Art does not buy furniture, groceries or electronics. In a word, it is useless. In difficult economic times like this, Americans do not need useless things. They need jobs. They need things that will save them from bankruptcy and ruin, not pornographic sculptures and left-wing theater pieces. The Coalition understands the American people: The American people want jobs, not art. We know that Americans would much rather have a job at the local insurance company than free admission to an exhibit on splatter painting. Stimulus will not reach its full potential until government halts competing support for art.

America does not need art. America needs stimulus that works, not decadent luxuries like painting and novel-writing. Cutting arts funding will help us on the path to universal private employment. But there are other ways to create jobs beyond effective stimulus for private employers. For example, the Federal government can provide funding to private entrepreneurs to round up and burn existing art. Just as government created ready jobs for unemployed workers in the 1930s, so too can it create ready work for the unemployed in 2009. There are millions of artworks in the United States. Unemployed people can immediately get back to work looking for them, seizing them and destroying them. Even more Americans can stack up paintings, while still others can feed them into fires--all for decent pay. Skilled contractors can build furnaces for artworks, keep them fueled, clean them and maintain them. Thousands more can drive trucks transporting artworks between furnaces. Unemployed accountants can count how many artworks are burned each day at each furnace, then draw up ledgers detailing trends and productivity. These measures will provide immediate relief to millions and pay them a dignified wage. Furthermore, they will give unemployed people hope and a new sense of national pride.

We can do this. We must simply start rounding up and burning art. This is stimulus that works.

Americans can do anything they put their minds to. When Americans have a purpose, they are stronger than anyone else on earth. We can survive this recession by reevaluating what it means to live in America. There is nothing wrong with accepting government assistance. When stimulus stimulates private spending on employment and executive compensation, everyone wins. Additionally, when government shows the people that it cares about their jobs and even creates work for them, they feel proud to live in a country that cares for them. We can accomplish all these goals by cutting arts funding and destroying existing art. Thousands of Americans need work. Millions more need hope. Effective government spending will ensure that they all get well-paying, private sector jobs within the next twelve months. Anyone who wants a job will have one. After all, anyone can burn art. Even disabled people can play a part by telling able-bodied workers where to find hidden art.

For over two hundred years, artwork has accumulated in the United States. Destroying it will take years. During that time, millions of Americans will receive excellent wages. They will be able to afford their own health insurance, feed their children and even buy homes. Destroying art will provide all these benefits. And what will we really lose? Americans would rather work than look at sculptures or drawings. Employers would rather make suitable profits than cut jobs. Yet this is precisely what they will have to do if government does not streamline its stimulus efforts. In today's economy, government cannot afford to waste money. It must ensure that every dollar results in job creation.

Let us move forward. We can overcome this depression without socialism. We must merely spend money where it counts: On private employers, not art. Spending money on art led this country into despair and depression. Let us take our prosperity back. It is time to spend money on things that Americans want: Jobs. By paying executive compensation and destroying art, Americans will get all the jobs they want.

Let us get back to work. If you are out of work, tell your Congressman to abolish arts funding. And mention that you are ready to help look for paintings, sculptures, sketches and picture books. We have a new mission as a people: To work, not to hoard wasteful art. Burning art will unite us all.

Better days are coming. That means more jobs and less art.

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