In his March 12 broadcast, Rush Limbaugh freaked out over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) call for artists, photographers, writers, and other creative people to have access to health care. Limbaugh was so outraged that he played Pelosi’s quote four times during the segment, and so I’ll repeat it here:
PELOSI: Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or, eh, a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance, or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk but not [be] job-locked because a child has asthma or someone in the family is bipolar. You name it. Any condition is job-blocking.
Limbaugh interprets Pelosi and other Democrats as thinking that, “It’s just such a pain in the rear end to have to have a job. It’s so damn mean of this country to require people to have a job. It stifles people. It stifles creativity and economic growth to require people to have a job, to have health care.” I only wish every job included health care.
Limbaugh asks why can’t these artists work and practice their craft simultaneously? Let me explain it to him. Most employers who offer group coverage require a minimum number of hours worked weekly (20-30 on average). For parents who want to pursue an art, it becomes impossible to juggle creativity, work 30 hours weekly, and raise their children. In this scenario, something has to give: the art. This is what Pelosi addresses. She wants artists to be able to add to our culture and not have to sacrifice their health or the health of their children.
Clearly, Limbaugh devalues culture. He says that artists don’t work, that what they do is not valuable! And worse, according to Limbaugh, these free-loading artists will not pay taxes and will get free insurance from the government paid by you, hard-working, overtaxed, regular American citizens.
But culture is valuable. In the Great Depression, as part of the New Deal, the Works Project Administration gave work to thousands of artists, musicians, actors and writers. Federal Relief Administrator Harry Hopkins justified the program, “Hell, they’ve got to eat just like other people.” He saw the importance of culture, writing, “Few things could add such a permanent volume of employment as would a program of educating the public to use the services and participate in the pleasures of culture we possess. I use the word culture as including everything from basketball to a violin performance.”
Pelosi and other health reform supporters agree with Hopkins on the importance of culture. Hell, artists need insurance just like other people!
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