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Hey Rush, Artists Need Insurance Too!

Harry Hopkins

The New Deal's Harry Hopkins: "Hell, they've got to eat like other people."

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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8 Responses to Hey Rush, Artists Need Insurance Too!

  1. coolpillow March 18, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    So go out and get a real job.
    Practice your “art” on the side until it becomes sought after enough to make money for you.

    Your entitlement mentality is sorry and scary.

  2. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    @coolpillow: You obviously didn’t read the entire thing.

  3. Matthew Lasar March 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    @coolpillow . . . Wow. So let me get this straight, you think that if a group of young people just out of art school want to start a graphic design business, and they’ll be able to because thanks to health care reform they can buy health insurance, THAT’s “scary” ???

    Let’s continue to put this in historical perspective.

    Previous generations grappled with

    a) The Great Depression (really scary)
    b) Nazism (extra scary)
    c) Communism (ditto scary)

    But after two decades of “conservative” talk media, we now define “scary” as a freelance illustrator or a startup film studio being able to access health insurance.

    I think that’s pathetic.

  4. kye March 18, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

    I like this article and now i feel ready for the final. thanks meg

  5. Jeff Woods March 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    coolpillow… not surprisingly you missed the point completely. I am a full time self employed artist who works my ass off 60+ hours a week. Guess what… I have been denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Even if they would allow me to have it, I can not afford the $500+ per month in premiums. Does this mean I am not working, not paying taxes, and not contributing to society… hell no! It only means that the way health care currently operates in this country, independent artists and authors such as myself, are actively denied any access to affordable health care. All we can do is go to the emergency room and if anything serious happens we are likely to lose our livelihoods as well as our homes. But I guess sole proprietors who work 60 hours a week are just lazy bastards in your book since we have not forgotten our dreams and settled on a menial job simply to have access to insurance. Forget for a moment that more and more companies are dropping health insurance coverage for their workers. You and Rush are completely ignorant of the reality self employed entrepreneurs are dealing with right now.

  6. John March 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    Not just artists. I’d like to try freelance web development. Given a year to build clientèle I could make a killing. But there’s no way I could do that. I have a pre-existing condition and a family that needs coverage, and that locks me to my current employer.

  7. billyboy May 17, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    It’s not access to healthcare for artists that is scary. What is scary is the idea that I should be forced to pay for and ensure healthcare for an artist (or ANY person) who CAN get regular income by taking a less than “dream job”. I have artists in my immediate family, and have had for multiple generations. I want my children (who are artists) to pursue their passion. I also want them to have access to healthcare — but, my neighbors shouldn’t be paying for their healthcare when my artists are perfectly capable of working at Walgreens 30 hours a week and getting healthcare access that way.

    That’s “scary” in the same way that those other things you listed (great depression, naziism, communism) are scary — they disrupt the very principles upon which our country was founded.

    It’s ok with me if we have a public discourse about whether or not we should change America this radically. It’s not ok with me for us to make these changes without discourse, by burying the changes in omnibus legislation like the recent healthcare law.

  8. Matthew Lasar May 17, 2010 at 8:39 pm #


    I’m sorry that you’re scared. If it’s any consolation, people said that Social Security, minimum wage laws, unemployment insurance, and Medicare were scary too. Eventually they got over it.

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