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3 Regent J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 95 (2011)
Economists' Arguments for Government Arts Subsidies

handle is hein.journals/rejoupp3 and id is 101 raw text is: ECONOMISTS' ARGUMENTS FOR
Due to controversy over various grants by the National En-
dowment for the Arts (NEA), Congress amended the law in
1990 to require the NEA to take standards of decency into
account when issuing grants.1 Following that amendment,
there has been much discussion about the tension, created by
government arts funding, between recognizing the values of
taxpayers who fund the NEA and the First Amendment
rights of the artists receiving the grants.2 Missing from the
debate, however, is discussion whether there are any eco-
nomic reasons justifying such government funding. Often,
the economic case for government arts funding is merely as-
sumed. However, a body of economic literature has been
developed that specifically examines whether economic the-
ory justifies government arts funding. Alas, much of this
literature is unsatisfactory.
* Professor of Economics at Grove City College and adjunct scholar at the
Ludwig von Mises Institute. Ritenour earned a B.A. in economics, graduating with
honors from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. He completed his Ph.D. in
economics in 1997 at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Prior to teaching at
Grove City College, Ritenour was holder of the Ruby Letsch-Roderique Chair of Eco-
nomics at Southwest Baptist University. He has lectured for the Acton Institute, the
Institute for Principle Studies and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He has aslo
served as visiting professor at the University of Angers in France. Ritenour has
taught economics for thirteen years and has also been an economist at the United
States Bureau of Labor Statistics. He and his wife Michelle have two daughters:
Helena and Cecily. The author would like to thank Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., George
Ford, Robert Hdbert, J6rg Guido Hulsmann, and John D. Jackson for their helpful
comments on earlier versions of this Article.
1. Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1991,
Pub. L. No. 101-512, § 103(d), 104 Stat. 1915, 1963 (1990).
2. See, eg., Symposium Art, Distribution & the State: Perspectives on the
National Endowment for the Arts, 17 CARDOZO ARTs & ENT. L.J. 705 (1999)
(discussing the impact of the NEA v. Finley decision, which instructed the NEA to
take into account standards of decency and respect when promulgating regulations
on granting funds).

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