Monday, November 21, 2005Pacific Views has a piece on the sadly predictable lack of corporate funding for a Darwin exhibition. It would be more depressing if it were not so routine. Corporations are in the business of making money, nothing more. The only reason they provide financial support to such events is to raise their public profile and improve their image. They don't do it out of some sort of beneficence - they do it to increase sales.
Which brings me to the real problem. Why is it that corporations are required to fund valuable public activities? What does a Darwin exhibit, or PBS, or whatever, have to do with selling cars? Precisely nothing, that's what. But we have created a situation in which even public schools can't operate without corporate sponsorship. Traditionally arts & culture have been financed by governments. But since we've hollowed out the government and weakened the tax base, the only folks with disposable income are corporations and wealthy individuals.
This is a very dangerous situation, as the Darwin exhibit makes clear. There is word for one who grants gifts to others - it's called a patron. And do you know what the recipients are called? Clients. By forcing intellectual, educational, artistic, and even entertainment activities to be reliant on corporate contributions, we are allowing the requirements and biases of our already too-powerful corporate sector to annex greater and greater portions of public life. What we are witnessing is nothing less than the corporate feudalization of American society.