Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Need a Tax to Support the Arts and Culture in Cincinnati

Sunday's Enquirer had an article detailing the movement to create a county sales tax to help fund arts and cultural organizations in the Cincinnati area. This or something like it needs to be done. We must continue Cincinnati's incredibly high quality level of arts and culture. We far out rank other cities of our size on the richness and depth of arts and culture and we have the potential of being so much more.

It has been long debated what is a better tax for this type of thing: property or sales tax. The problem with a sales tax is that it is dis-proportionally affects the poor. Property taxes don't directly hit the poor as much, but instead hit the wealthy and corporation more fairly. The rich and corporations (via their Republican representatives)don't like paying their fair share so they go nuts when anyone thinks about raising property taxes, and much of the middle class follow suit, no matter the cost to them in the long run.

We can't in this case use an income tax. Since the county has multiple municipalities and no ability to level a uniform tax, it is just not feasible.

The fight is going to end up being the typical anti-city struggle falling on geographic and political lines. County Commissioner and anti-arts Republican Chris Monzel puts that up front in this section from the article:
“The city owns those buildings, and they're trying to pass the cost of repairing them on to Hamilton County taxpayers,” said Commissioner Chris Monzel, referring to Music Hall and Union Terminal. “The city should pay for these buildings, not be building streetcars or atriums.”
Yes, Monzel blames the city for having all of the Cultural institutions, but forgets that two of the institutions included in this plan already have county wide property tax levies (Union Terminal and the Zoo). Monzel is just totally anti-city and anti-Urbanist. He appears to just want all art to die. I don't know how this guy pretends to be representative of the entire county. He only cares about helping Suburbanite Republicans, who I guess he thinks hates arts and culture. He may want to check the voter registration of the Board of nearly all of the major arts organization and he will find Republicans.

The Republicans in Hamilton County must wake up and understand that for a large metro city, like Cincinnati, to grow, it must have a vibrant urban core. You can't live by bread alone and you certainly can't live by Suburb or Exurb alone.  We need our arts and culture to thrive, not die off because of ignorance.

The urban areas have the history and have the culture that the suburbs don't have and do little to cultivate. It is almost a social/cultural belief by many that anything with history and depth is bad. I don't get where this comes from. I could guess rampant consumerism has pushed this along, but there must be something else. I hope it is not religion or politics or bigotry. It just seems like those are the only reasons for this anti-arts and culture attitude. Maybe it will change, but when the same people attack science as much they do the arts, don't expect any change.

1 comment:

  1. Biz Courier has an article up about how the city is losing population but the area surrounding the city is actually growing. That is - people are hovering around the city & leeching off the city. It makes sense for a more county wide support system. The city is still on the hook for the roads, cops & fire crews that access & protect the venues.


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