So during all this talk about portfolios I’ve kind of been wondering something that’s a bit of a hot button right now. I try to avoid being political here in this blog, but my question (and believe me it’s rhetorical, no reason to respond–really) is why anyone who’s a freelance artist would be a socialist.
Yet I’ve got a lot of friends who make those sorts of noises. They truly seem to think that’s the way they ought to vote.
With all due respect, I disagree.
As a freelance artist should be a capitalist in every sense of the word.
Though your capital is based on your talents and abilities as an artist, it is essentially no different than the person who’s capital is based on stocks, bonds, real estate or cash. The very words, “portfolio”, “talents”, and “investment” are all used in both the financial world and the art world.
But perhaps I’d better put this in the form of analogies so we’re all on the same page.
I’ve been re-watching one of those “The Great Courses” series and several times the professor makes mention of the various rulers of Europe who took over, then seizing the art treasures of this or that country and taking them away for his own nation’s collection. You know, various kings of France, England, Spain–then later Napoleon, even later guys like Stalin and Hitler. When one mentions those last three almost all of my artist friends get really hot under the collar (as well they should). How dare those men presume to seize the art treasures of other countries or persons just because they happened to have taken those countries by force?
How is that any different than some socialist administration seizing the 401(k) holdings of people who have been working to save those funds for their retirements?
I’m sure that Napoleon thought he was fully justified in “redistributing the wealth” of the countries he invaded for the good of France–at least at the time. (He was later disabused of those notions.)
Getting back to my point. You, the artist, were given an inheritance by your parents: the collection of genes and chromosomes that make up your physical body; the encouragement you received (or didn’t receive as the case may be) caused you to pursue art as a vocation; the work ethic you were taught; the training you were given to make your work better, etc.
And you have invested time to build your skills and take that latent talent to new heights that did not previously exist. For years you have presented your work to the public, to art buyers, editors, art directors, etc. Facing the criticism all of those had to give and bouncing back from all the negatives and building on the positives. You finally reach the point where you are able to sell your work at a decent rate to publishers and receive a compensation for commission work that will support you and your family in a decent manner.
Now, imagine some no-talent hack comes along and insists that he should be paid the same rate you have struggled the past 30 years to achieve. “It’s only fair,” he says, “after all I put marks on paper too! Why shouldn’t I be paid the same rate? What makes you morally superior to me?”
Do you see the error in the logic there? It’s not an issue of moral superiority, but an issue of the quality of the work. It’s an issue of the hours spent doing the work, of learning the skills and applying them to good and upkeep of your family.
It’s at this point that at least one of my friends will argue that I’m being selfish and not following the example of Christ in showing charity. To which I have to point out their fallacy. Socialism is not charity. Socialism forces everyone to pay into the system–and the moment you force someone to pay into something it is no longer charity, it is coercion.
Again, capitalism is the better system. It allows each person to decide for himself what causes to give to. Admittedly, many people will decide to give to terrible causes, many will give to no cause at all. But better that an individual be given that right to decide on their own than have some commissar make a terrible decision on the part of many people who are being forced to comply unwillingly–or (the more likely scenario if history is any indicator) hoarding the money for his own benefit.
Now before anyone accuses me of campaigning for Donald Trump, please get this straight–I am not in favor of conspicuous consumption. So that leaves “the Donald” out right there. But neither do I see any wisdom in Bernie Sanders (nor any other Socialist in sheep’s clothing). Capitalism is not about, “he who dies with the most toys wins.” It never was. It should be about responsible stewardship of the resources that we each have as individuals–and we can’t be responsible by abdicating our individual responsibilities to the State. That was the point of the Constitution.
As for those who claim that the Constitution is dead–well, then why am I still here talking about it?