Gary Shapiro Does Not Approve of Your Sloth
Fractured Atlas has campaigned tirelessly to make benefits like health insurance available to artists and other creative entrepreneurs. So we couldn’t help but notice this blog post by Gary Shapiro, President of the Consumer Electronics Association, attacking House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for promoting the idea that artists should have access to affordable health insurance.
The article trots out all the tired old clichés about how the poor and disenfranchised just need to be ignored so they can learn the value of a hard day’s work. But Shapiro’s most head-scratching argument is when he condemns “ObamaCare” for “allowing anyone to quit their job and pursue their passion.”
Here’s the full quote from Pelosi:
You want to be a photographer or a writer or a musician, whatever - an artist, you want to be self-employed, if you want to start a business, you want to change jobs, you no longer are prohibited from doing that because you can’t have access to health care…
To Shapiro, this proves that “this view [that able-bodied individuals should not be expected to work and should instead be allowed to feed from the public trough] has infected our leadership at the highest level.” In other words, artists and creative entrepreneurs are lazy and would rather leach off the government than get a real job.
This is so grossly misguided that it’s hard to know where to begin. Not only has Shapiro apparently never met an actual working artist, but he completely ignores the enormous benefits that society derives from a thriving creative economy. (He also seems to have a rather poor understanding of the health reform law, which for the most part has nothing to do with government handouts.) When a creative individual leaves her safe if soul-crushing day job to pursue an entrepreneurial passion, it’s not lazy. It’s courageous and quintessentially American.
Our society erects plenty of legitimate (if harsh) barriers to pursuing a career in the arts or starting a new creative business. That historical quirks of our dysfunctional health insurance system make it harder still is not just adding insult to injury. It impoverishes us all by stymieing untold creative potential when our economy needs it most.
We applaud Pelosi’s leadership, not just for championing the under-served and the under-privileged, but for recognizing that America prospers when creativity thrives.