2012 Election | Bill Maher | Mormon | Religion | Republican Party

Bill Maher On Mitt Romney's 'Charitable' Giving: VIDEO


Bill Maher's MO is to take one excellent idea and coat it with a fine dusting of nuttery. (Maher is, for example, vocally pro-science and pro-reason, but he's famously skeptical of the germ theory of disease and "Western Medicine" in general.) That's what he was up to on Friday, in a generally hilarious segment in which he pointed out that, despite Mitt Romney's claims to the contrary, the candidate doesn't really give huge, tax-deductable donations to "charity." He gives huge, tax-deductable donations to the Church of Latter Day Saints, which is very different. Contributing money to an organization which builds "castles" for itself (Maher's apt word for Mormon temples) and spends millions to deny rights to LGBT Americans is charity in only the most attenuated sense of the word.

Maher then suggests that donations to cultural institutions, such as symphonies, aren't really charity either, and shouldn't count as tax-write offs. That's probably a less valid point. (Culture really is a necessary public good, just like public education, and unlike the promulgation of somebody's favorite brand of divisive supernaturalism.) Whatever. The segment's cool anyway. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...


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  1. Art should NOT be subject to market forces, especially now when America is at the height of being ignorant and proud of it. I shudder to think of a future where Ke$ha is the new Mozart and Stephanie Meyer is the new Austen. The government has a vested interest in supporting the arts, ideas and beauty have great influence in culture and attitudes. Remember that some of the greatest thinkers in history were artists, and almost all were shaped by the art of their times. Art and its influence does not stop at the museum doors or the concert hall and is not limited to those who where there personally, that Les Miserables playing at the Queen's Theatre has inspired many artists that create media for the mainstream audience. Likewise, the paintings of Van Gogh have had a profound influence on many graphics designers today.

    Posted by: Winston | May 7, 2012 4:53:02 AM

  2. OLIVER - yes, a ticket to a major symphony is very expensive. Attending a regular performance, just like a Broadway show or a major league sports team, is out of reach for many people. But symphonies do free concerts and reduced rate concerts for school children. They can do this because of those high ticket prices but also because of funding from donations.

    I am fortunate to live in a college town. We have a great regional symphony that often utilizes student musicians. The tickets are quite reasonable considering the quality of the performances, and I'm quite thankful because major symphony prices are not in the budget. But even if I didn't have the pleasure of attending, I'd still have the music I get to enjoy via public radio, which is supported by donations.

    Posted by: TJ | May 7, 2012 10:52:34 AM

  3. JACK - my point is that if all you know is McDonald's and hamburger helper and iceberg lettuce, that is all you are likely to buy. Given the popularity of the Food Channel and various food personalities on other networks, people have been exposed not only to different foods but also to how-to instruction. Plus, we are exposed more to the idea of the importance of good nutrition. I bet if I went to that same market today, I'd see more options.

    The Arts are part of our cultural history. Preserving that history alone is worth the support of the community. But what the Arts inspire as well as the pleasure they afford us is an important part of our present and future. Donations not just to symphonies but all sorts of artiistic efforts and styles of music improves the quality of our lives. As long as donations to organizations devoted to physical health are deductible (and churches for spiritual health as well), I'm okay with donations to cultural health being deductible, too.

    Posted by: TJ | May 7, 2012 11:15:49 AM


    Posted by: GRivera | May 7, 2012 11:53:17 AM


    Posted by: GRivera | May 7, 2012 11:57:10 AM

  6. @Nat, @Jack: Huh? Anybody can apply for an NEA grant. You just have to prove your worth.

    And the Symphony plays more than just classical music. The Ballet dances more than just Swan Lake. Your local theatres put on more than just Cats. And if you think that your pop stars weren't influenced by arts programs, then you're simply dreaming. Part of being a great artist is paying attention to what other people do.

    And as for the whine about the cost of going to the Symphony, I see somebody hasn't actually paid attention to how it works. Your typical city symphony does a ton of outreach as well as providing low-cost concerts. Plus, there's the fact that you don't have to go to the Symphony to see it just as you don't have to go to the stadium to watch the game. Those tickets are expensive, too, but still somehow everybody seems to have seen it.

    Yes, food, clothing, and shelter...those things come before culture, but you can't live if all you're focused on is food, clothing, and shelter. Human beings go nuts when put in isolation. We need interaction with others, we need social contact, we need culture in order to live.

    Posted by: Rrhain | May 7, 2012 6:33:04 PM

  7. Romney gives twice to almost three times more of his money away than Obama and about a third of what he gives is not to his church. Can you say that? If you can't I would not say anything.

    Posted by: Ld | Aug 26, 2012 8:29:46 PM

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