Don't cut arts and humanities, explain their importance

Worried how blue collar workers feel about PBS? Donald Trump should let me talk to them.

President Donald Trump recently introduced his "America First" budget. His budget director stated in a press conference that he needed to cut funding to such programs as the Public Broadcasting Service, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts because how could you explain to un- or under-employed blue-collar families in middle America "wasting" their tax dollars on such programs when there are far more pressing and economic or security-related funding priorities facing our nation?

As president of an independent college, I can sincerely appreciate and understand the difficulties of budgeting in an era of scarce resources. But I also want to speak as the child of a blue collar family once unemployed in the difficult economic times of the 1970s. Growing up in a small Southern town with limited cultural resources, I gained perhaps the most valuable learning opportunities of my developmental years through the educational programming offered by PBS. Through what was then known as E-TV, I received an education about the geography, history, literature and cultures of not only my own nation, but of countries I had only seen on the pages of an atlas. The knowledge I gained from those experiences helped form a life committed to educating others and productively contributing to the economy.

It's difficult for me to imagine where my life might be today were it not for PBS, the NEA and the NEH. I have been the beneficiary of life-transforming opportunities because of these entities. Thus, while President Trump might have a difficult time explaining their importance to the blue-collar families of his concern, I offer myself as a witness who may be better equipped to reason that argument with such families for him. And given that resources are a valid concern, I'll be glad to make that argument gratis and on demand.

Roger Casey, Westminster

The writer is president of McDaniel College.

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