We could bemoan the fact that in America, as opposed to, say, Italy (a tiny country whose national arts budget is three times the NEA's), national "culture" isn't -- and has never been -- a priority.
On the other hand, given that we will never catch up with our Western peers (Germany has 28 times more opera houses than us), perhaps America's greatest arts potential is, finally, to be less like Old Europe and possibly more like Bali, the land where, legendarily, everyone makes art. Even the children make art -- although, of course, this would require turning off the endless chatter of TVs and computers and Wiis. No, currently, our national culture is Disney and Sony and Nintendo and hence, due to cultural harm perpetrated by crimping our children's imaginations, I suggest those entertainment corporations pay a .5% arts tax that is redirected into things like required free piano lessons for all American children. With -- Hey! A play-along CD by Wynton Marsalis. Why not?