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Minnesota Republicans, Funding for the Arts, and Namecalling

[House Majority Leader Matt] Dean also singled out a $45,000 payment of Legacy money that was made last year to science fiction writer Neil Gaiman for a four-hour speaking appearance. Dean said that Gaiman, “who I hate,” was a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.”

–The Minnesota Star Tribune, reporting on Republican attempts in the Minnesota Senate to do away with legacy funding for Minnesota Public Radio, the Minnesota Zoo, and the Council on Black Minnesotans.

You know what they say about when you can’t say something nice. Gaiman himself posted a larger explanation of the funding for that speaking event on his blog a year ago, and in a nutshell, it’s:

1. He prices his speaking events high because he does not have time to do very many of them, and pricing them high is a way of cutting down on the requests. Still, most of the speaking engagements he does do are done for charity.


So. I was asked if I’d come and talk at Stillwater, and be paid $40,000. I said, “That’s an awful lot of money for a little library.”

“It’s not from the library. It’s from the Legacy Fund, a Minnesota tax allocation that allows the library to pay market rates to bring authors to suburban libraries who otherwise wouldn’t be able to bring them in. They have to use the money now as it won’t roll over to next year and expires next month.”


3. He gave the money to charity.

Political objections to any of this aside… pencil-necked? Weasel? Mr. Gaiman’s a little to big to get shoved into a locker, methinks.

(via @neilhimself.)

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  • Gina

    He stole money and gave it to charity? Neil Gaiman is Robin Hood! Yay! Everyone likes Robin Hood.
    Honestly, I have nothing useful to contribute because it seems like yet ANOTHER politician is bitching and using hyperbole to win an argument, rather than discuss the issues. And looking supremely stupid in the process.

  • Mkjcaylor

    Well, he didn’t by any means steal any money. If they didn’t want to pay him for it they wouldn’t have. And it was going to expire, which in any form of grant means you Must Use It Now on whatever you can find that you can use to benefit the reason for the grant. People do this all the time with all sorts of grants and allocations of money. It sounded like they failed to use it for other things and the $40,000 would disappear for them one way or another. Also Neil mentioned that had they asked for less he would have bargained, but they didn’t. Attacking Neil in this manner is pretty terrible. The fault lies with someone who didn’t use the money another way, and even then I think Neil Gaiman coming to speak is a pretty big advertising/promotional deal and a good idea to get people to come to a library. I mean, in the world of speakers, even $40,000 isn’t very much.

  • Vinity

    I dare Matt Dean to post the amount of $$ he’s received for speaking and show how much of that money went to a charity that helps people or the country, other than his fellow rich republicans. The republicans are really just turning into the new Nazi. The events of this week have truly shown how utterly they care for NOTHING other than their own agenda, the good of anyone other than them be damned.

  • John Romero

    Neil Gaiman is a contemporary author whose name will justifiably be remembered for his contributions to literature by millions for decades to come. I have already forgotten the name of the politician referred to in this article before I could finish writing this rather short paragraph.

  • Gregory Smith

    The Legacy Fund must end, let Borders and Barnes & Noble pay the big bucks to bring authors, why should all taxpayers be forced to pay for writers that only a few want to see?
    Kudos to the GOP for standing up for fiscal responsibility. Hey liberals, how would you feel if you had to pay for my hunting trips or the rodeo, country music, and any number of activities you abhor?

  • Michelle Parsneau

    ‘…only a few want to see…”? You clearly know nothing about Gaiman. He regularly brings in several thousand people to listen to him speak.

    If your “…hunting trips or the rodeo, country music, and…[other] activities…” contributed more to the public good than just your own enjoyment, I probably wouldn’t mind having my tax dollars go that direction, but they don’t, so your false equivalency doesn’t work.

  • Jack

    State and federal funding (that’s tax dollars, Mr. Confederate Flag) pays for national parks, hunting preserves and wildlife areas, many of the forests and natural areas that hunters frequent. What’s more, nearly every U.S. state has a Games and Parks Commission, organizations which are designed (and spend money for the sole purpose of), games and parks, which, since you seem to be too illiterate to understand, means state-funded tax dollars pay for it all: the land you hunt on, managing the population of the animals you want to hunt at those state-funded parks, and also toward stocking and managing the streams and rivers you like to fish in.

    When you pay a tax on a hunting or fishing license, where do you think that money goes? Do you have any idea how many millions of dollars are spent every year to promote hunting and fishing? By contrast, how much money do you suppose is spent to encourage people to read, to visit their local libraries, to show kids that their is a whole world and vast universe out there? A pittance, by comparison.

    And, many not-for-profit annual rodeos throughout the country are funded by state taxes, generally out of the County Commission’s (or County planning organization, whichever type of government your county or parish has) annual budget. (Again, tax dollars.) Which means those rodeos you so eagerly use as an example are paid for by state taxes. Not to mention the prize money that is given away to the winners. At large rodeos, that prize money far exceeds what most authors would be paid for a speaking engagement.

    So, since we already are paying for all of these things you hold so dearly through state and local taxes, I kindly suggest you sit down, shut up, and perhaps read a book. Although, fair warning, you might actually learn something.


  • Anonymous

    I say Mr Dean should return all of his music, artwork on the wall and any printed material in his home because he doesn’t deserve it.

  • mu

    Are there a lot of these types the Repubs are reaching out to by being just comically assholish? I’m just having difficulty make sense of this strain of behavior, ranging from insulting a popular (children’s) author to demanding foster children not be allowed new clothes, let alone how it could possibly be politically sensible.

    I also like this memetic “taxpayers forced to pay for” things. As if someone twists your arm until you get out your wallet, instead of, y’know, folks paying their fair share for the lifestyles the lead. There’s an interesting contradiction there too, it’s like, being a taxpayer is something important or prestigious, but those taxes being spent on anything is offensive.

    Does it matter that taxes do pay aspects of that list of activities; things like roads, food and water that don’t poison you, wild life management, fire safety regulations? I’ve never really noticed that having an effect argument having an effect. It could be a pretty deeply entrenched cognitive dissonance by way of the Just World Bias, i.e. I earned what I have more than everyone else.

  • Anonymous

    The very point of taxes is that you’re not necessarily going to use every single service you pay for. In this way, costs are distributed over a lot of people and it’s cheaper for everyone (this is also the logic behind insurance). I may not use every single service, but I’ll use many of them. If people only paid for what they wanted to, the costs of many important services would be prohibitively high. The point of a government is not to make a profit or whatever, and you don’t run your government like you run a business. The point of government is, as the preamble to the constitution puts it, is to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” I.E. provide important services.

    And fiscal responsibility? The amounts we’re talking about in this article are almost nothing. This represents 0.0001326% of the estimated expenditures for the state of Minnesota in 2011 (source: The GOP likes to play at being budget warriors, but none of their proposed cuts would actually shrink the budget in any significant way (though often they will, by sheer coincidence, fuck over a lot of poor people and make themselves and their friends just a little richer).

    I also find the idea that progressives “hate” things like rodeos pretty amusing. It’s not my cup of tea but if that’s what you like to do for fun that’s your prerogative. Cultural activities like that do get government funding, and I hope they continue to get it so the people who want to enjoy them, can.

  • Gregory Smith

    Hunters pay a fortune in hunting FEES and help society control the overpopulation of animals, which is a real problem. The money spent promoting fishing and hunting doesn’t come from the government but from the private sector. The rodeo is very lucrative and not founded from taxpayers, I don’t know where you read that. And yes, I read plenty of books, try “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity” by John Stossel, YOU might learn something.


  • Gregory Smith

    And when the government runs out of money and the Chinese stop lending, what will you say when your income tax goes up 5% or even 10%?


  • Gregory Smith

    Actually, there’s no point in federal taxes, an abomination that came to pass in 1913 thanks to PROGRESSIVE Woodrow Wilson. Back then the tax was meant only for the rich and it was 1%. My, how things change. The dream of George Washington was to fund government expenses with tariffs and lotteries, and it worked quite well until people like FDB, Wilson, Hoover, and LBJ thought the role of government was to help the people.


  • Gregory Smith

    There is no public good, only individual good. If you get a massage does that help me in any way? No. If less than 5% of the population listens to NPR does that help 95% of the population in any way? No. You do what you like, I’ll do the same, and let’s keep the f-cking government out of the way. That’s how freedom works.


  • mu

    You have identified disagreeable opinions and presented them in an inflammatory manner. yes. I am acknowledging that you have ‘trolled’ with a degree of success. You are welcome to move on at this point.

    Are you perhaps a robot? That response doesn’t indicate to me that anything I said was interpreted by a human. Global warming education gay marriage equality.

  • Cherish Bloom


    The money comes from OUR paychecks for programs that WE feel make our country liveable. That’s right. This is OUR money to be used as WE see fit. For US.

    Yet what Matt Dean wants us to believe is that these funds go to support welfare-based programs and to help Johnny Jobless have a check each month that he can blow on beer and lotto tickets.

    Which is probably what you do.

  • Cherish Bloom

    I read that book. Interesting read. I had that placed in the fiction section of my personal library.

    The DNR gets its money from taxes, sales of licenses (another form of tax), fines, and yes… donations.

    Country Music artists actually have a source of funding to host smaller venues in many states, not to mention that the NEA has been known to foot the bill for major talent for all tastes of music.

    While many rodeos are sponsored by major companies, there is always a government-paid review of the treatment of all animals at these events (circuses and zoos, too). Further, some live-animal shows gets some financial support from the government in the form of animal care and education.

    Spending a little tax money on programs that increase the value of our education dollar with hopes that it will raise the value of the future workforce isn’t what I would call a bad investment. Neither does Mr. Gaiman, who you forget, would be happy to do library speeches for free.

    So, shut up, pop open a brew, and make me a sammich, bitch!

  • Cherish Bloom

    Run out of money? how? is there some form of offshore drilling that mines only U.S. Greenbacks? We will never run out of money. Money is not a consumable resource that just “dries up” like oil or precious metals.

    The only way we might come close to “running out of money” is explained in just about every economics book, class, etc. If we stop spending, and if money stops exchanging hands, money will become stagnant and worthless. So when you buy your cheap beer, you’re helping both the economy and fueling government spending.

  • Cherish Bloom

    Tell you what, racist, womanizer… why don’t you take your hunting rifle and go join the biggest welfare agency this world has ever known…

    The U. S, fucking Army.

    “The Army: our money to end the lives of people we don’t even know.”

  • Cherish Bloom

    I’m loathe to admit it, but it’s quite evident that our tax dollars go to ensure that Gregory Smith has food, clothing, a social worker, and medical care. His apparent mental ability seems to be so low that he must be one of those adults that take the short bus to day care where he gets to sit in front of a computer and spew his retarded drivel.