April 2, 2013

Candidate Promises Statue of Free Cheese in Norman, OK

If David Kempf wins the mayoral race on April 2, a bronze statue of Free Cheese based on the People’s Cube design is going to be built in Oklahoma’s third largest city, Norman. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t, since he just received our official endorsement, which he also announced on his website.

Our relationship started after we noticed incoming web traffic from David’s campaign website. We traced the link to a section dedicated to Free Cheese. In a humorous way, the candidate for Mayor of Norman described his attitude towards free government cheese, which he defined as “the extraction of taxes from fellow citizens – from one’s neighbors up and down the street – to support one’s habit or business.” In contrast to his opponents, who enjoy and promote many flavors of what they claim is free government cheese, David would like to focus on the essential services the government was contracted to supply, leaving the cheese business to the local independent dairy operators. 

The page had a link to a discussion of free cheese on the People’s Cube, with testimonies from several immigrants from the former Soviet Union, all of whom agreed that “free cheese can only be found in a mouse trap” – something they had learned from personal life experiences.

We added a playful comment to the thread with a link to David’s campaign, extending our support and asking in return only that he, if elected, issue an executive order requiring all citizens of Norman to read the People’s Cube on a daily basis and maybe erect a gigantic mousetrap on the central square as a reminder of the dangers of free cheese. 

This started an entirely new discussion among our members. Shortly afterwards, David Kempf emailed us with gratitude for our support and a promise that he would propose to the citizens a bronze mousetrap sculpture modeled after our drawing, paid for out of the generous public funding of the Norman Arts Council who are currently spending taxpayers’ money anyway, but on much less meaningful projects.

This will not be our first brush with public statuary projects.

Last month we were contacted by a board member of the Grantham Museum in England, who asked for permission to use our design in their campaign for a Margaret Thatcher statue in Grantham, Lincolnshire, where the Prime Minister was born and raised. Our image of the Iron Lady, captioned as “Iron,” was part of a series of portraits parodying Obama’s “Hope” poster; it has been a popular selling item at our online store, especially to customers in the United Kingdom.

Speaking of the arts, the single biggest influence in the city of Norman is the University of Oklahoma, which also accounts for a vibrant cultural life. Having tried himself in the arts, David Kempf moved on to being a businessman, a software architect, and currently the president and CEO of Port 40, an Oklahoma corporation producing cutting edge computer software. David still supports and spends time with local artists and musicians, and has well-formed opinions on the issue of government funding of the arts, which happen to coincide with ours. He very eloquently lays them out on his website:

Do you support the public funding of the Arts?

Let’s re-phrase the question into something meaningful to the most people:

Do you support the extraction of taxes from people (ultimately, at the point of a gun) to pay certain people chosen by government bureaucrats to display, exhibit, or perform their art?

If I were you, and I were someone trying to make a living from my art, I would be highly offended at the suggestion that the government knows what good art is.

I would be highly offended by the suggestion that selected artists should get government handouts to promote their activities over mine.

The citizens of Norman do not trust their government officials to even set utility rates: all increases must be approved by a vote of the people. Why would we trust the government to dictate the art we promote or consume?

A review of history easily reveals that government supervised artists are indistinguishable from propagandists. If you value your freedom as an artist, you ought to flee from their employment offers with all haste. 
> Most artists strive to be a corporation of one: they desire to give voice to their own thoughts and emotions. If you don’t believe the government should favor one corporation over another in a free-market system, then you shouldn’t stand for your tax dollars being spent promoting your artistic competitors over you.

According to Thomas Jefferson, “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

The only way to avoid all these pitfalls is by the private funding of artists and the arts.

Apparently, if our Free Cheese statue is ever going to be built, it will be with the consent of the taxpayers, from the existing budget of the local Arts Council. According to Kempf, he has been in hot debate with the Council members who are avid supporters of the public funding of the Arts. "They should be pleased,” he adds with irony. David promises that he will propose to the City Council that they erect our statue whether or not he gets elected Mayor.

A successful businessman and a computer scientist trained in logic to solve difficult problems, David Kempf believes in limited government and reads The People’s Cube.

The incumbent Mayor of Norman, on the other hand, is a socialist-leaning ideologue with a left-wing academic background: in other words, a free-cheese-peddling mousetrap operator. 

If I were a resident of Norman, I’d rather have a symbolic bronze mousetrap housed in the public square, as opposed to a real one built around us, as we are being lured with false promises of free cheese.

Oleg Atbashian, a writer and graphic artist from the former USSR, is the author of Shakedown Socialism, of which David Horowitz said, “I hope everyone reads this book.” Oleg is the creator of a satirical website ThePeoplesCube.com, which Rush Limbaugh described on his show as “a Stalinist version of The Onion.”

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