Date: Thu, 22 Jun 1995 09:18:48 -0400


Subject: Re: A Dumb Question about the NEH

Wayne Glowka's comment (question) on possible transfer of NEH money to the

states is not dumb at all. Here's the why not, as far as I can see:

1) there would be 50 bureaucracies for people to deal with instead of

one, requiring many times (though perhaps not 50 times) the support

staff. From what I have seen of NEH, their staff and offices are now

lean and mean, not bloated and ripe for hacking like the Dept. of


2) state funding for individuals (fellowships) would be fine, but as

Wayne suggested it would be very difficult for those of us with

multi-state projects. Even larger projects within each state would have

terrible problems: if each state had $3 million, of which $1 million

went for overhead of different kinds, it would be hard to justify any

large grants owing to the large number of state interests that need to be

satisfied. The Ga Humanities programs dole out $1000 at a time.

3) many of the projects that NEH was established to help---dictionaries,

atlases, editions, translations---are in the national interest, not in

the interest of any state. Dividing up money by state makes every local

interest a player *against* the larger national interest, because state

bureaucracies would want to keep the money at home and not fritter it

away on things that were not of local interest. At best, there would be

an interest in paying scholars and citizens within the state, even if

their projects were national or global, and even that would make it hard

to work collaborations across state lines (as I have attempted several


4) Finally, block grants to states do not always get used for the

purposes one expects them to. One can imagine the (possible) NEH block

grant to Georgia being used to fund Gov. Miller's Country Music Hall of

Fame, or paying for reduced-price movie tickets for urban residents at

midnight (instead of crime-bill basketball), or funding the establishment

of "humanities camps" for first-time offenders that the state didn't want

to pay to put in high-security prison (like our current bootcamps).

While these might be good ideas and even be popular in the state, they

are hardly the kind of scholarly programs that our national NEH supports.

Regards, Bill

Well said, Bill.

Wayne Glowka

Professor of English

Director of Research and Graduate Student Services

Georgia College

Milledgeville, GA 31061