There Ought to Be a Law

Brian J. Sullivan

Today is moving day. The actual day when boxes and boxes of packed studio supplies gets physically moved from one location to another via truck and lots of man power. It is not a move I am looking forward to, having lived in my current studio space for over the past ten years. It was nothing fancy, but it was mine and had my stuff scattered all about. My three cats had also claimed their own favorite personal space amongst the clutter. I had owned the building outright after working hard to pay the mortgage off doing odd jobs. I planned to retire there, and probably even would die one day leaning over my heat press.

Now I would have to go through the arduous process of re-establishing a studio in a new location. There would be much down time as I struggled to re-established myself. I am getting too old for this. This is the third time I have been forced out of my own home. Not by gun point, but by a mischievous and deceptive process called property taxes. Suffice it to say that I purchased a run down building in a very bad part of town. In the city where I live, "we the people" passed a referendum to limit the property tax rate. So through bureaucratic double talk my tax rate has not gone up all these years, but the taxes that I pay have skyrocketed. Go figure, I still live in the same house in the same bad neighborhood, yet now my property is worth some imaginary assessed value. The bottom line is that I am being forced out of my house because I cannot afford to pay the property taxes on a place I own free and clear.

If this was an isolated incident I would not be so vocal, yet this is the third time for me. I have also heard countless other artists complain about similar circumstances. Since I am at the lower end of the pay scale, these increases do cause economic hardships. So now I am moving again. "There ought to be a law!" 

And what about health care? We live in one of the richest industrial nations in the world and yet over half of our population goes without proper medical attention. A recent poll I saw showed that if one does not count the coverage of the working spouse of an artist, then most do not have any coverage at all! I am not talking about lazy, unemployed street people who are not covered. I am talking about middle class to upper-middle class hard working American artists who go without coverage. Yet my taxes keep going up to provide aid to the peoples of Iraq and other areas of the world when our own people at home are uninsured. Recent articles in the newspaper discussed the benefits of prison life where inmates get free medical and dental coverage in addition to being on the wait list for organ transplants (and also get free meals and workout gym equipment). Am I missing something here? "There ought to be a law."

And what about this artist pay thing. Most artists work for pennies on the dollar for what they sell their work for. Yet both Christies and Sothebys reported record breaking auction figures for the reselling of an artist's work, none of which went back to the artist. This somehow seems inherently wrong, like during the industrial revolution when factories paid the workers token wages while the factory magnate reaped huge profits. "There ought to be a law."

And finally, what about magazine stories which continue somewhere else in the publication instead on the next consecutive page? I for one hate leafing through pages of ads which don't have page numbers just to locate the continuation of a story. "There's just got to be a law."