I joined some friends for dinner in Seattle on Saturday evening. Afterwards, the sun having decided to make an appearance, I decided to take a stroll around Downtown and was drawn to Westlake Park by the boisterous sounds of Seattle’s own Titanium Sporkestra, who bill themselves as a renegade marching band playing anything from Black Sabbath to gypsy anthems. They had attracted quite the crowd and young and old alike were having a great time.
I make it a habit of not giving money to people on the street (I prefer to give food) but I gladly make exceptions for street performers as I did on Saturday. I don’t know whether they had a permit to play (considering the size of their band I assume they did), but I really don’t care. I see performers like the Titanium Sporkestra, the a capella group, A Moment in Time, who perform in front of the original Starbucks, or the sadly passed “Tuba Man” as performing a service in the free market. I was able to stand there and listen to a few songs all for the bargain price of a couple bucks (or even free, had I so chosen) and they were able to rake in hundreds of bucks (I even spotted a $100 bill in the jar they passed around to great reception after each song) to pay for their jaunts to events like Austin’s SXSW, their latte’s or maybe even Obama’s re-election campaign. (I suspect, despite their capitalist pursuits, a fair number of them probably aren’t Republicans.) Even better, their performance was brought to you by the free-market (and, yes, you can argue that the park was provided by government and it’s possible they’ve even received a government grant in their day, but just go with me on this). Nick Licata didn’t have to direct several thousand dollars of taxes to a program to get them to play. Sally Clark didn’t have to go around town handing out flyers and putting up posters announcing the event. It all just happened thanks to the independent and entrepreneurial spirit that exists even here and would, no doubt, exist in an even greater capacity if government would just get out of the way. There’s absolutely zero need for a government appointed Arts Commission or Office of Cultural Affairs. Not only is it not necessary, but by relegating some of the arts to the purview of the bureaucracy, a strong argument can be made that the creativity of the artists is being stifled.
As a juxtaposition, on the other side of Pine Street, Key Bank has set up a nice little area with tables and chairs for people to enjoy the rare sunny weekend. Again, this brought to you by the free market.
And the wonders of the free market don’t stop there. Also gracing the intersection of Fourth & Pine were two wildly different religious groups, a Christian Evangelical handing out tracts about the love of Christ and a group of Black “Hebrews” spreading a racist message (think “Nation of Islam” except they’re wearing Stars of David). At least they were doing it passively. Neither group was state mandated or forcing their ideology on anyone. The free market will direct people toward the best ideology.