The Republican governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, has recently been wondering aloud whether state-funded institutions of higher education should offer course work not directly leading to well-paying jobs. It’s a front-frontal attack on the arts, among other things, from a governor who has made a habit of doing so throughout his career — notwithstanding that Bevin’s undergraduate major was East Asian Studies. In response to the governor’s latest broadside — this time against interpretive dance students — universities and students have been ferociously responding; one local newspaper wrote that when Bevin “put down liberal-arts degrees and interpretive-dance majors, he sank to a new level of pandering.”
Of course, not everybody disagrees with Gov. Bevin. The following is a personal letter that was recently provided to The Clyde Fitch Report by one of his constituents, Cledus Grissom.
Dear Governor Bevin:
I guess you’d call this kind of a fan letter. I don’t write many letters. Don’t write much of anything, truth to tell, but I just had to let you know how thankful I am for a politician that finally understands simple facts. We’re talking here about your speech about the universities and how they ought to teach things that make people some damn money. Well, yeah.
Billy Ray Cyrus (remember “Achy, Breaky Heart”?) was one of the biggest music stars on the planet. He came from Kentucky. Did he need state money for four years or more to attend a state university, to do what he done? Nossir. What Billy Ray needed was what he already had: pure-dee, inborn talent. His brother Kebo, by the way, with his bands Chainsaw Country and ReverbNation, might be even better than Billy Ray, and he didn’t need no damn university, either.
What is Kentucky best known for? I’ll tell you. It’s three things: bourbon whiskey, fast horses and Col. Sanders’ chicken. How many classes in Anthony Trollope do you need to brew the whiskey? How many classes in ballet to run a horse farm? How much instruction in European history to fry chicken? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against old Trollope. I’m not necessarily against dancing matches, even. Although, honestly, I don’t much care for the queers. My point is simple: Why should a hardworking, taxpaying truck driver like me pay for people to study this stuff?
I actually put that question to a neighbor fellow, real nice man, retired from the university (go ‘Cats!). He gave me a long lot of hoo-raw about how Mr. Trollope and Mr. Picasso and the dancing people make life so much richer. For everybody, he said. Right. You know what would make my life richer? A thousand dollars a week, that’s what.
To be real honest about it, I’ve about lost all trust in anything making my life better, let alone my boy’s. If my boy was better at math, he could maybe go to the university the way you say, and study engineering. Know what he’d do with that engineering degree? Make a driverless truck so his old man’ll have to rely on a marijuana patch or move to Louisville and scrub toilets, I guess. But he’s not getting a degree in engineering or anything else. He’ll work at the warehouse until he’s all broke down, and then he’ll get on Medicaid and SSI and probably drink and smoke himself to an early grave. That’s the way it is.
At least, though, all those taxes he pays won’t educate any sociologists or goddamn wannabe Picassos painting nekkid women for hire. Thank you, Governor Bevin. I think I speak for all good Kentuckians. You’re the man.