Billboard to Nowhere

I recently came across this article: “Ghost Billboard Erected on U.S.-Canada Border.” The title says it all, there is a large metallic outline of a billboard near the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington. According to the artists, the purpose of this billboard is to:

Their hope is that their sign, flying by enigmatically (“What was that?”), will add a little bit of awareness to the whole signage landscape in the border zone.

I hope you like it, you helped pay for it. During times of cut-backs in the private sector, and voiced government concern over the deficit, why are we paying for this stuff? To me, the piece is even quite visually appealing, but if this really adds value to society there are foundations out there that will give grants to pay for these types of things. With no real budgetary pressure to efficiently allocate resources, governments have no way to figure out the appropriate amount or type of art in society.

Perhaps an “opt in” box on your annual tax bill? Those who want to see this kind of stuff can voluntarily contribute towards it. I suspect their overall budget, if it relied on voluntary contributions, would drop tremendously. And despite their recent award for transparency, the 20 minutes I spent trying to figure out how much money this project cost (or how much money is spent commissioning projects of this type per year) proved fruitless.

An interesting contrast: in America, media and art are subsidized by government. In China, media and art are censored by government. Many parties are unhappy with these outcomes, except for the respective governments.