I’m writing from lovely Caribou, ME, where my girlfriend and I are resting after the first day of a rather quixotic quest to travel the entire north-south length of US Route 1. The towns of northern Maine are, shall we say, sleepy in the winter; we have the run of our B&B since we are the only guests here tonight. (Just like the Bates motel — three rooms, three vacancies. Well, without the murders and so forth, one hopes.) According to the innkeepers here, we are not the first to undertake this journey, but perhaps among the few to do so in a Corolla — most of the rest are on motorcycles. Assuming all goes well, we’ll get to Key West by the first week of January and hit up Disney on the way back.

In the meantime, here are some arts/business links.

  • With the Obama inauguration around the corner, there seems to be a sudden surge of interest in national arts policy. Fractured Atlas posted a request for ideas on investing in arts infrastructure. Coming on the heels of RAND’s report on state arts councils (and Isaac’s deconstruction of it), Lesley Friedman Rosenthal drew attention to state and local arts policy with a particular focus on tax strategies in an op-ed for Newsday last week. Despite my own interest in the subject, I’ve mostly refrained from jumping in thus far because I feel like I still have a lot of learning to do. I’m pursuing an independent study on public policy and the arts in the spring and my reading for that effort will no doubt inform my opinions. I do think, though, that before we go nuts with policy recommendations it would help to come to more of an agreement in the field about what it is exactly that the arts are supposed to accomplish. I hope to address this in more detail in the new year.
  • In the meantime, here’s a white paper that was sent to the transition team last month by Americans for the Arts, developed in collaboration with a number of other national arts service organizations. Among other things, it proposes more than doubling the NEA budget, naming a “senior-level administration official” to coordinate arts policy among the various federal agencies, strengthening the relationship between arts organizations and the Corporation for National and Community Service, streamlining the visa process for visiting foreign artists, and ensuring recognition of the arts as a core academic subject in education programs. The document seems well-written and -considered to these still-learning eyes.
  • Via Steven Levitt of the Freakonomics blog, here’s a sprawling article in Bloomberg about what’s happening at the famed “Chicago School” as free-market thinking blows up in everyone’s faces:

    Already, some of the university’s top economists have abandoned hard-line Friedmanism for the middle ground.

    Douglas Diamond, a finance professor at Chicago since 1979, declined to sign Cochrane’s petition damning Paulson’s bailout. Diamond says he knew the Sept. 29 vote against the rescue would spur investors to pull assets from banks. He says governments have no choice but to provide safety nets for banks and tougher oversight.

    “The vote was the beginning of people believing crazy stuff, like the U.S. might find it politically expedient to let its financial system go,” Diamond, 55, says.

    Robert Lucas, a Chicago economist who won a Nobel in 1995 for a theory that argued against governments trying to fine-tune consumer demand, says deregulation may have gone too far. […]

    “I’m changing my views on bank regulation every week,” Lucas, 71, says. “It was an area I saw as under control. Now I don’t believe that.”