To paraphrase the Declaration of Independence: Governments are instituted among men in order to secure man’s inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and banjo museums.
The Earle Scruggs Center is a museum located in Shelby, NC that showcases “the life story of legendary five-string banjo master and Cleveland County native Earl Scruggs,” along with the “cultural traditions” of the nearby Flint Hills community in which Scruggs was born and raised.
Does such a museum sound like a “core function” of state government, a reason governments are “instituted among men”? Apparently, state legislators believe so, as evinced by the $250,000 in taxpayer funds allocated to the museum in this year’s state budget.
The funds were directed to the Scruggs Center via a “state aid” appropriation from the Commerce Department. After months of negotiations and haggling over big-ticket items like teacher pay and Medicaid, state budget writers decided that a quarter-million taxpayer dollars should be instead redirected to a museum dedicated to a banjo player.
The museum reportedly cost $6.2 million and is housed in the restored Cleveland County Courthouse. It had its grand opening in January of this year.
Time will tell if the museum continues to receive taxpayer subsidies.
Because it uses taxpayer dollars to fund an attraction that should be supported by voluntary donations and comes nowhere close to qualifying as a core function of state government, the Earle Scruggs Center is this week’s Waste of the Week.