Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Obama Record for Collectors: Not a Good One

President Obama's reelection efforts will not rise or fall on his Administration's position on ancient coin collecting, but his record on cultural patrimony issues is worth recounting because of the stark contrast between the Administration's rhetoric and the dismal reality of its actions.

Transparency-  The rhetoric:  President Obama promised that his Administration would be the most transparent in history.   The reality:  The Obama State Department has refused to release the most basic information about its decision making on import restrictions on cultural goods.  Moreover, the Administration has started closing interim reviews of MOUs.  This contrasts with the practice of the Bush Administration, which allowed the public to comment at CPAC meetings whether Italy and Cyprus had met their own obligations under MOU's.  For now at least, the public can still comment before MOU's are renewed.

Overregulation of Small Business:  The rhetoric:  The President claims to be against overregulating small business.  The reality:   The Obama Administration has extended difficult to comply with import restrictions to Greek and Roman coins from Italy and Greece (the heart of the ancient coin market), and will likely add Bulgarian coins to the list soon as well.   In so doing, the Administration has ignored multiple requests for meetings to discuss compliance issues from different coin groups, has offered only condescending responses to bipartisan Congressional inquiries (including one coordinated from the office of Republican VP Candidate Congressman Ryan), and has packed CPAC with academics with little sympathy for such concerns.

China:  The rhetoric:  The President claims he will be tough on Chinese "cheating."  The reality:  The Obama State Department has closed a CPAC meeting to discuss the interim review of the Chinese MOU.  CPAC should be discussing how import restrictions have done little but empower Chinese auction houses linked to the country's ruling elite, but the State Department will instead likely take advantage of this secrecy to spoon feed CPAC a wildly different version of whether import restrictions have been successful.


Paul Barford said...

Tell us about collectors of nineteenth century landscapes and maritime paintings, World War Two memorabilia, vintage bottles dug from latrine pits, collectors of engravings, first edition American novels or illustrated books, vintage cars, modern commemorative coins, or stamps and native American arrowheads. Are they all criticising Obama too for similar reasons?

Or is it just one small group in the US collecting world (who apparently considers itself to be some kind of an elite group elected to speak for the rest) that has problems following the laws?

If the latter, perhaps you would amend the title of the post to reflect that?

You persist in talking about "Archaeology uber alles", are you not here guilty of just such a pars pro toto approach?

Cultural Property Observer said...
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Cultural Property Observer said...

I don't get your point; collectors of other artifacts should also be concerned, the reach of restrictions is now into the 19th. century.

Speaking of small numbers, the whole Cultural Heritage Center seems to cater to a very small group of academics, and as we have seen the actual support for import restrictions is puny.

At one of the debates, Romney suggested the test of any government program should be whether it is worth borrowing money from China to fund. Certainly, this program would not meet that test and should be gutted.