It’s no secret that the United States is in financial trouble. According to the sensory overload Debt Clock website, the national debt is over $16 trillion, and the government is operating at a $1 trillion. As we roll into the 2012 Presidential Election, each candidate has a proposed solution, and Governor Romney’s plan includes a very divisive suggestion to excise non-critical programs and to prevent borrowing money to keep the country afloat.
I’m sorry, Jim [Lehrer], I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.
The federal budget is primarily constructed of Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, Department of Defense, other discretionary spending for the executive departments, and a few other things. Of the proposed $3.8 trillion in expenditures, the federal PBS subsidy is one-one hundredth of one percent of the budget. Within the PBS and NPR umbrella, each station is locally owned and operated, and each taxpayer contributes about $1.35 per day.
Since each station is locally owned and operated, stations in bigger cities don’t worry about losing the funding because they have the benefit of local donations and pledges which make up the lion’s share of their operating budgets. But rural stations, operating in areas that the big broadcasters have long since abandoned, rely on federal funding to stay alive, sometimes to the tune of 50-80% of their budgets. Without the federal subsidy, those stations will need to close. This will remove emergency alerts to those rural areas, excise the arts and education that public broadcasting provides, and, in the end, will cost us small-town American jobs. Yes, in the long-range plan to create jobs for the country, rural American jobs will suffer.
Additionally, one of the rallying points for the numerous attempts to remove the subsidy has been the salaries for CEOs at PBS and NPR. According to reports in early 2011, the PBS President earned $632,233, a former NPR President earned $1.2 million, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting CEO earned $298,884 plus an additional $70,630 in compensation. But in comparison, the subsidy for oil, which is nearly one hundred times larger than the PBS subsidy, is consistently approved and leads to CEO salaries much larger than any of these numbers. Heaven forbid that we actually pay the people who operate a non-profit organization.
I personally know the value of public broadcasting. Growing up, I learned valuable life lessons from Mister Rogers, 3-2-1 Contact, Reading Rainbow, and Sesame Street. I learned the basics of music from The Music Machine, and I learned about geography from Carmen Sandiego. As I entered my teen and adult years, I skipped over the repetitive pop garbage on the commercial stations in lieu of the classical music and arts performances, and I found historical and modern world lessons in documentaries and BBC programs that I never would have known about otherwise. Even today, I get most of my news from podcasts produced by NPR, which I download every day to my iPod.
Finally, the dangers of privatizing networks designed for education are already clear. The Learning Channel was founded in 1972 by NASA and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as an informative network to provide education through television. It was privatized in the 1990s, and now relies on ratings to survive. Hence, we have Honey Boo Boo.
I believe that the assault on public broadcasting and Big Bird is a red herring, and it’s being used to distract us from the important issues of the Presidential campaign. Stripping out PBS funding is contrary to Governor Romney’s stated foci on education and improving employment in the country, and it makes me wonder about the bigger issue behind the decades of attempts to defund public broadcasting. We should be demanding answers to those questions and stop being placated by party lines and hollow promises.
We deserve better.
A rapier, manufactured in the mid-19th century by the technology of the old masters as a gift to one high-ranking person. Such exceptionally flexible rapiers were made in Toledo in the beginning of 17th century. They were sold in gun shops and coiled in a circle to show its flexible properties.
The knight can visit each square on a chess board exactly once
And then I debated whether or not to put it on Tumblr…but I decided it was important. Because in my own way, I can (unfortunately) point out exactly what is wrong with men when they don’t realize how hard it is to be a woman. How we do not have equal opportunities and freedoms in everyday life….
NUMB3RS, “Atomic No. 33”