One could start cutting millions if one wants to cut trillions. While a single step on the journey to a thousand 16 billions couldn't hurt, one should always remember that Sesame Street teaches whippersnappers counting and not basic economics. Impressionable youths would presumably be shaken by seeing Oscar the Grouch living in a Hefty bag, but the lesson that nothing is free is one that we clearly need to teach as soon as children become interested in puppets.
The impossibly naïve world depicted in the stodgy public broadcaster's children's programming explains why some who are according to their birth year adults are so afraid of confronting financial peril. Wasteful spending on things like a profitable show for kiddies or unprofitable art is not okay even during flush times and even less so when debt is well into 14 figures.
Art is nice! Now that that's out of the way, conservatives have no issue with pretty paintings or sculptures whether or not they are of nudie ladies any more than they have a problem with hybrid cars or birth control. But everyone in every industry can pay their own way. Paint pros can buy their own canvases and find someone who feels the time and materials spent creating beauty are worth a purchase.
Some creators are so fiercely independent that they need federal backing to share their message. Every federal grant is an endorsement of specific speech, which fails to excite liberal free speech absolutists similar to how they don't care about Gitmo anymore. People who routinely proclaim platitudes about how they loathe censorship like the government as long as it's backing their side. And they're not about to grasp free market principles if they're cashing checks from the non-teaching NEA.
Public broadcasting would be unacceptable even if they showed good things. The issue doesn't pertain to the programming's quality. PBS could broadcast ice hockey, swimsuit issue making-of features, and Ronald Reagan speeches, and I'd still be fundamentally opposed. It's not the content's quality: it's that the government pushes content at all. The condescendingly dull left-wing tripe they actually do regrettably share may soothe faux intellectuals, which is only the second-best reason to cut their programs.
Paying for others' broadcasting options still objectionable even if we're doing well. But America's present scour-the-trash-for-bottle-deposit-nickels economy sucks, meaning it's merely a worse time to back shows. Increasing Sesame Street's funding didn't exactly create the sort of happiness depicted on the block. All we get in exchange is a twinkletoes version of history compulsorily produced by taxpayers.
A subsidy should be cut if the recipient can or can't survive without it. If the network offers something worthwhile, they can find viewers to pledge; if they can't generate revenue, they don't deserve our support. As with Solyndra, you can perpetrate any silly junk you'd like as long as you're maxing out your own credit cards. We'll be a little more free once our elected overlords is no longer picking winners and losers in the art game.
Soon, we may choose a candidate who embraces the mentality that any superfluous spending is unacceptable. Mitt Romney acknowledges that the government has a role in ensuring that barbarians don't break into your television station and start showing pirate-themed movies. But it's not the same government's role to make shows themselves. The people who bring you Amtrak and, eventually, the mail aren't suddenly going to be great at pleasing television users.
It can't be that we once had a federal apparatus that put enemies in their place and built highways instead of producing stultifying television, can it? Crazy right-wingers who pay attention to the Constitution tire of bureaucrats adding content on our dime instead of creating an environment where entrepreneurs who want to share shows are able to do so. Competing with private studios is a notion that was misplaced decades ago. But losing has never dissuaded big statists.
The money spent by every taxpayer to keep preschool kids entertained is more about misappropriated paternalism the half a billion PBS gets. That said, wasting enough hundreds of millions might just start to add up to insurmountable debt one of these days, perhaps tomorrow. Even worse, the dreary contributions to programming embody how the feds are involved in every little thing. Get the government out of our channel guides.
Everyone can make a claim for public support if there is a single show supported by tax money, especially if that show is hosted by Ira Glass. Meanwhile, supporters of federal profligacy still hasn't heard of cable. The news that hundreds of channels are available via a beam sent from space might cause them to panic with insanity like an awaken coma victim who is just now learning that Joe Biden is vice president.
It's not as if people could make decisions about which programming succeeds with their own. For an example of greedy depravity, one of the diabolical Kochs gives so much to the arts that he has a Lincoln Center theater named after him. Bloated television's whiny defenders can't do anything on PBS's behalf like donate, as deciding who gets help is apparently Washington's job. Realizing how much independence we've ceded is helpful in case you're wondering why the only economic aspect that's up is the debt.
Those who like everything about this country but personal liberty and its founding values will continue to admire more progressive European democracies that decide what art deserves money because nobody buys play tickets. Free will is opposed by producers of content whose best case for remaining on the dole is that they wouldn't be able to give it away without your involuntary contributions. Need a distraction? Remember: “Big Bird!” is the new “Squirrel!”
Anthony Bialy is a writer and “Red Eye” conservative in New York City. He tweets at http://twitter.com/AnthonyBialy.