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I enjoy many programs on PBS. I think Sesame Street is a decent show, too, but shouldn't serve as an educational replacement as how many parents use it.
That said, in the modern era, the US Government has no business being involved in a television network. There are thousands of channel choices and plenty of places to have the PBS programming picked up. Heck, PBS has stopped being an innovator and is now an also-ran, copying programs like American Pickers. Food Network and Cooking Channel take the place of the numerous cooking programs on PBS--which I enjoy, mind you--but it's not a monopoly. There are few areas in the nation that don't have some sort of television access, so the original mission of PBS is lessened in many areas.
But if they can get their funding from the public through campaign drives, good on them. I have nothing but respect for those who can work hard and find success through a model they believe in.
Mark Steyn is less accepting than I, saying that PBS shouldn't exist at all. From National Review:
Okay, I may be taking this further than Mitt intended. So let’s go back to his central thrust. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives nearly half a billion dollars a year from taxpayers, which it disburses to PBS stations, who in turn disburse it to Big Bird and Jim Lehrer. I don’t know what Big Bird gets, but, according to Senator Jim DeMint, the president of Sesame Workshop, Gary Knell, received in 2008 a salary of $956,513. In that sense, Big Bird and Senator Harry Reid embody the same mystifying phenomenon: They’ve been in “public service” their entire lives and have somehow wound up as multimillionaires.
Mitt’s decision to strap Big Bird to the roof of his station wagon and drive him to Canada has prompted two counterarguments from Democrats: (1) Half a billion dollars is a mere rounding error in the great sucking maw of the federal budget, so why bother? (2) Everybody loves Sesame Street, so Mitt is making a catastrophic strategic error. On the latter point, whether or not everybody loves Sesame Street, everybody has seen it, and every American under 50 has been weaned on it. So far this century it’s sold nigh on a billion bucks’ worth of merchandising sales (that’s popular toys such as the Subsidize-Me-Elmo doll). If Sesame Street is not commercially viable, then nothing is, and we should just cut to the chase and bail out everything.
Conversely, if this supposed “public” broadcasting brand is capable of standing on its own, then so should it. As for the rest of PBS’s output — the eternal replays of the Peter, Paul & Mary reunion concert, twee Brit sitcoms, Lawrence Welk reruns and therapeutic infomercials — whatever their charms, it is difficult to see why the Brokest Nation in History should be borrowing money from the Chinese Politburo to pay for it. A system by which a Communist party official in Beijing enriches British comedy producers by charging it to American taxpayers with interest is not the most obvious economic model. Yet, as Obama would say, the government did build that.
We're told repeatedly in PBS/NPR pledge drives that their taxpayer funding is minimal and they really need our help to keep them afloat.
Jon Hotchkiss at HuffPo makes a GREAT point:
It's for these reasons -- television's ubiquity and the glut of quality programming -- that we should stop funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, NPR and the yes, even the NEA.
Despite the long history and tradition associated with governments funding creative endeavors -- people are not entitled to art.
Not good art. Not bad art. Not art, period.
And yet -- there should be much more of it and it should be more pervasive (Why, I'd like a Tuscan Fresco on the side of my garage if anyone is interested).
However -- in this economic climate how can liberals ask millionaires and billionaires to pay more in taxes... and then turn around and give some of that money to people who make a living with their hand up a puppet's ass.
If you can calm down long enough to consider this, perhaps you'll come to the same conclusion. Seriously, why do we value the work of artists more than we value the work of say, plumbers?
A plumber's fate is controlled by market forces, true, and nobody can say what she does isn't important.
The point is, to parrot a statement from Mitt Romney, government shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers. The government should make sure that all of its citizens have the opportunity to succeed but not choose who should.