Saturday, March 19, 2011

In which I start whimsical, go political, and end with a reprimand.

Want to do something fun with your toddler?  Watch old Sesame Street videos on YouTube.  I don’t know what they’re showing on Sesame Street these days, but the songs and episodes I remember from my childhood are pretty awesome.  That said, Charles really loves the Katy Perry/Elmo video (the one that was banned).


So what do you think about Congress de-funding public broadcasting?  I have mixed feelings.  For one, if people across the nation really want to keep PBS, then they would pay for it, right?  Except that they don’t, because I think those programs are great, but I have never given to a phone drive for funding to keep them on the air.  And I’ve been thinking about that a bit lately because one of my favorite radio stations (the classical station out of Seattle) is going public this summer and I really feel I should support it since it is probably the number one station played in my car. 


But I think that a lot of people are like us – we are happy to give for big, disastrous events, and also for things like children and ministries in 3rd world countries (Tony and I sponsor a child in Africa through World Vision and we do Christmas boxes through Samaritan’s Purse), but ongoing upkeep of philanthropic organizations or public broadcasting or whatever takes a backseat. 


Additionally, there are probably lots of people who benefit from programs like Sesame Street who are not able to donate.  Kids whose parents have to work more than I do and so the TV is on a bit more than it is in our house.  No one can deny that programs like Sesame Street are educational.


So then we have funding from the government.  Which, in one argument, it’s not the government’s responsibility to fund television, public or no, good programs or not.  BUT.  If we put programs like Sesame Street, Arthur, etc, into the category of education and childcare, then one could argue that by boosting public broadcasting, we are boosting child/family services. 


HOWEVER, the economy is really, really bad right now, and Congress doesn’t have the funding to keep all the programs it has funded in the past, and regardless of whether or not you agree with which cuts have to be made, the point stands that cuts have to be made.  So where should we make them?  To an organization like PBS that could potentially (and arguably should) find sustainable funding elsewhere, or to DSHS or K-12 education, or transportation/road infrastructure, or defense and national security (and lots more essential services)?


I think Congress is doing their best to find the cuts that will hurt the least, because they will all hurt to some degree.  Would it be nice if the government could continue to fund PBS?  Yes.  Maybe it will be able to do so in the future.  Or maybe PBS will innovate to the point that it has sustainable funding from some organization or pledge drives or whatever.


I have to say, however, that I don’t mind de-funding NPR AT ALL.  PBS is pretty politically neutral, mostly educational, etc, while NPR is not.  AND, I think the programs on NPR would probably be easily picked up by sustainably-funded (read: commercial) radio stations without any problem. 


I usually try to keep out of politics, but one thing that has become clear at both the state and federal level is that some things will have to go.  At this point, the people we elected have to make some very tough decisions on what to fund and what to cut.  I do not envy them their positions, but I do wish them good luck.  And for God’s sake, don’t anyone dare say something like, “well, I didn’t elect those people.”  Because we live in a representative government, a democratic republic, and when we elect representatives, we all do so.  Obama is my president, whether or not I voted for him.  Gregoire is my governor, whether or not I voted for her… and on down the line.  Healthy debate is good, but I have had enough of the last decade of people saying stupid things like “he’s not my president” because that’s not how it works.

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