LAST EDITED ON 10-05-12 AT 07:35 PM (EST)
Just popped in for a moment. Love the picture.
The reason to cut funding for PBS isn't the share of the budget. It's simply because governing is about making choices, and in the current environment, with 200,000 or so for-profit cable channels out there, federal funding of PBS is dispensable.
NET (National Educational Television), the predecessor to PBS, dates back to the death of the DuMont Network in the 1950s. VHF was saturated, and the FCC was trying to make a role for UHF. The Ford Foundation decided to fund an educational television network on UHF in 1952 and then expanded it in order to utilize the stations (including a few VHF stations) that had been started to be part of DuMont but had been left high and dry when DuMont failed.
When the Ford Foundation withdrew its support in the mid-1960s, the federal government stepped in, because it was considered so problematic to let NET fail, because that would only leave 3 networks in the US. The feds set up the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1967 as a stopgap means to keep NET from going off the air.
But NEVER did anyone discuss that the U.S. government would permanently fund a TV network. And yet the U.S. government's stopgap funding has now gone on for 45 years, DESPITE the addition of hundreds of cable channels. To keep Sesame Street on PBS, CPB allows Children's Television Workshop (the show's creators) to retain almost every penny of the tens of millions that the show generates annually in marketing revenue.
So ... we're borrowing money from China so that CTW can produce versions of Sesame Street around the world. Most of them lose money, but the marketing revenue from the US keeps them going. In effect, US citizens are stuck with the bill for Sesame Street being shown in foreign countries. How does that make any sense when our current deficit is over $1 trillion per year and our federal debt is over $16 trillion?
When you look at it like that, continued US support for CPB is preposterous. Part of governing means realizing that the U.S. Constitution provides only a limited role for government. In some cases, government may be able to help a transition, as it did when it set up CPB. But 45 years is more than long enough for NET/PBS to transition....
P.S. The US set up limitations on sugar imports from Latin and South America during WWII as a temporary wartime measure. They're still around. But they shouldn't be. It's a question of political courage, something both Bush and Obama completely lack.