Thursday, June 30, 2005
PBS takes from the poor to feather Big Bird's nest.
PBS has its taxpayer subsidy fully restored! David Broder reports the part of the story most others omit:
The victory that public television won last week when the House restored the committee-mandated 25 percent cut in its funds came at a price. That price will be paid, as is so often the case in today's Washington, by the people who depend on government help for essential health care and education and job-training services....We've all heard the PBS marketing line "If PBS doesn't do it, who will?", and all know the answer is the Discovery and History Channels plus 20 other cable channels and countless Internet resources.
In reversing the $100 million reduction the Appropriations Committee had ordered ... more than half of the $100 million came out of the Labor Department's training and employment services programs.... There was a small nick -- about $3 million -- in health programs and a much bigger whack at higher education funds, $27 million....
Those cuts ... include a 50 percent cut in the Community College Initiative from the current year, despite those colleges' critical role in upgrading workers' skills; a similar cut in Community Services Block Grants that provide housing, child care and emergency food assistance to the needy; and ... an 87 percent cut in the International Labor Affairs Bureau. And the list goes on....
it is a fact ... that the broadcast stations and their audiences have far more influence on Congress than most low-income Americans possess.
The New York Times, in its report on the House action, made no mention of the offsetting cuts... [Hat tip, Viking Pundit]
Maybe we should now ask the question: If PBS does do it, who will provide the job training, community service grants, child care...?
The PR campaign used to get all the money back to PBS was filled with scare claims from the political left about the imminent deaths of Big Bird, Clifford the Big Red Dog and other innocent animals (a famously time-proven marketing ploy), e.g.:
The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year—$100 million—and end funding altogether within two years.1 In particular, the loss could kill beloved children`s shows like "Sesame Street," "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur"...... and ...
If we can reach 250,000 signatures by the end of the week, we`ll put Congress on notice. After you sign the petition, please pass this message along to any friends, neighbors or co-workers who count on NPR and PBS... [Moveon.org]
The proposed cuts include $23.4 million in federal funds for children's educational shows, such as "Sesame Street," "Clifford the Big Red Dog," and "Arthur." The loss of these shows would deprive millions of American children of valuable educational programming... [Common Cause]... with even the NY Times leading its coverage with...
The spending bill [would] eliminate a $23 million federal program that has provided some money for producing children's shows that include "Sesame Street"...But wait a minute ... Sesame Workshop reports net asset holdings of $218 million (up $6 million for the year) against annual program services cost of only $76 million.
So just off its money in the bank it could produce its product for almost three years with no revenue from anybody. How many other businesses can say such a thing?
Hey, with that kind of excess capital in the vault, Sesame Workshop could be an investment bank for Clifford the Big Red Dog and Arthur whatever-he-is.
So there we have it, another example of the "reality based community" in action. Perhaps PBS will use its replenished coffers to produce a new game show "Whose Reality Is It, Anyway?"