Stop Funding Public Broadcasting
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by David Miller

Although I do not watch PBS, I am sure they show worthwhile programs.   I have, however, vowed never to let my kids watch Barney.  I started listening to NPR during the Persian Gulf War, and I continued listening regularly throughout the '92 election.  I don't listen much anymore, but I do like having an alternative to the music and advertisement mix on other channels.

If there were an informal poll taken today asking simply if I like the overall offerings of public radio and TV, I would answer "yes".  Asking if federal government should extract money from citizens to pay for these programs is a different question; a question that supersedes discussion of personal preference.

It is not good enough to say that PBS should be federally funded because I like it.  I also like "Beavis and Butthead".  Should the government pay for it?

Arguing that NPR is informative is not sufficient grounds for government subsidization.  Rush Limbaugh is informative. He adds his own slant to the news (just like NPR), and yet government compulsion is not among his fund raising tactics.

The most pernicous reason for having coercively financed programming is majority rule.  If most people want public TV, and most people deem it to be wholesome, it is still not right to force all people to pay for it.  How can a group govern themselves democratically when the majority can vote themselves benefits (i.e., money for TV shows) to be paid in part or in full by the minority?  The answer is to have a limited role for the federal government, one that does not lend itself to such abuse.  Entertainment, albeit quality entertainment, is not part of that limited role.

Government refusal to garnish wages to fund public radio and TV programming does not mean that the programs cannot or should not exist.  In a free market, services that individuals are most interested in will not fail for lack of money.  If shows on public TV fail without government props, why was the government using people's money to buy for them something that they would not buy for themselves?  The services desired by the minority will survive as well, on a scale proportional to the market segment supporting them.  PBS should die if it can't compete with the Pro Bowling Tour (which survives on pay TV).  The free market system is the perfect form of democracy; every person casts a vote every day with each penny they spend.


This page was last updated 07/02/00 01:50 PM