A quote from Seth Lipsky in the Wall Street Journal today:
Mr. [Juan] Williams, a distinguished figure, has already landed on his feet, with a multi-year contract and an expanded role at Fox News. When the next Congress takes up the NPR question, I hope it considers the lesser lights who have to go out to raise capital to set up their own platforms. Who is going to give them a leg up if they are having to compete with the government of the United States?
I always ask the question here, and not just rhetorically by the way, although you’d think it was as judged by the lack of response, “What kind of government competes against its own citizens?” I mean I really wanted you to ask yourself, and come up with an answer, and post it here, for all to see. But never mind that for now.
In the wake of the outrageous and very revealing (and I think milestone) firing of liberal good-guy Juan Williams from the left-wing National Public Radio (NPR), for simply not toeing the line as documented in the left-wing media guidebook, and for not being excruciatingly politically correct (in other words not speaking left wing/progressive), Americans are asking why it is that American taxpayers are subsidizing the NPR — to the tune of perhaps $3 million dollars per year, representing only 1-3% of their annual budget.
Canadians will take a double-take at that paltry amount, knowing that here in Canada, the state-owned — state OWNED, mind you — and very much state controlled — CBC is funded by taxpayers to the tune of in excess of $1.5 BILLION per year, directly and indirectly. Perhaps much more if you include all the various “cultural” grants and subsidies and programs to fund “Canadian programming”, and myriad programs to support “the arts” (which, alas, has largely become code for, in this case, other left-wing advocacy and causes).
This, in a country with 1/10 the population of the U.S., and an economy measuring an even lesser fraction. But they also know, if they bother to think about it, that in addition to vast sums of taxpayer cash, the state-owned media also enjoy all sorts of government dictated protections from market competition, including rules and regulations and laws of several kinds, and moreover, the bully-pulpit protection courtesy of all the progressives in government bureaucracies, now fully ensconced within government by successive years of liberal-left/progressive rule. And still more protection from what is, irrefutably, a progressive, left-wing media (even the private “competitors” to CBC seem happy to have CBC on board), and of course from the reliably left-wing members of academia, virtually all of whom work within a state-owned, state-funded academic complex, and are therefore state-employed. And politically, (if the forgoing wasn’t enough for you), protections from progressives found within all the Canadian political parties, including even the so-called Conservative Party, which has in fact come out and publicly endorsed the state-owned media. And then of course in the many public sector and other left-wing labor unions, whose members’ salaries we ultimately pay, and from the many other leftists, more generally, who support them all.
And after that double-take, they’ll summarily go back to sleep. And I’m talking about the conservatives among us. This does not make me proud to be Canadian. When Americans see wrong, they lash out and make it right. The tea party comes to mind — and the outcry from all sides over the firing of Juan Williams. When Canadians see wrong, they zip up, trying not to be rude, or something, even while progressives in and out of government run roughshod over them and their nation.
I should know, because I’ve been questioning the existence of (among other things) the state media — the CBC — for years now, laying out example after example of the harm it causes to the freedom of people and to the nation as a whole, and nobody even posts a comment any more. Nobody lifts a finger. Nobody even cares, at least not overtly. “Eureka!” cry the progressives of the nation. “We’ve done it!” and then more quietly, because that’s what they do as wolves in sheeps’ clothing, “Now onto the next step in our Fabian Socialist quest!” And thus there’s a huge cry for nationalized daycare (and “early learning” —wink!) and other specious state-owned, socialist programs, even while we’re in hock up to our eyeballs.
Here’s more points made today in the excellent column by Seth Lipsky:
The Real Case for Defunding NPR
My quarrel with government subsidies is that they cast a chill over the markets in which entrepreneurs seek to raise capital for highbrow journalism.
• South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint issued a statement saying that he would introduce a bill to end federal funding of public broadcasting.
• More than once I have been interrupted, while singing the song of quality journalism to a potential investor, to be asked, “Isn’t this already being done by public broadcasting?”
In the instances when that or similar questions were put to me, I was not even seeking to raise capital for broadcasting but rather for small newspapers—the Jewish Forward, in the 1990s, and then the New York Sun. And I wasn’t entirely hapless. Many millions of dollars were eventually invested in the two newspapers, and any failures they met were not the fault of the government, but were entirely my own.
I have often wondered, though, what effect the government subsidies have on the broader world, in broadcast and print, of quality journalism. I recognize that the percentage of NPR’s funds coming from the taxpayers is but 1% or 2%, or between $1.5 million and $3 million. But whatever the scale, seed capital from a credible investor is an enormous help to any effort, and my own experience is that it would have been easier to raise capital had there been no government-funded competition.
• That would be entirely consonant with the school of economics known as public choice theory, which views the government as having its own economic interests and the state as not a protector but a competitor of private enterprise.