Paul Jacob

But I oppose National Public Radio for the same reason I opposed the Bush Administration spending public money compensating columnists to write favorable opinion articles. A free press is undermined when government controls or competes with private media. State-run, state-owned or state-subsidized media is a bad idea, whether in Egypt, Iran, China or these United States.

In addition to saving precious dollars, zeroing-out funding for public propaganda is a positive for freedom. For Democrats and most progressives, having a government-funded media news source is essential to block “corporate influence.” Never mind that “corporate” media aren’t terribly “conservative” — consider the “right-wing” MSNBC.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) warned Republicans they would face a “razor blade-sharp reaction from the American people as they find . . . there is radio silence.” Silence? (Well, maybe, static hiss.) Of course, even NPR officials say they raise enough private funding to manage without the public subsidy.

Others simply hate commercials — as if NPR’s plugs for outfits that give them money don’t count as commercials. But the fervent desire for fewer commercials is at least understandable.

What’s not understandable is the over-riding issue lost in jabber about whether some of us have to listen to commercials: If we cannot cut funding for radio or TV programming, where should the cuts be made?

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) argued that NPR “programming is vital to over 27 million Americans.”

Vital?

Forget that there seems already to be a healthy abundance of TV and radio news and entertainment. Even if there were not, is NPR more necessary for life than food, shelter, medical care and education?

What school kid should get shortchanged, what medical treatment refused, what soldier denied better equipment, before we risk the possibility that a local radio station might go out of business?

Should we risk financial meltdown to make certain “Car Talk” gets its piece of the borrowed federal pie?

If we can’t deny ourselves the luxury of lavishing funds on someone’s favorite TV or radio program, we will not survive.

In that case, we’ll need all the diversionary entertainment we can get.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.