The Big Bird Debate
Did any of you hear the screaming that has commenced about Romney’s promise to cut public funding for PBS?
When you put it like that, it sure seems trival doesn’t it? But let’s look a little deeper. How many dollars do you think .012% equals? We should probably start with taking a look at the budget – oh wait, I forgot - we don’t need no stinking budget. So how much is this pittance that PBS receives? A mere half billion. I mean why all the fuss over such a paltry sum? Any of us would scoff at having a mere half BILLION dollars in our Christmas stocking. Right? (For the record, anyone who wishes to deposit said sum in my Christmas stocking will receive a guarantee of a really nice card every year.)
So maybe you are actually on the side of Big Bird in this one. You feel it is an investment well made. It’s not like any other station is capable of producing these shows – well except for any of those commercial stations that produce award winning series year after year. But I digress, your kids REALLY enjoy Sesame Street. How is PBS spending that money? Surely, the executives equate themselves with the 99%. This is all about serving the public.
The head of PBS surely takes home a mere pittance really.
PBS President Paula Kerger even recorded a personal television appeal that told viewers exactly how to contact members of Congress in order to “let your representative know how you feel about the elimination of funding for public broadcasting.” But if PBS can pay Ms. Kerger $632,233 in annual compensation—as reported on the 990 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file—surely it can operate without tax dollars. (Emphasis mine)
The executives at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which distributes the taxpayer money allocated for public broadcasting to other stations, are also generously compensated. According to CPB’s 2009 tax forms, President and CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison received $298,884 in reportable compensation and another $70,630 in other compensation from the organization and related organizations that year.
Hard to see how the poor dears make groceries every week.
But NPR – now that’s a solid investment. Those guys probably shop at Goodwill. After all public service is not about becoming millionaires.
That’s practically a pittance compared to Kevin Klose, president emeritus of NPR, who received more than $1.2 million in compensation, according to the tax forms the nonprofit filed in 2009.
Suppose you can get over the billions and billions we spend each year that flows into the pockets of these PUBLIC BROADCASTING executives, after all, why all the fuss over such a pittance of money that is just a drop in the bucket? First, even if you empty a bucket a drop at a time, you will eventually empty it and conversely, even if you fill it a drop at a time, it will eventually overflow. People – our bucket is in serious overflow. Last year alone, our deficit exceeded a trillion dollars (that’s NINE ZEROES)! It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if we keep putting drops in that bucket, we will soon need to count in googolplex. The entire mess reminds me of the age old question of how do you eat an elephant. The answer? One bite at a time. We need to start taking bites rather than adding drops to our bucket and we need to start now.
Mark Steyn applies his usual fare of excellence and humor to the subject over at NRO. Be sure to check it out.
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