June 4, 2017

"As changing technologies and preferences make government-funded broadcasting increasingly preposterous, such broadcasting actually becomes useful by illustrating two dismal facts."

"One is the immortality of entitlements that especially benefit those among society’s articulate upper reaches who feel entitled. The other fact is how impervious government programs are to evidence incompatible with their premises.... America, which is entertaining itself to inanition, has never experienced a scarcity of entertainment. Or a need for government-subsidized journalism that reports on the government."

Writes George Will in The Washington Post. 

49 comments:

Gahrie said...

George finally writes something I can agree with.

Gahrie said...

His last paragraph is the most important:

Long ago — in January — there was bold Republican talk about Congress restoring “regular order”: There would be 12 appropriations bills, and they would be enacted before the 2018 fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Instead, there probably will be another “swallow this or shutter the government” omnibus bill in which almost everything survives by sparing almost everyone the torture of choices. This is, of course, a choice.

This is why Trump exists. We have a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican president and they still refuse to pass budget bills and reduce the size/cost of government.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth! Ronald Reagan

rhhardin said...

Government funded has the slight advantage that the target audience is only indirectly soap opera women, by way of the needs of the pols who in turn are free riding on the MSM's need for soap opera women.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Government is the Liberals God. Democrats worship government. Would you agree to restrictions on your religion? Well that is how the Left looks at elimination of government support of public broadcasting.

No matter what the data says about the need for or the results of government programs their never ending expansion is always supported by Democrats. Government is the religion of the Leftists. Democrats worship all things government.

urbane legend said...

Diogenes of Sinope said...
No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size.

When people tell me, "The government should stop this, or that" I always tell them what you said.

Same thing for term limits. "We need term limits." Me: "Do you actually think Congress will vote limits on itself?"

Amadeus 48 said...

See Frederic Bastiat (the greatest Frenchman) regarding a scheme to promote some interest by raising and spending a million francs per year by imposing a one franc tax on a million people. When it is proposed to end the scheme, the beneficiaries will form a political movement to save their million francs in benefits, while any individual taxpayer only has one franc per year at risk. The taxpayers don't have a chance.

See also Mancur Olson on public choice theory.

Mrs. X said...

"Why Government Funding Hurts PBS and NPR"

If the federal government were to cut off funding for public broadcasting, the programs that so many of us cherish not only wouldn't disappear, they would have a better chance of surviving long into the future...

When the Public Broadcasting Act became law, maintaining a network of regional stations was the only way to insure that every American household had access to public television and radio content. Today, this decentralized system isn't necessary because it's possible to stream or download NPR or PBS content from anywhere in the world. As audiences moves online, the regional stations supported by the federal government are becoming unnecessary.

It's not just that these stations have become a waste of taxpayer money—they also present an obstacle to online distribution. The advent of podcasting, for example, was a singular opportunity for NPR to capitalize big on a new way of distributing its rich content. Today, NPR publishes several of the top podcasts, but in a concession to the stations, it forbids show hosts from promoting podcasts on the radio or from even mentioning NPR's popular smartphone app. Station opposition is also the reason that podcast listeners can't download episodes of NPR's two top programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered.


As Instapundit says, read the whole thing.

http://reason.com/reasontv/2017/02/17/public-broadcasting-end-federal-dollars

AReasonableMan said...

I don't have a problem with PBS. I regularly listen to 'All things considered' and 'Marketplace'. Both are excellent programs. Other than these programs my local station devotes most of its air time to classical music. In general I don't like classical music but I do recognize that it is one of the pillars of western civilization.

Amadeus 48 said...

Regarding CPB, how many Yanni and Kenny G concert re-runs can you stand during pledge month? How about the salute to Les Miserables with the 20 Jean Valjeans from around the world? Haven't seen that more than 25 times. That gag was old when Ed Sullivan did it with the 17 Henry Higginses from My Fair Lady productions around the world in 1957.

Yeah, that Public Broadcasting programming is really great. With their cutting edge Breaking Bad, and the Sopranos, and the Night Manager, the Wire, and ...oh,wait...

AReasonableMan said...

Amadeus 48 said...
how many Yanni and Kenny G concert re-runs can you stand during pledge month?


I can only speak for my local station but they wouldn't be caught dead playing either of these guys. They do run 'Echoes' on Sunday night, which I also like when driving.

Michael K said...

there was bold Republican talk about Congress restoring “regular order”: There would be 12 appropriations bills, and they would be enacted before the 2018 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

I have been talking and writing about this since the election. The failure to do this is evidence of the failure of Ryan and McConnell to be serious about governing.

Will has been wrong about most things since the GOP Convention but he is right about this.

Amadeus 48 said...

Talk about rubes, look in the mirror, pal.

NPR = mental chewing gum for humanities professors. They don't want anything that disturbs the reveries.

All Things Considered = Some Things Considered.

Bruce Hayden said...

"PBS and Public Radio is of much higher quality than what the free market produces. It is the same reason why we have public support for symphonies and art museums. It is actually quite conservative to not want all of our culture reduced to lowest common denominator rubbish that the free market often produces."

This is the problem in one short paragraph. One of our resident knee jerk leftists here believes that we should support his definition of quality, because he is obviously so much more discerning about these sort of things. Never mind that the economic class that most appreciates symphonies and art museums the most is also the one that could most easily support those activities themselves, with no public support. And often does.

The other part of this though is that so much of the content is so unselfconsciously leftist. Not the symphonies and music, really, but most of the rest. When you listen to it a lot, most of it seems pretty middle of the road (not Diane Rehm of course - she can't hide her whakadoodle leftist elitism). But, if you don't listen for awhile, then go back, you discern the biases in pretty much everything they play that was produced in the US (ok, I admit that I have a weakness for a lot of what they import from the BBC). I don't mind the left leg Bing in their own media bubble - just that they insist, at the point of a gun, that the rest of us help fund it.

Jay Vogt said...

George Will's overwriting has become nearly comical.

That said, of course he's right.

Still I'm a listener. Their news/comment programming is to be sure, reliably statist, however it it does have an easier pace and less breathless quailty to it. Really though, they're not providing any unique content, nor are they providing information to an underserved market.

Where they do shine (at least in my market) in in music programming. They provide smart yet accessible classical and new "world", americana, and real alternative contemporary music. Yes, all of that is accessible on the internet now, but there's something about hearing it in a warm, FM, analog format.

Bruce Hayden said...

IOS Spellcheck strikes again. Should have ended:

"I don't mind the left LIVES in their own media bubble - just that they insist, at the point of a gun, that the rest of us help fund it."(

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Sorry: The HBO deal with Sesame Street was less than two years back. Per Wiki, PBS member stations will be able to air new shows -- after a nine-month "exclusivity window" in which only HBO has them. The member stations won't be charged for the content. This has now been in place for a year and a half. HBO also has exclusive streaming rights.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jay Vogt,

I envy you your station, if it's as music-friendly as you say. Ours isn't -- oh, there are a few shows, like "Thistle and Shamrock" (folk) and another one about Africa and the African diaspora. If there's something I want to listen to that I don't have on CD (and really that's pretty rare now -- I don't even know how many thousands there are), I use Pandora. Or YouTube. Or we can stream any number of European stations -- Norwegian Alltid Klassisk, Bavarische Rundfunk, you name it. And my husband bought me a Berlin Philharmonic TV subscription for my birthday :-)

"Statist" doesn't exhaust "Morning Edition," especially now we have Trump. It's relentlessly Leftist, though not so much so as some of KALW's other offerings.

Paddy O said...

I listened to NPR a lot when I lived in SoCal (KPCC). I watched a lot of PBS growing up and enjoy many shows still. A show like Huell Howser could never have made it to regular broadcast stations.

Yet, shows like Huell Howser aren't around as much now. And as a father of young kids (5 and 3), I know that Sesame Street isn't anything near the quality of other shows, and with the HBO deal it's also much harder to watch. My kids have very little interest in it, even as they watch a lot of other educational shows. It's a non-issue in our house, even though I spent at a couple years trying to find good ways of watching it and encouraging it. Mostly because of my own nostalgia. But Sesame Street is a show for privileged kids now, and the Sesame Street I grew up with is as long gone as Mr. Rogers and Electric Company and The Great Space Coaster and the rest of 70s and 80s shows.

Kids programming is significantly better nowadays than in the past. We're in a different world now than 40 years ago.

rhhardin said...

WQXR, when it was the radio station of the new york times, had the announcer's voice at the same volume as a full symphony.

Seeing Red said...

Disney owns The Muppets. On PBS.

Why should Disney be subsidized.

The guy who wrote Arthur, which is/was also on PBS. Why should he be subsidized.

Gut that, Once.

PBS is subsidized Lefty shill.

tcrosse said...

WQXR, when it was the radio station of the new york times, had the announcer's voice at the same volume as a full symphony.

Broadcasters compress the dynamic range for the sake of efficiency.

tcrosse said...

Ann uses racist dog whistle appeals on a regular basis in order to get her Althouse Hillbillies yappin' and jumpin' on her porch. She finds it entertaining to watch from her screen door.

What sort of person comes to a party, insults the hostess, shits on the rug, and picks fights with the other guests ? This is a rhetorical question; I'm really not interested in the pathology.

Jay Vogt said...

MDT -

Fist the preface: NO ONE SHOULD TAKE MUSIC ADVICE FROM ME.

Second, ,Thanks for those Euro streams there are some good ones that do listen to from time to time. I'l try yours.

Lastly, it's sort of self defeating because as I noted, about half the charm for me of Public Radio is the "Radio" part - warm, analog FM signal. That said, here's an example of what they do in my market:

IPR Studio one

Not sure if you get it, but after that in our market comes "World Cafe" with David Dye, which I enjoy.






Sebastian said...

"The other fact is how impervious government programs are to evidence incompatible with their premises." Are they less "impervious" to other evidence? Will government program be any less impervious to the meta-fact that they are impervious etc.?

Anyway, for ordinary GOP voters, this is a simple issue: if we can't even get rid of public subsidies for leftist public broadcasting--unjustified, unnecessary, and actively anti-Republican as it is--there's no point in having a GOP majority.

Jay Vogt said...

Also paradoxically, probably the most significant reason that I'm a conservative is that I listened to Firing Line on public television when I was at a politically malleable age. I bet that's true of a lot of people.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jay Vogt,

Heh. So did I! I think it was WFB's urbanity that got me. Well, that and Brandenburg 2.

Jack Wayne said...

Will almost gets there but his intellect fails at the last step. It's true as he says that unlimited government established programs with "good intentions" and never considers the possible downside. It's true that unlimited government establishes programs that run to eternity. But it's also true that an unlimited government will establish programs that are at complete odds with each other. Hence you get anti-terrorism and open borders. You get crony capitalism which is antithetical. And on and on. Such a government is doomed to failure from within from the competing pressures to do all things all at once.

The Godfather said...

An awful lot of PBS's content comes from UK television, often UK commericial television. For example, if you watched "Downton Abbey" in London, you'd have gotten the same quantity of commercials as you get on typical US broadcast TV dramas. That's why PBS has to put in fillers for the last 10-12 minutes of each hour episode.
And of course PBS ran what are in effect commercials for their corporate sponsors at the beginning of each episode. If you think your tax dollars are buying you non-commercial television, you've been suckered.

rcocean said...

Just shows what a joke George Will's "Conservationism" is. Will supports open borders and globalization. Supported liberal Democrat Hillary for POTUS and works for MSNBC.

But he's a "true conservative" because he writes harmless columns about how we need to defund NPR or stop Farm subsidies.

One reason for the Alt-right is the that "true conservatives" like Will have writing about Farm subsidies and NPR for 30 years, and Republicans are still funding both - while the real issues go unaddressed.

readering said...

So public broadcasting gets ten per cent of its funding from the government? Does not seem like worth a column. Do we want to get rid of all government contribution to the arts?

rcocean said...

There's no reason to subsidize NPR/PBS - the liberal middle class can do it themselves. But the Republicans aren't going to gain any votes by doing it. Which is why its never been done.

Danno said...

tcrosse wrote "What sort of person comes to a party, insults the hostess, shits on the rug, and picks fights with the other guests?"

The Twice Sheister is a real piece of work. Zeus is much better behaved when he visits the Meadehouse.

JAORE said...

"So public broadcasting gets ten per cent of its funding from the government? Does not seem like worth a column. Do we want to get rid of all government contribution to the arts? "

Yes.

In EVERY program a fundamental question should be, "Is this a proper role of the federal government?"

Please note, that is fundamentally different question than, "Is this a worthwhile thing to do?"

Yancey Ward said...

Readering, if it is only 10 cents out of every dollar, it can stand on its own, right? Right?

ALP said...

This describes, PERFECTLY, the overriding attitude in the helping professions. Spot on. Results be damned if your heart is in the right place, and once a "client" gets a spot in some type of social services (in my case sheltered workshops for DD individuals), even if they don't want to be there (and say so to your face), and take up space not utilizing the program - they have a historical "right" to that particular slot.

Drago said...

readering: "So public broadcasting gets ten per cent of its funding from the government? Does not seem like worth a column."

Lets get back to important stuff, like how many scoops of ice cream Trump gets.

Johnny Sokko said...

Readering - the 10% is misleading, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting launders federal tax dollars to public tv (60%) and public radio (40%).

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Inanition? I'm going to need to get something to eat before I look that up.

readering said...

Don't follow the maths or didn't follow Will's.

Kevin said...

"So public broadcasting gets ten per cent of its funding from the government? Does not seem like worth a column. Do we want to get rid of all government contribution to the arts?"

You must not be aware we are $20T in debt and still running a deficit.

Kevin said...

"Yes, all of that is accessible on the internet now, but there's something about hearing it in a warm, FM, analog format."

Take that, George Will!

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

If I want to listen to radio funded by government, I use tunein.com to listen to BBC Radio 2. All the great popular music programming, without all the pretentiousness of U.S. public radio.

(The public radio show I loathe the most is Marketplace, produced by Minnesota Public Radio -- business and economics seen through the eyes of cult socialists. One of the creepiest shows on radio.)

Big Mike said...

The local PBS station is WETA. When we were younger the wife and I used to contribute regularly, but then we discovered that the station is run by a board of directors headed by obscenely wealth Sharon Percy Rockefeller as her personal plaything. Wife and I watch "Live from Lincoln Center" when they have a good opera on, and their annual New Years Eve production. Some Ken Burns series are very good, and NOVA is educational, when not pushing global warming. Also the British mysteries like "Inspector Morse," its follow-on "Inspector Lewis," "Midsomer Murders," "The Coroner," the quirky "Agatha Raisin," not to mention the less-often played shows based on Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are great. And let's not overlook "As Time Goes By," starring a young (or at least somewhat younger) Judi Dench in an ensemble comedy that included a co-star who has also been knighted.

But my wallet remains closed because the Sharon Percy Rockefeller would also use my money to pay for quintessential limousine liberal Charlie Rose and the has-not-had-a-new-idea-since-1968 Bill Moyers. A little balance, Sharon?

The Godfather said...

@Big Mike -- I understand your position, but a Rockefeller of the present era might not be all that rich. Think of all her siblings and cousins and second cousins and third cousins, etc. The fortune's been divided up a lot over the generations. Maybe I've missed it, but I don't think any of the Rockefellers have actually CREATED any wealth for quite a while. Maybe a given Rockefeller couldn't buy more than say 10 or 20 folks like you or me. It's not like they're Al Gore.

readering said...

I know about the debt. By Will's calculation we have spent the same amount on public broadcasting since LBJ as we did for the Gerald R Ford.

readering said...

Charlie Rose an interesting example. He's the best interviewer in my book but at this point he could be broadcasting just on Bloomberg (which does next day rebroadcast). I guess he wants the prestige that he thinks comes from PBS.

William Chadwick said...

"So public broadcasting gets ten per cent of its funding from the government? Does not seem like worth a column. Do we want to get rid of all government contribution to the arts?""

I do--and I'm IN the arts. As much as a big grant from Big Brother might benefit my work, I don't see why Peter has the right to rob Paul to pay for Paul and Pauline's entertainment.