I never thought for a minute that I would be taking time during this election cycle to talk about Big Bird, but here we are... As I said on the radio show last night, the reason I know that Mitt Romney scored a knock out in the debate this week is that the only real substantive complaint I have heard from the left deals with Romney's comment about de-funding PBS.
Before we get in to why I think this is a ridiculous campaign issue, let me say that I believe strongly that quality educational television for children is a good and noble thing. While I think it is ridiculous, I don't think the issue is silly. Silly implies a level of entertainment that I am not feeling with this issue. Sure, it was amusing at first to think that out of all the issues discussed in the debate it would be Big Bird that soared to the top when there are so many other bigger problems that deserve serious consideration and honest debate. Bit if we are going to take the time at this critical juncture in out nation's history, let's treat the issue with the some respect.
Sesame Street is a great brand and has terrific marketing behind the show so it would survive and thrive in any television market. If Big Bird were on the ballot, I have no doubt that the big guy would win in a blowout.
PBS in general, and Sesame Street in particular, does not need to be funded by taxpayer dollars. Lefties say that PBS represents a mere 0.0012% of the federal budget. I haven't done the math on that, but I'll accept that number to be true and just say that if we can't cut even 0.0012% of the federal budget without a federal case made out of it, we have even bigger problems ahead.
It has been noted elsewhere that taxpayer dollars represent only 12% of PBS's revenue. I think that is a small enough number that PBS ought to wean itself off government largesse and stop seeking continued corporate welfare. Let's not forget that PBS is a corporation. They are making millions of dollars off of Sesame Street merchandising alone. Big Bird is the 1%.
The reason why PBS is a favorite target of conservatives has nothing to do with Sesame Street. And the left's bringing it up is political theater designed to cast the right as evildoers who don't care about children. We don't care for PBS because the bulk of the programming on PBS is politically biased and/or redundant. That Bill Moyers gets airtime at all on a channel paid for by taxpayers ought to be a crime. The Jim Lehrer News Hour is not needed in this day and age of the 24 news cycle.
I look at PBS as one of the symbols of what Big Government run amok. On the one hand, PBS has managed to put themselves in fairly good financial shape. They really don't need money from the government to fund their operations, but they keep sticking their hand out because they know government will keep borrowing money from China to keep the greenbacks rolling off the presses. I would be much more impressed with PBS if the corporation said that they no longer needed government money. Imagine what a victory that would be for Big Government! Finally a program that started with public funding that managed to find a way to stand on its own. PBS should be a model for government programs, instead it is just another in a long line of budget items that takes our hard earned cash and puts it in to the wallets of millionaires.
Big Bird, it ain't personal big guy, but you need to stop stealing our money. You got a great job that pays well and you will be taken care of for many more generations to come because your corporate parents saw fit to ensure your financial success.