Mitt Romney says we can’t afford to support PBS, National Endowment for the Arts or Amtrack. This is a disgraceful lie. These three p
rograms add up to barely more than $2 Billion/year. Let’s put that number in context. How much are we now spending on the militarization of America? $1.2 Trillion per year (carefully count the zeros and make sure you add it ALL up, like Tom Dispatch has done). That comes out to $600 Million per working HOUR (assuming that there are 2,000 working hours per year) to militarize the United States (don’t call it “Department of Defense,” because this is largely a lie).
In other words, with FOUR HOURS of our warmongering budget, we could afford all of the things Romney says we need to cut. What he proposes is thus immoral and dishonest. It’s time to slash our warmongering budgets, bring the troops home and rebuild America. And let’s quadruple our support for PBS, so that we have the self-critical news and in-depth investigative journalism we desperately need–we’re getting very little useful information from the corporate media. Let’s vigorously fund public media in order to address America’s corporate-financed information corruption, and let’s begin to have vigorous and meaningful conversation about re-setting our national priorities.
Craig Aarons of Free Press also addresses Mitt Romney’s claim that it would be good for America to dismantle CPB:
“It’s disappointing that Mitt Romney continues to use his public platform to disparage public funding for public media. The public consistently ranks support for public media as an excellent use of our tax dollars, second only to national defense. Cutting funding for public media wouldn’t allow these vital outlets to stand on their own. It would cut them off at the knees. Hundreds of communities would lose public media stations that provide local news, children’s programming and community voices found nowhere else. If Governor Romney truly wants to represent the vast majority of Americans, he should propose long-term ways to build a world-class public media system, not issue vapid campaign threats.”
Robert McChesney and John Nichols also make a strong case for dramatically increasing funding for public broadcasting:
The first hundred years of American history, the founders did not assume the market would give us journalism. There was no such assumption at all. They understood it was the first duty of a democratic state to see that a vibrant, independent, uncensored Fourth Estate exist . . .
[T]here is a hidden history of the First Amendment, a history that was really stolen from us as we entered into a commercial age in the last century, century and a half. At the founding of the republic, there was a deep understanding on the part of the founders that if you promise people freedom of the press, that was a wonderful notion, a great concept, but it was an empty promise, meaningless, if there wasn’t a press. You know, you say, “Well, we’re not going to censor you.” Well, if there’s nothing to censor, it doesn’t matter. And so, the founders understood, and well into the nineteenth century there was an understanding, that you never censored, you set up a landscape where independent journalism could be practiced and could come in all sorts of forms.. .
And what we understand, what we come to realize, is that we can create a system in this country today that allows the new abolitionist movements, the new dissenting movements, to have a voice. It won’t be a dominant voice. It won’t be as much as we’d like. But they can be in play. But if we don’t act now, we, the people, as citizens, we’re going to end up in a situation where the vast majority of our news and information is packaged by power, by elites, but the same people who didn’t want the abolitionists to have a voice 200 years ago.