The controversy has been out of the news of late – Mitt Romney hasn’t been talking about firing Big Bird and National Public Radio hasn’t fired anyone for their views – but I wanted to write about federal funding for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB).
First, though, some givens that I want to set up front for this piece. According to this October 2012 article from ProPublica, the CPB was set to $445 million over two years. For simplicity sake, I will cut that number in half and assert that the CPB was scheduled to receive $222.5 million for a fiscal year.
Second, funding cuts both ways. When the government hands out money – as in the case with CPB or any other organization or agency, it can be said to be funding that entity. Likewise, if the government grants a tax break to an organization or agency, it is in essence funding that entity also because the government is letting that group keep money that it would have paid out. If the feds grant me a tax credit or exemption of $100 on for IRS 1040 form, it is the same as if they had given me $100. So, the federal government can subsidize something by giving it money or by not taking away money that other groups have to pay.
While doing a bit of research for this post, I came across this piece by David McElroy. One part of his argument about government funding for CPB is “…the problem would be that government is funding a mechanism that influences our culture.”
Okay, so the feds should be out the business of funding those groups that influence culture. Check.
Another line of reasoning follows the thread that federal funding should not go towards groups and organizations that espouse views different from the author’s. Mostly this thread comes from conservative or right-wing writers who see National Public Radio and other CPB outlets as having a leftist or liberal bias (here and here and here).
Okay, so the feds should be out the business of funding organizations with an obvious bias and holds views that I do not believe in. Check.
With the above “checks” in mind, let me propose a fair swap of funding subsidies.
I will gladly trade CPB’s annual $222.5 million and I will do by utmost to pick up the tab for the programs I enjoy (Marketplace, Studio 360, Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, etc.)…
…if you agree that the federal government should stop subsidizing religion to the tune of $71 billion (yes, with a “B”) per year as determined by this study. The federal government funds religious organizations by giving them tax credits in the form of deductions for charitable donations and for exemptions from paying property taxes.
Religion influences culture. Check.
Religion – especially the non-Jewish ones – have a bias and hold views different from my own. Check.
Religion fits both criteria above as held by those authors who want the federal government to stop funding CPB.
I realize this means that my synagogue will have to come up with some extra funds, but just like NPR’s Morning Edition, I will be there to help them out during their annual pledge drives.
If you don’t think this plan would work, you should have more faith.