House of Representatives Launches New Offensive in War on Sesame Street

Yeah, it’s offensive all right.
The Republican sponsored budget bill passed the House this afternoon. Among other things, the bill shuts down all funding for National Public Radio and PBS television.
Now, OK – I know that NPR is something of the “Democrat” radio station, more or less the liberal answer to the ultra-right FOX news stations. I can understand that being a target under fire by the right while they have the power to do so. Undermine the left’s media, and you undermine the left’s ability to get their arguments out. Much like the concerted attacks on unions throughout the country, that’s sort of an expected strike. I don’t approve, mind you – but I do understand it.
But PBS? Seriously?
I can see it now – Republicans campaigning on the slogans “Death to Big Bird!” and “Elmo leads the way to wickedness!”
No, I can’t see that. Won’t see that. Because they know darned well they’d never survive the public backlash.
Folks, these shows are important. They provide education to kids whose families don’t have the thousands of dollars to spend on pre-school. There’s literally no good alternative station out there. Disney offers a variety of fairly standard shlop – entertaining, sure, but not educational.
Sesame Street is practically a national institution. It is that way because it has had value for generation after generation of viewers, kids who’ve learned their letters, learned to count, learned how to get along with others, learned about friendship, about music, about reading, about…well, about most of the more important things in life, I think. The show has stuck around through all these decades because it is one of the best TV programs ever produced, period.
The other shows on PBS have a much higher than usual focus on learning, too. Fun learning, sure – but shows like Super Readers, Dinosaur Train, and Sid the Science Kid are all about learning while kids are entertained. And they work.
I think that this attack on the education of our kids is inexcusable. I think it is shameful. And I hope the folks that voted for it get the treatment they deserve by their children, when they get home tonight.
Most of all, I hope our Senate and/or President have the sanity to kill this bill cold.


18 Replies to “House of Representatives Launches New Offensive in War on Sesame Street”

  1. Methinks I detect a bit of a straw man here. Or at least a couple bad assumptions. First, NPR existed way before Fox News, and it’s radio, not a cable news network. So maybe that comparison is a bit off. If anything Fox News competes with CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and the others, not NPR. Ok, Fox does have a radio network too, but I think it’s more competing with Clear Channel than anything else. Second, I highly doubt the rationale is as nefarious as you make it out to be. No one is trying to shut down “left-wing” media outlets. Were they to really to try that, for that reason alone, not only would 80 to 90 percent of all media outlets need to be shut down, but the action to shut them down would be struck down by the courts, and rightly so.
    What this is really about is quite simple. In a free society, government has no business running media outlets. I could sort of understand why these two entities came about, way back in the day when the total media outlets available were very limited. But it ain’t that way anymore, brother. People have more access to more information sources than ever before, for much less expense than ever before. Even were it a good idea to continue operating them from a “what power should government have or not have” point of view, PBS and NPR are, quite frankly, not needed. Especially in this day and age, with ridiculous deficits as far as the eye can see, there can be no sacred cows. I’m sorry, not even Big Bird.
    Of course, you assume that Sesame Street et al wouldn’t be picked up anywhere else. Well that’s already not true. I’ve tuned in Sid the Science Kid on my local channels (not PBS) on the weekends before. We tune in Sesame Street on Sprout all the time (to my knowledge that’s not affiliated with PBS, though I could be wrong). But even were that not the case already, if Sesame Street remains as uber-popular as I think it is, I guarantee some network or cable channel somewhere would come running to pick it up in a heartbeat. The others too, if they get any viewers. If they don’t have viewers maybe they shouldn’t be on the air in the first place anyway.
    The notion that just because government does a thing that it can’t or wouldn’t be done somewhere else were the government not involved is specious.
    But that’s just MHO.

    1. Well, since 80 to 90 percent of what you’ve said in this post is flat out wrong…
      Okay, first of all, the intent is clearly nefarious. They are trying to silence and defund what they see as the Democrats’ infrastructure and promote their own corporatist ideology. They are NOT trying to reduce the deficits that Reagan, Cheney, Dubya, and so many other Republicans liked just fine.
      The courts are very conservative in general, having been packed for decades by Republicans and Clinton’s “moderates”. Ironically, judicial activism really IS a huge problem, but as per the GOP playbook, they’re only accusing the opposition of what they are doing themselves.
      They say its about budgets, but they’re lying as usual. Walker for example turned down every concession the unions offered. It was never about the money. Nothing short of busting the unions would suffice. If the Republicans were sincere about wanting to balance the budget, they wouldn’t be pushing tax cuts for the rich and they’d be willing to consider cuts to Pentagon waste.
      Did you know that we could totally cut everything but defense, Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security and we would STILL run a deficit? All of that. Every penny. Cutting Social Security does no good, because it’s in a separate system (and running a surplus btw). Cut Medicare/Medicaid in a recession? Deal with an army of angry voters. We WILL have to raise taxes, it’s just a question whether we raise them on the people who can actually afford it.
      I’m sorry, but if you honestly think that shutting down PBS is going to make a dent in the deficit, then I’ve got a nice timeshare in Bahrain to sell you.
      Second, this idea of the “liberal media” is pure bull. It is a myth, little more than a rabid hallucination. The mainstream media is NOT liberal. It is corporate, and that usually means “conservative”. They are not out to promote a liberal agenda, they are out to make money and run CYA for corporations. To that end, they do what is cheap, easy, and shiny. They specialize in sensationalism and gossip. They turn political campaigns into horse races and disasters into spectacle. They reduce every debate to two so-called experts parroting talking points with no penalty for lying.
      For proof, you need look no further than the MSM’s treatment of the Wisconsin protests. One Saturday afternoon, with only a week of planning, a grassroots effort whipped up the biggest rally since the Vietnam War, with large turnouts in every state capitol and several other cities. The Madison crowd alone was bigger than any the Tea Party has ever had.
      So how did the “liberal media” cover this historic event?
      They didn’t. CNN mentioned it in passing, but spent much, much more time talking about the 2 year anniversary of the Tea Party. MSNBC ran reruns of Lockup and other documentaries. Foreign outlets have even commented on this media blackout: http://gocl.me/g2rcDw
      And there are the war drums that the MSM loves to pound every time the neocon chickenhawks get itchy trigger fingers. You’d think we’d have learned our lesson on that.
      So on and so forth. The “liberal media” is a giant lie.
      We might have 500 channels now, but they are owned and controlled by fewer and fewer companies. So it’s really just an illusion of choice, especially when it comes to the news, which is constrained (if not censored) by its loss of independence. Now, with the Comcast NBC merger, we will see service providers and content providers controlled by the same companies. That will be very, very bad.
      Maybe Sesame Street could be picked up elsewhere, but it would never be the same. It would just be warped into yet another soulless non-educational toy commercial. How about some product placement while we’re at it? Let’s get Elmo into some Nikes and put a Pepsi machine by Oscar’s garbage can. Think that can’t happen? You might be surprised. And that’s just one show, surviving only because it is a beloved cultural icon. The rest of PBS? Kiss it goodbye.
      Besides, many people still can’t afford cable and just watch broadcast.
      Public media does have its place. It is worthwhile. The airwaves still technically belong to us. We paid for the R&D that led to the internet, and for a lot of the infrastructure. We should retain some stake in the media.

      1. Let’s try to keep things nice. Sensing heat growing here, so let’s try to stay cool.
        Incidentally, NPR reported extensively on the Wisconsin protests. Only US media that did, though.

  2. Methinks I detect a bit of a straw man here. Or at least a couple bad assumptions. First, NPR existed way before Fox News, and it’s radio, not a cable news network. So maybe that comparison is a bit off. If anything Fox News competes with CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and the others, not NPR. Ok, Fox does have a radio network too, but I think it’s more competing with Clear Channel than anything else. Second, I highly doubt the rationale is as nefarious as you make it out to be. No one is trying to shut down “left-wing” media outlets. Were they to really to try that, for that reason alone, not only would 80 to 90 percent of all media outlets need to be shut down, but the action to shut them down would be struck down by the courts, and rightly so.
    What this is really about is quite simple. In a free society, government has no business running media outlets. I could sort of understand why these two entities came about, way back in the day when the total media outlets available were very limited. But it ain’t that way anymore, brother. People have more access to more information sources than ever before, for much less expense than ever before. Even were it a good idea to continue operating them from a “what power should government have or not have” point of view, PBS and NPR are, quite frankly, not needed. Especially in this day and age, with ridiculous deficits as far as the eye can see, there can be no sacred cows. I’m sorry, not even Big Bird.

    Of course, you assume that Sesame Street et al wouldn’t be picked up anywhere else. Well that’s already not true. I’ve tuned in Sid the Science Kid on my local channels (not PBS) on the weekends before. We tune in Sesame Street on Sprout all the time (to my knowledge that’s not affiliated with PBS, though I could be wrong). But even were that not the case already, if Sesame Street remains as uber-popular as I think it is, I guarantee some network or cable channel somewhere would come running to pick it up in a heartbeat. The others too, if they get any viewers. If they don’t have viewers maybe they shouldn’t be on the air in the first place anyway.

    The notion that just because government does a thing that it can’t or wouldn’t be done somewhere else were the government not involved is specious.

    But that’s just MHO.

    1. Well, since 80 to 90 percent of what you’ve said in this post is flat out wrong…
      Okay, first of all, the intent is clearly nefarious. They are trying to silence and defund what they see as the Democrats’ infrastructure and promote their own corporatist ideology. They are NOT trying to reduce the deficits that Reagan, Cheney, Dubya, and so many other Republicans liked just fine.

      The courts are very conservative in general, having been packed for decades by Republicans and Clinton’s “moderates”. Ironically, judicial activism really IS a huge problem, but as per the GOP playbook, they’re only accusing the opposition of what they are doing themselves.

      They say its about budgets, but they’re lying as usual. Walker for example turned down every concession the unions offered. It was never about the money. Nothing short of busting the unions would suffice. If the Republicans were sincere about wanting to balance the budget, they wouldn’t be pushing tax cuts for the rich and they’d be willing to consider cuts to Pentagon waste.

      Did you know that we could totally cut everything but defense, Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security and we would STILL run a deficit? All of that. Every penny. Cutting Social Security does no good, because it’s in a separate system (and running a surplus btw). Cut Medicare/Medicaid in a recession? Deal with an army of angry voters. We WILL have to raise taxes, it’s just a question whether we raise them on the people who can actually afford it.

      I’m sorry, but if you honestly think that shutting down PBS is going to make a dent in the deficit, then I’ve got a nice timeshare in Bahrain to sell you.

      Second, this idea of the “liberal media” is pure bull. It is a myth, little more than a rabid hallucination. The mainstream media is NOT liberal. It is corporate, and that usually means “conservative”. They are not out to promote a liberal agenda, they are out to make money and run CYA for corporations. To that end, they do what is cheap, easy, and shiny. They specialize in sensationalism and gossip. They turn political campaigns into horse races and disasters into spectacle. They reduce every debate to two so-called experts parroting talking points with no penalty for lying.

      For proof, you need look no further than the MSM’s treatment of the Wisconsin protests. One Saturday afternoon, with only a week of planning, a grassroots effort whipped up the biggest rally since the Vietnam War, with large turnouts in every state capitol and several other cities. The Madison crowd alone was bigger than any the Tea Party has ever had.

      So how did the “liberal media” cover this historic event?

      They didn’t. CNN mentioned it in passing, but spent much, much more time talking about the 2 year anniversary of the Tea Party. MSNBC ran reruns of Lockup and other documentaries. Foreign outlets have even commented on this media blackout: http://gocl.me/g2rcDw

      And there are the war drums that the MSM loves to pound every time the neocon chickenhawks get itchy trigger fingers. You’d think we’d have learned our lesson on that.

      So on and so forth. The “liberal media” is a giant lie.

      We might have 500 channels now, but they are owned and controlled by fewer and fewer companies. So it’s really just an illusion of choice, especially when it comes to the news, which is constrained (if not censored) by its loss of independence. Now, with the Comcast NBC merger, we will see service providers and content providers controlled by the same companies. That will be very, very bad.

      Maybe Sesame Street could be picked up elsewhere, but it would never be the same. It would just be warped into yet another soulless non-educational toy commercial. How about some product placement while we’re at it? Let’s get Elmo into some Nikes and put a Pepsi machine by Oscar’s garbage can. Think that can’t happen? You might be surprised. And that’s just one show, surviving only because it is a beloved cultural icon. The rest of PBS? Kiss it goodbye.

      Besides, many people still can’t afford cable and just watch broadcast.

      Public media does have its place. It is worthwhile. The airwaves still technically belong to us. We paid for the R&D that led to the internet, and for a lot of the infrastructure. We should retain some stake in the media.

      1. Let’s try to keep things nice. Sensing heat growing here, so let’s try to stay cool.
        Incidentally, NPR reported extensively on the Wisconsin protests. Only US media that did, though.

    1. I debated whether to post this at all. 😉 Politics can be messy to talk about on the internet, and I tend to be a “middle of the roader” on a lot of things, so I don’t get heated about political stuff much.
      I’ll buy the comments about NPR, although I will personally miss it. It’s really the only news radio available around here, even in the largest city in my home state, so if it goes away entirely it’ll be a major blow until something comes in to fill that void.
      What really worries me is the PBS bit, though. I can’t see that as being about parties or politics – I think it’s just short sighted.
      PBS covers educational programming for a variety of ages, allowing folks who might not otherwise hear about new things in science, medicine, or culture to do so. But I really feel like its greatest contribution is at the younger ages. For preschool age kids whose parents can’t afford the thousands of dollars a year for preschool, there’s literally no substitute available.
      Will some of those shows, really popular ones like Sesame Street, be picked up by other stations? They might be. I hope they will be. But PBS is unique among all stations for constantly working to develop and produce new educational programming for children. Nobody else is doing that, to the best of my knowledge. At least no one playing on our local extended Comcast channels.
      There’s other kids’ shows out there. Disney has some, Qubo has others. But those tend to be focused on entertainment, on “keeping kids busy”, rather than on education as they entertain. I don’t see those stations suddenly dropping their regular shows and developing some with educational value instead.
      To me, it seems like PBS has served a very valuable public service, by making early education available to families whose children otherwise might go without. With PBS, it’s not a case of government controlling a news outlet, like you mentioned with NPR, Michael. It’s the government making educational programming available via the television. And it seems to me like almost anything else we can do to provide that opportunity to learn would cost us much more than PBS has.
      So I worry about this becoming a case of the “have nots” having even less, and of people who’ve depended for generations on PBS for education suddenly being left with entertainment for their children, instead of enlightenment.

      1. Those are legitimate concerns. But I wonder how many people REALLY depend on PBS, and only PBS, for education. Is there any actual data on that, or is it just hand-wringing worry? Not to make light, but we really need to be making decisions based on facts and first principals, not fears of what could be. We do a LOT of really stupid and wasteful things in this country in the name of education, and “for the children”. Many Politicians, being inherently cowardly, don’t oppose them for fear of being labelled anti-education, someone who wants to destroy our children. So there’s rarely any real analysis done whether these things we do are actually effective, and do any real good. And when someone does do one, and finds glaring inanities and tries to do away with them, the demogogues jump on the airwaves and decry that person as trying to destroy eduation as we know it. Or whatever. When that may not (in most cases very likely not) be the case at all. All that’s a long way of saying yeah, I get it, but show me the data.
        I stand by my statement that government should not own and operate media outlets. That way lies danger. If there’s a real need that COULDN’T be met from the private sector here, maybe there’s another way to do it. Subsidies or somesuch. That would certainly be cheaper than outright owning and operating it.

        1. PBS costs about $300 million a year to operate.
          Can you think of another way to make available even the most basic of public education to just about every two to four year old in the country for that little? I can’t.
          I don’t have any issues with the government sponsoring an educational institution. If we wanted government fingers out of education, we’d have to eliminate public schools and libraries too, wouldn’t we?
          The reason we pay for those services is that the government ensures (or at least tries to ensure) that they are fairly evenly distributed. Now, the government fails in that job. Schools aren’t even. But they try – which is far more than the private sector would do, if we eliminated public education. Removing PBS is similar, in that PBS at least makes the attempt to provide basic educational services for those who otherwise would not have them at the ECE age. They’re not perfect – but the alternative is that those who have the money will be able to pay for education for their young kids; and those without money will be left having even less educational opportunity than before.

        2. These days being brazenly anti-education is not a detriment to a political career. Just ask my Governor, Sam Brownback.
          Sure, state media is horrible in dictatorships, but this is at least in theory a democracy, where the government is accountable to We The People. NPR only seems liberal compared to corporate media like CNN and propaganda outfits like Fox News, and PBS is not exactly the Pollitbureau.
          I contend that Big Brother doesn’t necessarily have to be the government. Corporations can oppress and control people just as well, especially when working in conjunction with corrupt and/or dictatorial governments. One important function of any honest government is to protect its people from the abuses of private interests that have amassed too much power.
          Think about all of the terrible abuses that we all fear governments might do. Now, are those same things somehow okay if a corporation does them? No, of course not.
          You also mention cost, and people always think that the private sector can do things more cheaply. But Social Security has overhead costs of only 1% while private accounts have overhead costs as high as 15%. Contractors like Halliburton triple bill the Pentagon for things the Army could probably do itself. We pay more for health care than other countries and get less because we’re spending way too much on paying executives to cheat us. No, it’s not always the case that government is cheaper, but it is much more often than people realize.

          1. I’m not familiar with Brownback. Out of curiosity, in what way is he brazenly anti-education? What, did he endorse creationism in the classroom or something? That’s a pet peeve of mine: keep the religion out of science class!
            Of course it’s not ok for corporations to abuse folks just because they’re not government. Never did I mean imply that. There are BIG differences between abuse by business and abuse by government though. You’ve got a recourse if you’re mistreated by a business, for one.
            As far as cost goes, I wasn’t trying to say that everything is cheaper in the private sector. But it would almost certainly be cheaper for the government to offer a subsidy for things it would like to have happen than for the government to buy the infrastructure and pay for the people to do it. That’s a lot of overhead to carry, especially if businesses already have those things set up.
            I can’t speak to the cost details of those things you listed. But I would mention a couple things:
            1) the reasons for high health care costs in this country are legion. One thing is certain, though. The root cause of those high costs isn’t the comfortable-sounding, but trite notion you put out there. Executive pay, as a percentage of all revenue and expenses in the medical industry, is a meaningless drop in the bucket. It’s a nice red herring to throw at people in order to avoid really analyzing what’s going on though.
            2) Halliburton is one of approximately….two or three…companies in the world that is actually able to perform certain oil construction related tasks. For that kind of specialized expertise, you have to expect to pay a premium. And you certainly don’t want the Army, a COMBAT ORGANIZATION to mission creep itself into oblivion trying to do all this other stuff besides it’s job: to kill people and break things. Or at least I don’t.
            That said, I’ve heard a lot of folks talk bad about Halliburton (mostly I suspect because they don’t like a certain former-VP who once upon a time worked for them). It’s the favorite boogey man for those who didn’t like the last administration. Fair enough. I’ll grant that there were a number actually documented instances of payment for contracts to them that seemed excessive, without knowing any of the actual facts behind the contracts. But I would submit to you the problem with those excessive payments WASN’T Halliburton. The problem was government, and cronyism. Halliburton couldn’t have done those things without government leading the way, after all.
            All this is immaterial to the topic of this post though. You guys think it’s a travesty that PBS might go away. Fair enough. I personally don’t think it’s as bad a loss as you think it is, and that if there’s really a demand for what it does someone else will step up to meet it. I guess we can agree to disagree. I rather suspect that Kevin was right in his original post, and nothing will come of it anyway.
            Anyway, good talking with you. I rather enjoy a reasonable debate.

    1. I debated whether to post this at all. 😉 Politics can be messy to talk about on the internet, and I tend to be a “middle of the roader” on a lot of things, so I don’t get heated about political stuff much.
      I’ll buy the comments about NPR, although I will personally miss it. It’s really the only news radio available around here, even in the largest city in my home state, so if it goes away entirely it’ll be a major blow until something comes in to fill that void.

      What really worries me is the PBS bit, though. I can’t see that as being about parties or politics – I think it’s just short sighted.

      PBS covers educational programming for a variety of ages, allowing folks who might not otherwise hear about new things in science, medicine, or culture to do so. But I really feel like its greatest contribution is at the younger ages. For preschool age kids whose parents can’t afford the thousands of dollars a year for preschool, there’s literally no substitute available.

      Will some of those shows, really popular ones like Sesame Street, be picked up by other stations? They might be. I hope they will be. But PBS is unique among all stations for constantly working to develop and produce new educational programming for children. Nobody else is doing that, to the best of my knowledge. At least no one playing on our local extended Comcast channels.

      There’s other kids’ shows out there. Disney has some, Qubo has others. But those tend to be focused on entertainment, on “keeping kids busy”, rather than on education as they entertain. I don’t see those stations suddenly dropping their regular shows and developing some with educational value instead.

      To me, it seems like PBS has served a very valuable public service, by making early education available to families whose children otherwise might go without. With PBS, it’s not a case of government controlling a news outlet, like you mentioned with NPR, Michael. It’s the government making educational programming available via the television. And it seems to me like almost anything else we can do to provide that opportunity to learn would cost us much more than PBS has.

      So I worry about this becoming a case of the “have nots” having even less, and of people who’ve depended for generations on PBS for education suddenly being left with entertainment for their children, instead of enlightenment.

      1. Those are legitimate concerns. But I wonder how many people REALLY depend on PBS, and only PBS, for education. Is there any actual data on that, or is it just hand-wringing worry? Not to make light, but we really need to be making decisions based on facts and first principals, not fears of what could be. We do a LOT of really stupid and wasteful things in this country in the name of education, and “for the children”. Many Politicians, being inherently cowardly, don’t oppose them for fear of being labelled anti-education, someone who wants to destroy our children. So there’s rarely any real analysis done whether these things we do are actually effective, and do any real good. And when someone does do one, and finds glaring inanities and tries to do away with them, the demogogues jump on the airwaves and decry that person as trying to destroy eduation as we know it. Or whatever. When that may not (in most cases very likely not) be the case at all. All that’s a long way of saying yeah, I get it, but show me the data.
        I stand by my statement that government should not own and operate media outlets. That way lies danger. If there’s a real need that COULDN’T be met from the private sector here, maybe there’s another way to do it. Subsidies or somesuch. That would certainly be cheaper than outright owning and operating it.

        1. PBS costs about $300 million a year to operate.
          Can you think of another way to make available even the most basic of public education to just about every two to four year old in the country for that little? I can’t.

          I don’t have any issues with the government sponsoring an educational institution. If we wanted government fingers out of education, we’d have to eliminate public schools and libraries too, wouldn’t we?

          The reason we pay for those services is that the government ensures (or at least tries to ensure) that they are fairly evenly distributed. Now, the government fails in that job. Schools aren’t even. But they try – which is far more than the private sector would do, if we eliminated public education. Removing PBS is similar, in that PBS at least makes the attempt to provide basic educational services for those who otherwise would not have them at the ECE age. They’re not perfect – but the alternative is that those who have the money will be able to pay for education for their young kids; and those without money will be left having even less educational opportunity than before.

        2. These days being brazenly anti-education is not a detriment to a political career. Just ask my Governor, Sam Brownback.
          Sure, state media is horrible in dictatorships, but this is at least in theory a democracy, where the government is accountable to We The People. NPR only seems liberal compared to corporate media like CNN and propaganda outfits like Fox News, and PBS is not exactly the Pollitbureau.

          I contend that Big Brother doesn’t necessarily have to be the government. Corporations can oppress and control people just as well, especially when working in conjunction with corrupt and/or dictatorial governments. One important function of any honest government is to protect its people from the abuses of private interests that have amassed too much power.

          Think about all of the terrible abuses that we all fear governments might do. Now, are those same things somehow okay if a corporation does them? No, of course not.

          You also mention cost, and people always think that the private sector can do things more cheaply. But Social Security has overhead costs of only 1% while private accounts have overhead costs as high as 15%. Contractors like Halliburton triple bill the Pentagon for things the Army could probably do itself. We pay more for health care than other countries and get less because we’re spending way too much on paying executives to cheat us. No, it’s not always the case that government is cheaper, but it is much more often than people realize.

          1. I’m not familiar with Brownback. Out of curiosity, in what way is he brazenly anti-education? What, did he endorse creationism in the classroom or something? That’s a pet peeve of mine: keep the religion out of science class!
            Of course it’s not ok for corporations to abuse folks just because they’re not government. Never did I mean imply that. There are BIG differences between abuse by business and abuse by government though. You’ve got a recourse if you’re mistreated by a business, for one.

            As far as cost goes, I wasn’t trying to say that everything is cheaper in the private sector. But it would almost certainly be cheaper for the government to offer a subsidy for things it would like to have happen than for the government to buy the infrastructure and pay for the people to do it. That’s a lot of overhead to carry, especially if businesses already have those things set up.

            I can’t speak to the cost details of those things you listed. But I would mention a couple things:

            1) the reasons for high health care costs in this country are legion. One thing is certain, though. The root cause of those high costs isn’t the comfortable-sounding, but trite notion you put out there. Executive pay, as a percentage of all revenue and expenses in the medical industry, is a meaningless drop in the bucket. It’s a nice red herring to throw at people in order to avoid really analyzing what’s going on though.

            2) Halliburton is one of approximately….two or three…companies in the world that is actually able to perform certain oil construction related tasks. For that kind of specialized expertise, you have to expect to pay a premium. And you certainly don’t want the Army, a COMBAT ORGANIZATION to mission creep itself into oblivion trying to do all this other stuff besides it’s job: to kill people and break things. Or at least I don’t.

            That said, I’ve heard a lot of folks talk bad about Halliburton (mostly I suspect because they don’t like a certain former-VP who once upon a time worked for them). It’s the favorite boogey man for those who didn’t like the last administration. Fair enough. I’ll grant that there were a number actually documented instances of payment for contracts to them that seemed excessive, without knowing any of the actual facts behind the contracts. But I would submit to you the problem with those excessive payments WASN’T Halliburton. The problem was government, and cronyism. Halliburton couldn’t have done those things without government leading the way, after all.

            All this is immaterial to the topic of this post though. You guys think it’s a travesty that PBS might go away. Fair enough. I personally don’t think it’s as bad a loss as you think it is, and that if there’s really a demand for what it does someone else will step up to meet it. I guess we can agree to disagree. I rather suspect that Kevin was right in his original post, and nothing will come of it anyway.

            Anyway, good talking with you. I rather enjoy a reasonable debate.

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