Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Daily Listener Wishes NPR Stood for "No Public Robbery"

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I belong to a group tinier than I realized: I’m one of only 34 million Americans — roughly 11% of the population — tuning in National Public Radio (NPR) each week. That fraction probably shrinks to the low single digits if we limit it to daily listeners like me. And I may be a minority of one as a daily listener who cheered the U.S. House’s vote last week to “cut 100% of federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the primary source of federal funding for local public radio and television stations.”

Public radio and TV have always puzzled me. Why would even the most rabid fan of the biggest government advocate either? The inevitability of propaganda, and its misuse (if indeed one can misuse such tripe: isn’t any use of propaganda by definition a misuse?) are so obvious even politicians should understand —oh. I get it.

So why did Our Rulers stop with broadcasts? Why not a national public newspaper as well? Then again, with USAToday, the New York Times and the Washington Post crowding that niche, they probably see no reason to bother.

Given NPR’s hopeless unconstitutionality, it’s no surprise that Supreme Leader Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation establishing it and PBS. But why? How did he justify to taxpayers this horrific waste of their money on agitprop? It’s not as though America “needed” another network. AM radio was in its heyday then, with hundreds of DJs blaring the Beatles on beaches everywhere despite the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) artificial, arbitrary limits on the number of stations. And though television had invaded American homes just two decades earlier, cable was already so viable that broadcasters urged the FCC to squelch their competitor’s development. Which the agency happily did for years: like all regulators, the FCC pretends to protect the public’s interests while actually furthering those of the industry’s big players. These, in turn, bribe — sorry, contribute to politicians’ campaigns. A cozy and very lucrative scheme for everyone but the entrepreneurial upstart, the consumer, and the poor chump of a taxpayer. 

Ergo, if Supreme Leader didn’t like the fare available, as he implied when signing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 (“…the purpose of this act [is to] … give a wider and … stronger voice to educational radio and television … [presenting] good music, … exciting plays, and … reports on the whole fascinating range of human activity”), why didn’t he work to abolish the anti-constitutional FCC? The free market longed to bless us with multitudes of stations and innovative formats, including such “educational” ones as the History Channel, the Discovery Network, etc., even as Supreme Leader pretended to yearn for them.

But tyrants never revoke the governmental program or regulation causing the problem; rather, they exploit the misery to foist more programs and regulations on us. And so we have the offensive silliness of NPR to redeem us from the offensive silliness that the FCC mandates for “commercial” radio. Meanwhile, Supreme Leader’s arrogance was as unbounded and insulting as despots’ everywhere: “our Nation wants more than just material wealth,” he prattled while signing his abominable act. “…We in America have an appetite for excellence, too.” And of course, this unspeakably crude bully, who not only bared his scarred and flabby abdomen to the country but “regularly received junior staff and reporters while sitting on the toilet,” appointed himself and his cronies arbiters of taste to elevate the hoi polloi — and on their dime, no less. “… we want … to enrich man's spirit,” this crass hypocrite added. 

Muse on that the next time a reporter with a faux British accent breathlessly but subtly lauds the latest legal victory for sodomy on All Things Considered. “Spiritually enriching,” is it not? Thanks, but I’ll continue seeking such enrichment from the Lord.

Indeed, I use the word loosely when I call myself one of NPR’s “listeners.” I despise most of the programming and tune out — to the point of actually covering my ears — its bloviating. All I’m after is classical music. And there’s precious little of that by the time the announcers finish chit-chatting, reading the news (a surprising amount of which proves we need a heavier governmental hand strangling our lives), and begging us for money. 

The begging is shameless and constant. Yet NPR’s affiliates regularly plague their audiences with “Pledge Week” (false advertising: it’s really “Pledge Fortnight”), during which the network pretty much suspends the music to hector us with its socialism. I flip on the radio only occasionally then, hoping to catch one of the rare musical interludes. I failed at that during the last stretch but did hear an announcer urging us to sacrifice our little luxuries — without mentioning Starbucks’ name, she hinted at their coffees — so we can send the savings not to starving children or Japan’s survivors but to another luxury, NPR. Always the communist’s mentality, isn’t it? “My pleasures are more pressing and worthier of satisfaction than your needs; do without yours so I can have mine.” But then sacrifice and doing without are essential to communism’s niggardly economics — in huge and appalling contrast to the market’s munificence. 

New York City’s station pleads that NPR exacts only “…a minimal investment of $1.35 per U.S. citizen per year.” But whether it’s $1.35 or $1350.00, the principle is the same: we who love classical music or (incredibly enough) A Prairie Home Companion have no more claim on other people’s wallets to finance them than they have on ours to finance Lady GaGa or The Rush Limbaugh Show.

Those who pretend otherwise are thieves, even if they prefer Bach and Beethoven to the Beach Boys.

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