To borrow a phrase from the late Edward R Murrow, “This I believe:” The United States is a great country. I may strenuously disagree with our leaders and with my fellow Americans from time to time, but I never, ever doubt that America is great.
I admit that I’m in a privileged place, as manager of a public radio and media organization, but…just look around. Our country is beautiful, with plentiful natural resources and a resilient and resourceful population. The diversity of our culture, the ingenuity of our people, the world that surrounds us…it’s stunning. Most of us are rich in so many ways.
That’s why it makes my blood boil when I hear people propose that as a nation the money we spend on public broadcasting would be better spent to “fund the food stamp program” or “pay down the national debt.”
This time it’s mostly coming from conservatives, but we used to hear it from liberals too. The line I remember the most is, “Why are we wasting money on a space program instead of solving our problems here on Earth?”
It’s an example of the “scarcity principle” in action. The roots of the scarcity principle are fear and greed. It’s the idea is that our resources are so woefully limited that if we share what we have with others, even for a common good, we will somehow lose.
It doesn’t make sense. Our country isn’t poor. It is brimming with abundance. Can each of us afford $1.38 per year in tax dollars to operate the United States’ public broadcasting system, and keep public radio stations like KAXE on the air? Yes. Heck, if we want to, we could do that AND end hunger in our country AND send a manned expedition to Mars. We can do almost anything if we really want to—if we have the will.
We are a great nation. What we can do together is so much more than any of us can do alone. This is what governing and leadership are all about.
Funding for public broadcasting should not be held up “against” hunger or our country’s economic integrity. Financially, public broadcasting is a small thing, but what it adds to the quality of our lives and our communities is huge.