You got to have a deal,
If you don't have a deal,
Then how you gonna get a budget through?
For those of you who remember South Pacific, the musical, the song, Happy Talk, you get the above reference.
The Happy Talk was all over the Sunday News Shows. Experts pointing fingers and talking about Raising Taxes and Cutting Entitlements. And Boy! Are they happy!
Oh, they may look serious and concerned, but they are tickled pink. They talk of Putting the Burden on Middle Class Americans and Catastrophic Damage to the American Economy.
But there is only the one budget they are talking about (when a question gets answered at all). Let's talk about the other budget. Let's define our terms.
Entitlements are being defined as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the one we all paid for from the first day we worked. These are the programs we love, so cutting them sounds horrific.
There are other entitlements.
There is Federal money going to support undocumented (illegal) aliens in several states – California, North Carolina and Texas for three that are pretty obvious. There are signs in Spanish at the border telling those who cross to get to North Carolina for a free pass. The free pass includes money, food, housing, transportation and education – all gratis.
There is Federal Welfare, which has a huge infrastructure to do nothing but give free money to those who contribute nothing to the national production.
There are millions and billions given to United States Territories, which receive the same benefits of states but pay no taxes.
And millions and billions given to foreign countries, some of which hate us and actively work against us, which get us nothing.
There are millions going to Federal Programs that have been over for years or are useless, such as the psychiatric study to discover why men in prison are depressed. Millions into the pockets of a small group of psychiatrists to study men in prison. Hm!
Would you like to cut tax breaks? Cut the huge tax breaks to two of the most profitable sectors in American Business – the oil companies, which are logging the highest profit levels in history, the history of any company in the world, and Big Pharma, which gets billions in tax breaks and even government money for “development” of new drugs, and then charges big-time for the results.
The argument, if it comes up at all, for these is that they are not very big categories and would not save us much if they were cut.
Horse-biscuits! In the first place, I don't believe it, because every time I read a report about these tax-breaks, it's in the millions, if not billions. In the second place, if it is true, so what? A little here and a little there could save Social Security.
Suppose your family sat down at the table to discuss the family budget. OK, I know, that's a fantasy, but suppose it happened, just for argument's sake. Would you cut out food, clothing and shelter first thing? Or would you look good and hard for things that could be cut without endangering life and limb?
Suppose you wanted to go on a diet. Would you begin by depriving your lungs of air, so they would shrink in size? Would you cut out your liver, spleen and stomach? No, you would believe there must be a better way.
The Sunday morning talk shows have been all about the budget today, but only two things were discussed, raising taxes and cutting entitlements. However, no one mentioned eliminating tax breaks to the sections of society already making more money than Midas, and no one mentioned eliminating the entitlements that are really sucking this country dry, the money going to people who are contributing nothing to our country except to the crime rate.
If we want to get the country back on it's financial track, we have to get some people on the job who are willing to look at the whole picture. Let's hear about the other budget, the one nobody seems willing to adjust.
Are there hard choices to make? Yes, there are. But the smart decisions aren't politically hurtful to the other party, so neither side wants to make them. The bi-partisan decision would be to cut the fat, the unnecessary expenditures, the old, retired programs and the favorites that help no one but a few special interest groups with loud front men.
Perhaps it would help if the Sunday Morning Talk Shows got some guests who are willing to really talk about the subject rather than stoke the argument, point fingers and lay blame. It's time for a new panel, one that gives us more than “Happy Talk.”
WRITTEN BY BEVERLY K. EAKMAN
MONDAY, 14 MARCH 2011 14:59 The New American (www.thenewamerican.com)
As House Republicans pushed to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) this month, Democrats fought back with a vengeance. Barack Obama even upped the ante a whopping $6 million, by asking $451 million for CPB as part of his $3.7 Trillion-Dollar Baby. This is the same historic 2012 budget that many lawmakers say is already trimmed to the bone (with a gross federal debt approaching $14 trillion).
In response, NPR and PBS stations nationwide stepped up their rhetoric to listening and viewing audiences, going so far as to ask them to “stop the Senate” (and even “Republicans” in particular) and “defend federal funding” for public broadcasting. Some legislators and opponents predictably cried “foul,” insisting that CPB and/or its affiliates had violated laws that ban nonprofits and government-funded entities from lobbying.
Try telling that to leaders at the National Education Association, which for years has not only produced a highly politicized, and barely education-related, Legislative Agenda, but by advocating for every leftist cause imaginable. It also owns a big, apparently tax-exempt, office building in the heart of Washington, D.C.
Weekly Standard writer Philip Terzian has pointed out in his recent article that just because “public broadcasting depends on federal funds does not mean that it cannot subsist without federal funds"; and advocated breaking its “welfare dependency.” He also notes that “If NPR and PBS were to go private, that would not only end the perpetual tension … between taxpayer funds and public accountability, it would leave them exempt from political pressure and interference” so they could air whatever they wanted.
All true. But Mr. Terzian’s best point broaches an issue rarely discussed in public, although frequently in closed company: “…while it is theoretically possible that a certain number of stations in marginal markets would succumb, that might well be the cost (if it happens)….” The underlying issue here is a topic that other countries, such as France, once believed to be crucial. Like our own nation, France, too, wound up overwhelmed by what some disdainfully describe as “the popular culture,” despite a Ministry that worked for years, in their case, to avoid what one appointee once described as “the horror of American radio and television.”
Mr. Terzian opined that the kinds of radio and television he likes — classic jazz and classical music, as well as documentaries on history, literature, and science — were nearly nonexistent on the air, except on PBS and NPR, but that “the market has demonstrated that no private broadcaster would [ever] fill the vacuum.”
He is not alone in his basic complaint, but it is far from clear that the “market” per se has demonstrated any such thing. If Mr. Terzian is correct in his view that the typical fare presented on commercial radio and television is “predominantly … or relentlessly lowbrow” whereas “the kind of elitist fare” he likes is found only on PBS and NPR, then it might be because the “market” for lowbrow entertainment has been artificially subsidized.
Beginning in the 1950s (read about "Payola"), disc jockeys were lambasted for taking kickbacks from managers and other interested parties to play certain songs and music, to feature the works of particular entertainers, and, finally, to offer only “reliable” genres like soul, country, classical, or rock to the public. Stations were often bought and sold with that in mind. By the 1990s, many people were turned off by the nonstop howling and screeching of so-called popular music, not to mention noisy, crass commercials. They didn’t want to set their alarms and wake up to such cacophony.
So, radios started being sold that had an accompanying audiotape feature so one could awake to a favorite tape, commercial-free. As digital came along, Sirius and XM satellite providers provided listeners with the capability to access their favorite genre 24/7, even in their car. No more station-fade-out problems on the road or local jabber when traveling through an unfamiliar part of the country.
The only problem was that one didn’t get any weather, traffic updates or news that way. That is probably the largest reason why local radio stations stayed in business. Even those who like “popular culture” listen to MP3 players and iPods; they are not necessarily listening to the radio the way Baby Boomers did. Talk shows, of course, are in a class of their own, and conservative hosts have to carve out their own niche instead of having it handed to them. Some do not listen to talk shows at all, of course, conservative or otherwise.
But the thorniest dilemma in Mr. Terzian’s piece is the part about it being “theoretically possible that a certain number of stations in marginal markets would succumb [without government subsidies]."
The problem is that not everyone can be a one-man Annie B. Casey Foundation or a Pew Charitable Trust. We live in a mobile society, and that means people transfer with their jobs — lots of people. Dallas, Texas, for example, abolished its PBS stations a few years ago, which meant not only classical music disappeared, but financial TV shows such as "Wall Street Week," which caters to an audience a bit more sophisticated that the one that listens to Dr. Phil. As classical music stations dwindled to the point of no return, anyone wishing to listen to complex orchestral pieces was forced to purchase a CD player, CDs, subscribe to satellite and/or cable (a sizeable outlay in some cases), and change out the radios that once graced the nightstand.
So, when we talk about a “market” for music, are we willing to say that only the elite, the rich, could possibly be attracted to Harry Connick, Jr.? Or guitarist Chet Atkins? Or what is, perhaps, the greatest stage musical of all time, Les Misérables? Now that’s a stretch….
Yet the musicians and musicals above were among the cream-of-the-crop features of PBS channels during last week’s Pledge Drive, not the music of controversial political figures, regardless of their merits at other times of the year. So, it is obvious that PBS executives know what the public likes best and what kind of programming is apt to draw pledges. If they know, so do a lot of other media moguls, philanthropists, and heads of charitable organizations — including conservative patriots.
In Tony-award-winning actress Patti LuPone’s new autobiography, she describes how she and her fellow thespians lived for years out of suitcases, traveling all over the country to perform before throngs of enthusiastic audiences, some of them out-of-the-way locales. The stages ranged from relatively small, as in college towns, to medium-sized like the Dallas Theater Center, to larger venues the size of The Strathmore in Kensington, Maryland, or The National Theater in Washington, D.C., and, of course, the biggest of them all, Broadway in New York City. The point, however, is that there is no dearth of fans for sophisticated entertainers, even among those who cannot afford large donations. In fact, many an individual’s one big splurge for the year might be for a chance to see, say, Andrea Boccelli, the blind Italian tenor from Tuscany whose incredible voice was first heard by many people on PBS. Boccelli then proceeded to pack sold-out houses the size of a football stadium around the country.
That kind of thing is going to change as young people and those living in outlying areas, long distances from major cities, hear nothing but boorish performances from the likes of Christina Aguilera and Eminem. Without a PBS around, they will never know whether they might have enjoyed operatic-crossover tenor Josh Grobin; or the dance phenomenon of Riverdance fame, Michael Flatley; or the Irish-Riverdance-spinoff female group, Celtic Woman — all seen for the first time by most people on PBS.
Of course, our “Ministry of Culture,” as it were, is called the National Endowment for the Arts. But it, too, has surrendered to political correctness, proliferating the works of extremists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, the “artist” of gross-out homosexual works, and Annie Sprinkle, the talent-challenged goofball who urinates in public.
In the present political climate, where even children’s programming is rife with leftist messages, junk science, and psychobabble, however subdued, it is probably a mistake to support CPB with taxpayer dollars. However, if the culture is ever to be turned around, conservative traditionalists need to step up to the plate and get on the boards of organizations that will present the kinds of high-culture programs that PBS does. The Left managed to get hold of the reins of the media, not by calling themselves The Marxist Entertainment Group. They simply got their act and funding partners together until they held a majority on most boards in journalistic circles, film, and television.
Monikers such as National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting carry no self-defining political terminologies. Conservatives, on the other hand, stupidly advertise themselves — and, thus their intentions — by labeling their networks, programs, and groups using religious and conservative titles right up front, so the Left doesn’t have to do it for them.
The result is hundreds of channels and stations to choose from and, more often than not, nothing uplifting to hear or watch.
Great idea! A diet wherein the first things to be sacrificed are your lungs, heart and brain. Sound good?
It's called the Politicians' Budget Cutting Diet. It has been in use for decades and hasn't worked yet. No wonder it keeps getting implemented.
Here's how it goes in real life: You demand the budget get cut, everyone agrees, so those you trust (giggle!) to represent (giggle!) you go to work (giggle!) and start cutting expenses. The first things they cut are the Fire Department, Police Department and School System. Before you know it, you are screaming for the budget cuts to stop before we are completely stupid and defenseless. Of course, by then, you have no library system left, though no one knows (giggle!) where the money went.
It goes back to Proposition 13. The voting public told the California legislature that they demanded lower spending and the Police, Fire and Education cuts were the first, last and only cuts made. In North Carolina, education is 2% of the budget, yet it is the first thing mentioned by our governor when budget cuts are brought up.
There are redundant reports, useless studies (like the US study to discover why men in prison are depressed) and stupid projects galore in the budget, yet these remain in place while Fire and Police Departments go begging. We don't need another million dollar paper on the North American Blue Bird. We need a balanced budget.
Remember the ex-governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley? It took two years to investigate his abuses, financial and otherwise. He made millions illegally while in office, yet was charged $1000 in fines and $153 in court costs. So the taxpayers paid millions to investigate him and yet he is charged $1153? Give me a break! How do you balance the budget? Make him give all the stuff back and pay the money, covering the costs of investigating him and prosecuting him. Dock his pay. Wherever he goes to work, take it out of his weekly until the state is even again. Maybe that will be a deterrent to future criminals who want to make crime pay by going into public office.
It goes for state budgets and for the Federal budget. The President keeps talking about cutting domestic spending. Domestic Spending – does that bring up a question? What about International Spending?
For years we have heard about billions (Billions!) given to countries that hate us. It is not talked about a lot on national television, but we are still giving billions to countries with whom we are at war. We support them while fighting them, destroy them, then rebuild them – and they never give us anything back for all that. The only country ever to repay a war loan is Finland.
What if we stop giving our money to other countries, maybe we won't be in financial ka-ka ourselves. Let's start with countries we are at war with, then go to countries that merely hate us, then we can take the weekly allowance from countries that just don't care for us. Eventually, we will balance the budget.
See, I didn't even mention the politicians that served one or two terms and we are still paying them for it. Gee, if we just hired them like we do everyone else, we wouldn't have to pay them forever. But I didn't mention it. That's another blog.