- Politics and Social Issues
Why Big Bird Should Choose Our Next President
It may strike most folks as a silly bit of diversion from the real issues at hand, but take away the puppet facade and the broad appeal and general assessment that Sesame Street is a worthwhile effort, and then look behind all that to the basic philosophic posture that brings some to count it a reasonable course to thoughtfully examine the propriety of PBS collecting public funds and the philosophic posture that enlists others to assert that Mitt Romney is an uncaring rich guy who doesn't mind breaking the hearts and stealing the futures of children to keep more cash in the pockets of the wealthy, and you have the very core of the division in this country and the monumental issue of this election. And, superintending all of this is the real villain - but, we'll get to that shortly.
Very directly and straight to the point; Big Bird (the man in the suit) makes over $300,000 a year, The Children Television Workshop (producers of Sesame Street) make over 15 million dollars a year just from licensing and merchandising sales alone (Elmo dolls, Bert & Ernie lunchboxes, etc), and the government funding for PBS comes to about only 15% of their budget. So, mathematically, two points; first, if public funding of Sesame Street were to be ended the show would (at least could) easily go on, and second, the government would not save that much of it's spending budget. The issue here simply isn't really if kids will be able to watch Big Bird or not, not at all - the issue is what is the purpose and legitimate role of government and what direction do we want this country to take.
As I said, in the overall budget, the subsidy for PBS that comes from the government is not going to ruin public television if it's ended and it's not going to save the country from a soaring deficit and engulfing debt if it's ended. But, borrowing well over 400 million dollars that we don't have to fund a company that makes over 15 million dollars a year just from selling toys of it's popular characters, is easily and observably a very reasonable matter to investigate and consider. And that is where the real villain in all this is revealed . . . the mainstream news media doesn't present this as a reasonable matter to investigate and consider - they present Obama as caring about your children and they present Romney as not caring about your children. Rather than being any manner of truth seekers and holding all politicians accountable for their policies and actions, they have become nothing less than agenda advancers - objective reporting of actual facts has been abandoned for the slanted portrayal of a cause. Like a creepy religious cult, they are so sure they are right, so sure that their cause is good and just, that their duty has become to, not seek-out the truth and tell us objective information, but to tell the story that will lead us all to the 'right' conclusions, to the 'right' view, to the 'right' side.
The news media is supposed to report, they are supposed to get to the facts and publish them, they are supposed to tell us what's new . . . that's why it's called 'news', when some new thing happens, when there's some new information discovered, they are supposed to publish it, without an agenda. The way the news media conducts itself today is as if the master conspirators who carried-out the Watergate cover-up would have been discovered to be Woodward & Bernstein. They, rather than practicing any manner of critical thinking let alone any serious investigating, simply advance the lame old cartoon that Conservatives are mean rich guys who giggle when big oil spills muck all over Big Bird, and that liberals are those people who really care about others and are smart enough to know the earth is round. The scenario is too self-congratulatory for the news media to resist.
One consequence of the miserable state of journalism today is that we have a whole class of people who are eager to mock those who they regard as religious fools, ridiculing them for believing whatever they're told to believe and charge them with being too stupid to think for themselves, etc, meanwhile they happily see all Democrats as intelligent people who care about others and see all Republicans as idiots who don't care about others, simply because that's the storyline the media promotes (or, tells them to believe). This is why in survey after survey when asked specifically about policy and not about candidates or parties, so many offer answers that line-up with the conservative positions they say they oppose and against the liberal positions they say they side with. Look at this Big Bird case; there are protesters marching about to 'save' Sesame Street from the 'evil' Mitt Romney, and Big Bird, Sesame Street, and The Children's Television Workshop are the very '1%ers' their picket signs blast.
The question we have to ask, and the question Mitt Romney (or anyone slandered by sheer bigotry rather than facts) deserves to have asked, is - why is Mitt Romney so vilified? Sadly, it's come to this; he's successful, he's a White guy, egads he's religious, and worst of all he's not liberal. I say "not liberal" rather than saying he is conservative because I believe that's the way too many liberals think today . . . it's not they that positively think they are right, it's not that after thorough examination they conclude with certainty that liberalism works and will help people, it's not that diligent research has demonstrated to them that liberalism is the ethically right and good course, etc - it's that they just' know', everybody 'knows', that conservatives are old fashioned anti-intellectuals who only care about big corporations.
Liberals, many of them, don't think they are so right, they just 'know' that conservatives are wrong. The big lie has been fully gobbled-up and far too many people genuinely think that liberals are kind and smart and that conservatives are mean and dumb . . . and, when it serves the liberal cause, conservatives are of course racist too. The trouble is we're talking about real people, Mitt Romney is a real guy . . . maybe he shouldn't be president, maybe his policies won't work, maybe he wouldn't do a good job - but is he really mean and dumb, does he really not care about others, is he really racist, is he really a bad guy rather than a good guy?
This Big Bird issue simply isn't about who is good and kind and smart, etc, and who is bad and mean and dumb, etc - it, like so many issues, is about what will actually work and help the most people . . . help them with genuine help. If a policy is advanced that recognizes that we are borrowing money we don't have to provide a small amount of free cash to a company that makes millions a year, and also understands that this money is not really 'free' at all but is money taken from worker's paychecks that could remain in the economy (buying gas, paying for restaurant meals, etc), that is not a mean or dumb idea to consider, it is a very reasonable idea to consider - unless you start with the assumption that the guy advancing it must be a mean, dumb guy because he's a Republican.
Today liberal political philosophy has the government doing all manner of things it was never established to do and is not designed to do. Again, it's not a matter of who's good and who's bad - it's what ill actually help people. Remember, the real question is, will it work. Without investigating what the answer may be, I would like to see the results of this survey; Sesame Street started in 1969, I'm wondering if you took 100 average high school graduates from 1969 and 100 average high school graduates from today and asked them 20 questions (what's the capitol of Spain, what planets are on either side of Earth, who was Charlemagne, etc?) how each group might fare. I think Sesame Street is fun and creative and must certainly help young kids learn their numbers and alphabet, etc - but the whole point of Sesame Street is to prepare kids for school, to encourage them to enjoy learning, to produce better students in the end - is it working?
However, the real question comes down to this; my wife works two jobs, we live paycheck to paycheck with no resources for retirement or insurance, etc - when we say 'public funds' and 'federal grant' and even 'tax money' are we recognizing that we are talking about our money, your money from your paycheck and mine? Before you even get your own pay for the work you do, Big Bird has already taken his cut - is it really mean, is it really dumb, is it really unreasonable to advance a policy that reconsiders the legitimacy of the federal government (established to maintain an army, secure the borders, regulate interstate trade, etc) confiscating portions of citizen's paychecks to provide 'free' money to a multimillion dollar corporation?
To me, that has become the problem. Not that some think the government should fund children's television programs and some think that the government should not fund children's television programs - the real problem today is that some are so sure they 'know' the other guys are wrong that they are sure, without critical thought or evidence, that they must be right. Therefore, since they know they are nice people and smart, if you see things differently, you must be mean people and dumb. It's no longer about authentic liberal and authentic conservative political theory - it's all become divided into who is good and who is bad, who cares and who doesn't care, who is smart and who is stupid . . . the liberals have become the elite, the morally superior and the intellectually advanced. Listen to the liberals today, it's no longer 'here's what we believe will work, and help people' it's simply 'we are the ones who care, they don't'. And the news media, our public source of information, is promoting their storyline instead of investigating it.