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10-23-10 Hodgepodge

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Palin Makes Wrong Stand

In the wake of Juan Williams getting fired from National Public Radio for stating that seeing passengers in Moslem garb on his own plane raises his hackles, Sarah Palin and the GOP have suddenly become interested in defunding NPR.

Not especially to defend the GOP, but it has at least attempted to do this in the past and, arguably, has to start cutting government somewhere. But Palin unwittingly demonstrated why NPR should be defunded -- period -- with her unprincipled remarks:

NPR says its mission is "to create a more informed public," but by stifling debate on these issues, NPR is doing exactly the opposite. President Obama should make clear his commitment to free and honest discussion of the jihadist threat in our public debates -- and Congress should make clear that unless NPR provides that public service, not one more dime.

In other words, it's okay with Palin for NPR to keep on receiving money looted from American citizens, so long as it abides by her idea of fostering a free debate. (Ironically, by this standard, she has no argument against Obama stating that he's satisfied with the "debate" and that NPR should continue receiving funds.)

So Palin really isn't against the government funding a broadcast network, and arguably has no problems with the government telling a (semi-)private broadcaster how to run its business, including whom to hire and fire.

Wouldn't privatization have made this problem impossible in the first place? And, if so, why not advocate defunding NPR regardless of its policies, once and for all, on principle? First, if NPR were not government-funded, it could hire and fire as it pleased (like any other private broadcaster), with such free-market responses to its subsequent reputation as audience share and listener boycotts ensuring that, if it wanted to be known as an impartial journalistic enterprise, it would act like one. Second, with the government not funding NPR, its decisions would not become de facto government positions on ideological matters -- which the government shouldn't be in the business of promoting, anyway. Of course, it's not the government's job to makes sure we have objective journalism, anyway, but if it did its job -- protecting individual rights -- the market would take care of that on its own.

So much for Sarah Palin as a capitalist or a defender of freedom of speech.

Weekend Reading

"[John J.] Colby uses a tactic called 'psychologizing' to smear Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate John] Robitaille." -- Ellen Kenner in "Psychologizing and the Art of Smearing," Providence Journal

From the Vault

About this time in 2006, I asked the following question: "What makes the Dalai Lama a scientific collaborator?"

Defending the Drawl

I dislike hearing myself on tape, but the silver lining is that my southern drawl reminded me of an interesting thing I looked up some time ago: What does an American accent sound like to someone from England? I didn't save the discussion I found, but it's consistent with what I found as the first answer here: nasal and "Texan."

I guess that means I sound extra "American," at least to the English, then...

Mutilate Your Child's Mind

Qwertz takes a look at something I wondered about some time ago and concludes the following:

This ["science" textbook from Bob Jones "University" Press] appears to me to be deliberately disorganized so as to prevent students from making con­nections between the topics discussed. But I suppose it could also be a result of a profound mis­understanding of the empirical scientific method. It's scattershot.

That such a book was ever used by any one to attempt to teach science to children is simply appalling.


-- CAV


Cross-posted from Metablog

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My "Ethics in Engineering" textbook says similarly spirited things about laws of physics:

"How do you know that laws are true? In fact you do not know if the laws are true! Laws are unprovable because they relate the values of real, physical properties." - A User's Guide to Engineering pg 64

What a worthless textbook. This is a college class. The teacher uses class time to preach at us about green technology no matter how unprofitable or unpractical it is. I leave almost every class enraged and angry. Next week we will be discussing Nuclear power, which so far at this college, has been categorically misrepresented and smeared at every opportunity. Joy. What college is this? Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC.

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Hello. I'd just like to debunk the NPR "government funding" belief that seems to be going around lately.

NPR Website FAQ

NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government. Less than two percent of the budget is derived from competitive grants from federally funded organizations...

Interview with NPR CEO

NPR gets no allocation from CPB [Corporation for Public Broadcasting]. Zero. We are a private 501©3. We’ve had journalists call up and ask what department of the government we report to. That’s laughable. Have you listened to our shows? We do apply for competitive grants from the likes of the Ford Foundation and the Knight Foundation. As a result, some money from CPB does come to us when we win grants. Depending on the year, it represents just one to three percent of our total budget.

So, go ahead and pull their Federal funding and watch as... nothing happens.

Edited by Electrobagel
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From what I understand, the2% only refers to NPR, not the member stations. The member stations receive a larger chunk from the government (about 15%). I'm an NPR listener, and I heard on one of their programs that the funding to member-stations varies a lot: some rural stations get 40% from the government, while other get very little.

Of course there are also all sorts of subsidies and cross-subsidies.

The core of NPR would easily survive if government funding were to be removed, but if NPR and its member stations were to be treated like private entities, they would have a hard time surviving.

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Ah, I missed that bit in my research. Thanks for pointing it out. I don't think it should be funded by the Fed, so if they do pull funding I hope those stations that struggle find a way to stay afloat. I much enjoy their classical music selections. Perhaps they'd turn to more direct advertising as a source of revenue.

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NPR used to get direct federal funding - now they've disguised it by getting their federal funding indirectly through the member stations. There would be no reason for such federal funding or the CPB except for maintaining the existence of NPR.

Would NPR survive without the federal funding provided to it both directly and indirectly? Probably not - at least not in its current form. Would member stations survive without NPR and the guaranteed federal funding for broadcasting NPR? Many certainly would - they would just broadcast something else, and get their funding from *gasp* private sources via advertising and events.

Many of the radio stations that would not survive are probably ones that would likely never have been created in the first place if not for the incentive of government subsidy - in that sense, the government has inflated a "public radio bubble".

Edited by brian0918
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I much enjoy their classical music selections.
About 10 years ago, there was a classical music station I used to listen to in our area. They shut down because they were not financially viable. I wonder if they would have been able to hang on if they did not have to fight against subsidized "competition" from NPR.
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About 10 years ago, there was a classical music station I used to listen to in our area. They shut down because they were not financially viable. I wonder if they would have been able to hang on if they did not have to fight against subsidized "competition" from NPR.

Ahh yes, never overlook the forgotten man... or DJ in this case. Great example sNerd.

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