Budget busting or freedom busting? | AspenTimes.com

Budget busting or freedom busting?

Dear Editor:

It has been brought to my attention that the House of Representatives has a few bills before it that would eliminate Federal support for Public Broadcasting. I am urging you to write your congressman and ask him to vote against these proposals for several reasons.

First and foremost in this age of biased reporting there are very few organizations that one can rely on for unbiased information – the Public Broadcasting networks are those sources. Secondly, PBS brings more than just unbiased views of the world to American citizens; it brings educational issues to the public and also provides entertainment rich in cultural values.

In this age of fiscal conservatism I realize that budgetary items must be scrutinized and ways of balancing our budget must be sought. Items need to be selected for trimming and outright termination; however, I see this attack on the PBS as a thinly veiled attempt to stifle opposing opinions of corporately controlled mainstream media and an attempt at eliminating the ongoing education of the American people.

For every politician knows in his heart that an educated electorate is increasingly difficult to control. So for some of our elected, the possibility of keeping our populace ignorant remains a priority.

With the elimination of organizations who can watch-guard our institutions, I see an attempt at the institution of fascism within our government that must be vigorously fought. Without dissenting opinions there will be no truth, without discussion and debate there will be no democracy. If dissenting opinion is eliminated we will see more erosion of our Constitutional rights of free speech.

Simply put, as per our Constitution our government has a duty to support free speech not destroy it.

This is not the first attack on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Back in June 2005, “Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), the (then House Subcommittee of Appropriation’s) chairman, said the cuts had nothing to do with dissatisfaction over public radio or TV programs. “It’s pretty simple,” he said in an interview. “The thinking was, there’s not enough money for everything. There are ‘must-do,’ ‘need-to-do’ and ‘nice-to-do’ programs that we have to pay for. [Public broadcasting] is somewhere between a ‘need-to-do’ and a ‘nice-to-do.’ ”

Apparently secretly torturing “suspected” terrorists must have fallen between the “must-do and the nice-to-do rating” established by the esteemed Representative Regula, for I did not see anyone targeting funding for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Will your congressman re-route a small amount of their supporter’s future contributions? The total campaign contribution for 2010 was $1,091,697,698 (according to opensecrets.org). Will your Congressional members share such largess so that their constituents’ kids could still learn to count with the Count or Spell with Bert and Ernie or even better yet, learn compassion, understanding and fairness from Big Bird?

According to Wikipedia, “For the 2010 fiscal year, the United States’ base budget of the Department of Defense rose to $533.8 billion – adding spending on ‘overseas contingency operations’ brings the sum to $663.8 billion” per year, yet the House of Representatives is seeking to eliminate the $430 million that is allocated to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Seems to me that the Armed Forces could make due with four less bunker busting bombs (at $145,600 a bomb), two less planes (the F-22 at $361 million – the military currently has 187 on order), one less aircraft carrier (a Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier costs $4.3 billion dollars); perhaps the United States could support one less dictator (unknown costs), foster one less war (many trillions and counting), maybe give less money to corrupt military contractors or bail out one less irresponsible corporation before we cut off funding for Public Broadcasting.

Perhaps Congress could find a way to continue to foster free speech instead of taking away a voice of the people. I don’t know; call me a freedom-loving idealist but I can think of thousands of items that could stand trimming from the budget before the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Chris Vecchiarello


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