Friday, February 22, 2013

End Corporate Welfare!

This topic seems to be making a resurgence in my communications circles.  Oddly, it was a libertarian topic that I expressed "libertarian purity" on before I knew how to spell libertarian.

For one thing, many of the people who bring it up as a gripe topic have no idea what it actually is.  Public/private partnerships are National Socialism, or Fascism if you will.  It is what Mussolini used to become wildly popular with on the the Left.  It is what he used to become wildly popular with business leaders who wanted special government protection too.  It had its roots in Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party, but Mussolini and Franklin Delano Roosevelt took it to new levels only imagined by Teddy Roosevelt.

Leftists, and those educated by them, talk about "subsidies" for companies, when they really mean industry specific tax structures that exist for all businesses.  The mention defense contractors, which are really no different from any other government vendor and they are subject to more regulation than you average government supplier.  All of that can be put aside when a libertarian pipes up, "End all of it."  But it does not get put aside, because we libertarians want to end all of it, not merely use the club of government to beat up a different list of victims.

A litmus test of sorts is to mention the Public Broadcast System (PBS) or National Public Radio (NPR) in the discussion.  PBS is certainly not the largest, but is probably the most obvious corporate welfare scheme in America.

The short version of the way PBS works is the government has a big pot of money that came from taxpayers, that individuals in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and other government organizations hand out to groups of people (corporations) for products that they cannot sell anyplace else.  Or, at least they cannot sell them for the price that CPB/PBS pays.  For 2013, that pot of money amounted to $446 million dollars.  Of that, the people running the show say they plan on giving out $98 million in television and radio programming grants.

Not only is PBS an example of corporate welfare, it is also an example of public/private partnership where government is the senior partner.  In government/private partnerships, government is always the senior partner.  The little commercials you see and hear at the end of PBS/NPR shows are from sponsors of those shows.  Ever hear of the Texaco® Star Theater from the 1940s and 50s? Same thing, except with PBS/NPR it is a tax deduction and the bureaucrats have the majority say on how those donations are added to the involuntary taxpayer money taken from the rest of us and spent.

There was an issue during the last presidential campaign where the two biggest parties were quibbling over just one character on just one PBS show, Big Bird®, and if he should or should not be sent packing.  On cue, the Democrat supporters of this National Socialism ran to the rescue of Big Bird with the defense: That won't balance the budget.  Of course, you can never balance a budget if you have limited income and refuse to cut spending.  You had to get a bit over to the Right before you heard anybody bringing up relevant information, like the fact that the Sesame Street® brand makes plenty of money on its own and would likely find a new television home if PBS shut down at the close of business on any given day.

But what of the shows that would not exist anywhere if it were not for PBS and NPR?  It is really hard to believe that there are any of those at all.  Just look at this blog.  It exists, yet it has hardly any viewers.  Am I making a living off of it?  No, and even if I had ads on it I would not be making a living off of it either since advertisers pay for views.  However, if I read it aloud and got a big NPR welfare check for my trouble, I might be living a very comfortable life without any larger audience at all.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

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