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Fan mail: Billy Eger sets me straight

My most-persistent correspondent doesn't like my views on NPR. I wrote: "And the money spent on public broadcasting creates a public good far more valuable than those dollars would indicate: It creates a better-informed citizenry, the kind needed for a well-functioning democracy."

Billy's response:


billy from wickliffe

I enjoy Billy's pedantry. But for the sake of argument, here's James Madison's definition of a "republic," writing in Federalist 39

If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.

The government derives its powers "from the great body of people." Now. Billy's right that we're not strictly speaking a democracy. (Strict democracy is ... kind of socialistic.) But the term hasn't generally been used strictly, really. Lots of people—most people, I'd say, and certainly some notable conservatives—use and have used the term "democracy" to describe our republican form of government, so I don't think I was doing anything particularly ill-informed. Since our republican form of government derives its powers from the people, my point still stands. 



emawkc said…
I don't find NPR's programming particularly egregiously slanted. One of their podcasts is a regular listen for me (Planet Money, FTW!).

However, whether the programing as a whole is left-leaning or not seems to be beside the point. I think the test for government spending should be much more strict than just "hey, the make a pretty good radio show."

At a time where we're just spending waaaay more than we have, than we can afford, we should be very tight with any dollars.

I realize that the NPR funding is merely a Robert Siegel teardrop in an ocean of deficit spending. I wish that those who hold the federal purse strings would be so strict with all of their spending (including their own salaries and benefits).
Monkey RobbL said…
I agree with emawkc, both on the bias issue and the funding issue.

On principle, I believe federal funding of ANYTHING broadly cultural simply fails the constitutional test. Hell, most federal spending probably fails that test. I will not miss the federal funding for NPR when it's gone.

But as a practical/political matter, defunding NPR, PBS and other similar programs is a loser. The amount of time you have to spend defending (and politicking for) the cut does not have a sufficient payoff.

Military spending is by far the largest portion of the discretionary budget. Until both sides get serious about cutting THAT, everything else is just teams scoring points with their base.
Monkey RobbL said…
Also: Keep the Billy Eger correspondence coming! As performance art, it's brilliant!

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