Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Budget Cutting is Hard...

Heard two bits of information yesterday that hit hard.  The one is that the House is proposing to cut Fulbright funding over a billion dollars this week.  I'm in the process of finding out whether I'll get a Fulbright to go on sabbatical next year.  Suffice it to say, such a cut could hurt deeply!

The other is the proposal to cut funding entirely for public radio.  I do watch the local morning news and some of the Today Show on TV.  I occasionally will put on CNN or MSNBC for headline news.  But NPR is my primary source of news every hour on the hour, driving in to work and driving home.  I like listening to Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, and All Things Considered because the hosts are polite and try not to take sides.  I generally don't know their own positions.

These were illustrations to me yesterday of how hard it's going to be to get the deficit under control.  If it were possible, I'd prefer for them to do a cross the board percentage cut--to get the budget under control in 5 years we must cut everything x%.  I suppose it doesn't work that way but perhaps it could be a place to start.

What can't happen is ideological cutting.  Almost everything must be cut, from defense to things like the above that preserve America's soul.  Ironically, defunding the arts and value added programs like Fulbright remind me of the old Communist sense that only what is useful in a very narrow and material sense matters.  It's funny how if you go far enough to one extreme you can become like the other extreme.  Completely defunding things like PBS or NPR is ideological cutting and is counterproductive.

This budget cutting is going to hurt everyone if it is done right.  What's the magic percentage?  Start there with everything, let each area suggest specifics, and let's go from there.  We'll all hurt together.

22 comments:

Rick said...

Apart from perhaps CNN, do you ever listen or read anything that at least more middle-of-the-road or right leaning? Your news input seems heavily lean left, with little counter-balance or variety.

Just askin'

Ken Schenck said...

Certainly NPR has some left programs, but I have never found that to come through with these specific ones, except perhaps for science Friday (and some of that is scientists having a hard time dealing with empowered ignorance). They read critique from both sides every week.

Every once and a while the leanings of the Today show will come out, and I feel uncomfortable with that because I want objectivity in a reporter.

Where the middle is changes. I would argue that 10 years ago, these were all pretty middle. 9-11 has swung the middle strongly to the right, in my opinion.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I think that is an excellent suggestion! Thanks for sharing it and your personal choice about news gathering...

I wish also the government would be open to a flat tax. That way it does not discourage savings, investments or productivity, because I do think people should be rewarded for their work and choices.

I like Diane Ream's program and often listen to it...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

And I'm sorry to hear about how the Fulbright cuts might affect next year for you :(.

Ken Schenck said...

Diane Ream is a good example of a person who you can tell probably leans left. But she is disciplined in her treatment and fair. Her professional ethic of attempted objectivity demands that she do her best to maintain a neutral stance.

Ken Schenck said...

I imagine it will more affect those coming to the US rather than those applying to other countries. I am still waiting to hear from Germany.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I was wondering if you'd applied to Germany, again. Will the family be going with you?

Ken Schenck said...

My family would also go. Our potential arrangement is in Munich with Knut Backhaus as our potential host. It would be my second and last Fulbright, if approved. We've made it through the US portion of the approval process, but the German commission must prune down the candidate list even more, understanding that times are tough everywhere.

FrGregACCA said...

While "the truth has a liberal bias," it is sadly true, and extremely disappointing to me, that NPR is drifting to the right. For example, I heard nary a word on "Morning Edition" today about what is happening in Wisconsin with regard to massive public resistance to the governor's call to strip state and local employees of their collective bargaining rights. (Yet, there was a very short item about some guy in the middle of Montana causing a ruckus on an Amtrak train and forcing its evacuation: go figger.)

Now, about the budget mess in general: For the last thirty years, American productivity has continued to climb; however, virtually all of the return on that productivity has gone to a very small number of people at the extreme top of the socioeconomic foodchain, such that, as of right now, the net worth of the Forbes 400 is about the same as the bottom FIFTY percent of the entire U.S. population, at around 1.5 Trillion.

Obviously, before we start cutting, we need to raise marginal tax rates to pre-Reagan levels and, perhaps, even tax extreme wealth. Of course, no one dares to propose this.

FrGregACCA said...

Oh, and Rick: right-leaning? Like who, or what? David Brooks? He's on PBS.

If you're thinking of Fox: well, Fox had pulled what William F. Buckley used to call "the lunatic fringe" into the mainstream. No thank you! Grew up with that!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I wish the best for all of you!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

AND you will love Munich even more than where you were last (if I remember correctly)! It is simply gorgeous!! And so close to many "tourist traps", even so, some of them are "must sees"...

JRS said...

We have a constitution and it says we can only spend to pay debts, provide for the common defense and the general welfare.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

JRS<
What is "the general welfare"??? THAT is the important question, I think!

Scott F said...
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Scott F said...

As to NPR, I am always reminded of the survey that asked people in 2003 if Sadaam was responsible for 9/11 and then what their primary news source was. The Fox viewers were the worst informed (most misinformed?) while NPR and PBS followers had a significantly better grasp of the facts than the viewers of Fox, CNN or any of the traditional networks.

As much as I respect the news presented by public broadcasting, it is in essence merely (relatively) non-commercial broadcasting that the government supports in order to ensure under-served markets have access. There is nothing about news gathering that is endemic to its mission.

I imagine that NPR would survive without federal support. Would I miss Diane Rehm? A little but who many talk progrms do we really need, even on NPR?

JohnM said...

Budget cuts probably do need to "hurt" everyone for a variety of reasons. That means me too. I listen to NPR, but it's demise really wouldn't be part of any hurt I would feel. The thing is defunding items like public broadcasting and Fulbright scholarships doen't say to me "we're serious about reducing the the deficit". It's more like ordering a 3/4 lb cheesburger with fries and then saying "hold the pickles cause I'm on a diet".

::athada:: said...

Scott F:

You're on to it, and I can't believe I hadn't thought of it before. Quiz the listeners (divided up by their primary news source) on fact-based, no-opinion information.

There are more biases to work out I supposed: if one segment was less educated to begin with (let's make up a news source: "Faux News"), could the new source be blamed for the segment's starting point? Somehow this would need to be corrected for.

Rick said...

FrGregACCA-

Regarding NPR and David Brooks- It is rare that such institutions never have a regular conservative voice. Instead, it is just a matter of balance regarding those voices. I certainly recommend NPR as a source of news.

In regards to Fox, I certainly would not recommend that they be one's single source for news. Absolutely not. However, I would recommend putting them (or other right-leaning sources) in the mix of a variety of sources one listens to.

Again, it is not necessarily about any one source. It is more about listening to a healthy spectrum.

Larkin said...
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FrGregACCA said...

Rick: That is a reasonable response and goal. My problem is, I'm not aware of any "right-leaning" sources that I can really trust. Fox News is completely out in that regard: plus, I am extremely put off by the whole tone with which they present things.

The "Wall Street Joural"? Maybe, except that every time I read one of its editorials, it seems that always there is some glaring fact of which I am aware that the piece seems to completely ignore.

It seems to me that, in general, at least with regard to economic issues, the center has moved pretty far right. Perhaps the opposite is true concerning social issues, but when it comes to them, the media entities on the right usually so overwhelm me concerning their take on economics that I find it hard take them seriously on anything else.

Further, I think that perhaps we have moved so far left on social matters precisely because we have moved to the right with regard to the economy. Or, perhaps better, the fear of moving left on social issues has motivated any number of Americans to vote against their own economic self-interests (and we have not even included the question of race as it relates to these voting patterns).

Rick said...

FrGregACCA:

"My problem is, I'm not aware of any "right-leaning" sources that I can really trust"

I certainly think we should approach all news sources with a critical eye, but that includes both those leaning left and those leaning right. Both have their faults/errors.

That is just one more reason to take in a variety of news, from accross the spectrum.