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Goodbye, Big Bird?

On Thursday, a House Appropriations panel approved a spending bill that would cut the budget for public television and radio nearly in half:

Panel Would Cut Public Broadcasting Aid
Source: The New York Times

For those who'd like to write the responsible parties, here's a link to a list of the members of the Committee on Appropriations. Clicking on each member's name brings up a snail mail address and phone number. I plan to add the full list here behind an LJ-cut tag for an easy cut and paste into your word processor of choice so you can do a mail merge, if you'd like.

Edit: here's the link to the text file.

Dear Representative So-and-So:

I have never written to you before, but feel compelled to do so after hearing that the House Appropriations Committee (of which you are a member), approved a measure on Thursday, June 9th, 2005 that would nearly halve the budget allocation for public radio and television.

I am appalled by this action. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has provided excellent educational programming for years, and continues to maintain high standards of quality. Sesame Street in particular remains an outstanding resource, one that helped many members of my generation, myself included, to learn the foundations of grammar and mathematics. How anyone could vote against friendly cultural icons like Big Bird and Mr. Rogers, who teach children about important values like being good citizens and community members, is beyond me.

To be brief, PBS is one of the very few items remaining on a short list of things that I am happy to pay for with my federal tax dollars. The salary of anyone who voted in favor of cutting their funding is not on that list.

Sincerely yours,

The Republicans have a majority of 8 on the committee, so it's possible to make an educated guess as to whose fault this is.

I'll be writing to complain, and I hope that you will as well. Please also write your House representative as well so they'll know how you feel when the initiative comes up for the full House vote. As a side note, I find it quite ironic that etiquette requires that letters be addressed to "The Honorable So-and-So" when 99% of them are anything but honorable.

PBS is one of the few things currently covered by my taxes that I'm actually glad to pay for. The salaries of the members of the Appropriations committee? Not so much.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 11th, 2005 01:13 am (UTC)
That's quite depressing :/

It seems we're seeing so much crap coming down the pipe from the upper administration. Yeah - NOW you feel the ramifications of putting God's blessed politician in office.

Oops sorry - was that cynicism?
My bad
Jun. 13th, 2005 04:41 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, sweetiepie -- you are definitely not alone. In fact, you've got plenty of good company in the "I told you so" camp! :) *hugs*
Jun. 11th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC)
I draw the line at picking on Sesame Street. Thanks for the links. I can see I've got some typing to do.
Jun. 13th, 2005 04:51 pm (UTC)
I have no doubt that whatever you write, it will be convincing and articulate. :)
Jun. 11th, 2005 10:32 am (UTC)
*sigh* The Republicans (or maybe more fairly, the more extreme social conservatives) have had their sights set on PBS and NPR for years, perhaps from its very inception. There were complaints decades ago from those quarters that Sesame Street was a "communist" program (well, it does teach children to share....)

Newt also tried to get rid of PBS, but not much came of it. I found it notable that at that time PBS marched out the insipid Barney program. It seemed, to me at least, to be particularly popular among Gingrich's constituency in Cobb county and environs. Then the war against PBS quieted down. Maybe it was a coincidence. Dunno. Maybe PBS'll pull the same trick again?

Sesame Street itself gets most its revenue from character licensing. All those Tickle Me Elmos help keep SS on the air, and AFAIK, they get rather little from the CPB for ongoing costs. CTW might not be able to come up with new programs though, if the bill passes. So, I don't think SS is in particular danger itself. But, there are lots of good, worthy programs on PBS, and those are likely to disappear if this goes through.

Jun. 11th, 2005 02:47 pm (UTC)
Well, I'll confess to a little selective defense, here: Although I genuinely do love the Muppets, and everything I said is honest, I mention Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers and the whole "teaching values to our children" schtick because I think those are things that a moderate Republican could hear and agree with. I don't want my letter just dismissed out of hand as a liberal's letter if I start going on about All Things Considered and Now; I tried to make it sound a little more a soccer Mom's "what will my babies watch?" appeal because I thought someone reading it might be more willing to listen to that. Call it editing tactics, but I'm trying to consider my audience, as it were.

It's easier to spin cuddly puppets who teach children how to read as postercritters for PBS than thought-provoking analysis from Bill Moyers, much as I respect Bill (I even worked on a project for him when I was at SCETV). I'll 'fess up to trying to appeal to the supposed "family values" side of the readers.

So, yes, I know that even if it goes through, Sesame Street probably isn't going anywhere. However, it's one of the most easily identifiable shows on PBS, one that immediately communicates that something that people care about is being fiddled with by the government. I don't want the other quality, non-flagship programming of PBS to disappear, so I use the recognizability and popularity factor of SS to help the cause, as it were.
Jun. 12th, 2005 02:07 am (UTC)
Hell with 'em. They went soft when they let the adults see Mr. Snuffalufagus. Now they're worried about Cookie Monster's eating disorders and they've made Oscar misunderstood and sensitive.

They should have ended it when Mr. Hooper checked out.
Jun. 13th, 2005 04:54 pm (UTC)
Well, I would've understood them ending it when Jim Henson died, for that matter, but I just don't like the thought of the Muppets not being around. However, I tend to agree with you on the Cookie Monster bit in principle, though I haven't witnessed the actual execution, so I'll reserve judgement on the outside chance that they're able to somehow make it palatable. They'd have to work hard at it, though: I mean, it's Cookie Monster, hello, not Salad Monster or Apple-a-Day Monster! :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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