Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Funding NPR

I've been fascinated at the recent debate over funding for public radio.  I completely understand that we need to find sources of expense to reduce.  It's hard.  No one likes the outcome, no matter what it is.

But, here are a few thoughts that I had in the past few weeks.

NPR receives about 2% of it's funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and federal grants (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPR#Funding).  In 2010, NPR had $180m in revenue.  So $3.6m came from the federal government.

Just in case you missed it, let me put that number again:

NPR gets $3.6 MILLION in federal funding.

Here's how that stacks up to other recent expenditures:

Tomahawk cruise missiles cost $1.06 million apiece.  According to http://bit.ly/f6bzTL, we fired 159 so far into Libya, at a cost of $168.5 million.  So, if we could have seen fit to fire just 3 fewer Tomahawks, we could have fully funded public radio for a year.

The war in Iraq costs about $16.6 million per day (source: http://bit.ly/ewSO3d).  So, if we could see fit to pause the work in Iraq for a mere 12 minutes, we could fund all of public radio for a year.

I have no doubt that there are dozens of examples like this.  But, to me, it seems utterly crazy to focus on saving $3.6 million a year when we need to find ways to save billions.

To give one last piece of perspective, millions and billions are hard to imagine.  The GOP wants to save $100 billion in spending.  If you cut NPR, you will have accomplished 0.0036% of the goal.  That's like me giving out $10,000 and complaining about 36 cents.

Honestly, I want to save money.  I want the government to balance its checkbook.  But cutting NPR funding ain't a good first step.

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