OPINION: The Cost of slashing Public Funding

How much for Public broadcasting ?
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By Mark Scheinbaum

MIAMI (March 18, 2017)—President Trump’s budget proposal for this year eliminates government funding of public broadcasting, and the endowments for arts and the humanities. These are programs that probably translate to $1.50 in expenditures per person per year.

In Florida we have PBS (Public Broadcasting Stations), in Panama they have SER-TV  (from the Spanish word for “to know”), my old little ranch in rural New Mexico received blizzard warnings and fire alerts from New Mexico Public Radio, and so it goes in most civilized lands.

Across the Gulf Stream in The Bahamas, the archipelago of 700 “family islands” is tied together by government funded radio messages not just for civil defense but for information for isolated fisherman and their families.

This column has often noted how investing  money in museums, art shows, student art leagues, youth symphonies, essay contests, and cultural grants result in a smarter, safer, and  healthier society. The cost of not exposing students to these programs is paid for in police budgets and juvenile detention centers.

The cost of not encouraging adult performing and visual artists to feed their passions or bringing affordable live entertainment and broadcasts to the masses is urban flight by middle class families looking for somewhere else where these venues are available.

It is good that the Ford or MacArthur Foundations, Bill and Melinda Gates, Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary will pick up the slack in some areas, but this is not a substitute for civic responsibility.

I heard someone who is smart. No. Someone who is REALLY smart, as in double-summa-cum-laude smart, say that the fall of the American Empire is now.

Generations of selfish and aggressive international policies have made the new USA administration the laughing stock of the G-20.

The problem with this analysis is that approximately half of the U.S. population does not care and has no interest in caring. People sometimes get what they want.

People want lower taxes, fewer immigrants, fewer social safety nets, less tolerance of dissent or even proximity to people who speak, dress, or pray differently from themselves, and this is exactly what they are getting.

I do not have the psychological qualifications to determine if this is good or bad. Maybe introverts who say, “I want mine, and too bad about those guys” are the practical and righteous citizens of the nation.

Yet, I wonder how the local youth symphony which never has turned away a child who wants to learn how to play an instrument, went from Miami to the inaugural ceremonies in Washington to perform better serves America when they close their doors.

Mark Scheinbaum, is managing director of Shearson Financial Services in Boca Raton, FL and his opinions are his own. He will teach a course in international relations at Florida International University in the fall.


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