Las Vegas Sun

July 7, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Big Bird is doing just fine, thank you

There is a growing concern over Mitt Romney’s statement at last week’s debate that he would stop publicly funding the Corporation For Public Broadcasting. We taxpayers have partially funded PBS and NPR for more than 40 years. Pundits have declared that without taxpayer funding, PBS and NPR — along with Big Bird — will cease to exist.

PBS receives approximately $450 million each year from the taxpayers and receives millions in dollars through private donations and merchandising. A look at where some of the money goes is quite revealing. Executive salaries far exceed what taxpayers pay members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and top-level military commanders.

The producers of the highly successful brand-name public program “Sesame Street” made more than $211 million in merchandising from 2003-06 and the Sesame Street Workshop chief executive made almost $1 million in 2008. That puts Big Bird and his cohorts as 1 percenters. As Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., stated “Big Bird doesn’t need the taxpayers to help him compete against the private run Nickelodon cable channel’s ‘Dora the Explorer.’” It is time for the federal government to stop using taxpayers money to pick winners and losers.

It is time for the Corporation For Public Broadcasting to go private and free Big Bird from the nest.

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  1. Recent estimates of the Big Bird brand net worth are $350 Million. It's time, long overdue, for Big Bird to be cut loose of the government's purse strings and fly on its own.

    It's not an issue of how little the government provides PBS. If that were the standard, then nothing would ever be cut. Everything would just continue to receive bigger annual government subsidies. That's how we got in the predicament we're in. Currently, 40 cents on every dollar spent is borrowed by the USA, mostly from China. Is it worth it?

    President Obama and his silly campaign ads about Big Bird are an act of political desperation for an incumbent president sinking in quick sand. Glad to see PBS has asked the Obama campaign to pull the Big Bird ads.


  2. Sesame Workshop is an entirely separate and independent organization from PBS. What Workshop executives are paid has nothing to do with PBS or its Federal funding. Some Workshop programs are broadcast on PBS, and although PBS provides some funding for those programs, the money received covers only a fraction of production costs.

    It's entirely misleading to imply Federal funding to PBS is used to pay exorbitant executive salaries.

  3. Jim,

    I like and watch a small amount of PBS programming. I don't contribute to it, except through taxes taken from me. If PBS were gone tomorrow, I'd be the same as I am today. Just like some of the money we spend on weapons we could do without, as well as spending in many other areas, this is part of the re-thinking America needs to start doing about everything we spend taxpayer dollars on.

    We cannot afford to do everything we do, because Americans are unwilling to should the tax burden it would take to pay for it all. Liberals and Conservatives will never agree on what's most important, but we have got to START down this path if we are to avoid an economic collapse.

    Would PBS be a high priority for me to cut? No, it would not. Would it be in my list of cuts? Yes it would be.


  4. By identifying PBS in the debate, Romney was making an important symbolic statement--if it's not that important to borrow from China it will go. Finally, here is someone who is serious. Here is someone with a criterion to guide cutting costs. PBS is not that important that we should be borrowing money to fund it. Let's have a debate about the defense budget and the common defense--that is a fundamental purpose of government. Let's make the distinction between it and PBS. Liberate PBS from the federal government and allow private funds to support it.

  5. Michael, It's not people of middle age that would be most effected with Big Bird ceasing to exist.It would be the young children all over the country who watch Sesame Street daily.

  6. Mr. Pizzo your comment is what I was referring to yesterday when I said we had to make some adult decisions about our country. This is typical liberal speak. Namely "We have to do it for the children". First, if Sesame Street were in danger of being taken off of the air, the networks would be fighting each other in a bidding war to get that franchise. It is a cash cow. What Romney was pointing out is that NOTHING is on the table to be cut from the federal government by the Democrats and the president looked silly using this in his campaign. What Romney was pointing out was not that he wanted to "Fire Big Bird", but it was not prudent to borrow money to continue funding PBS.

    Adult decisions.

  7. Michael

    If nothing else PBS is a small island of sanity where you can find refuge from political attack ads. For that reason alone, it's well worth supporting.


  8. Jim,

    PBS, like many things government supports has some redeeming qualities. However, the 'game' has changed now. We've lost the 'option' of supporting something simply because it has redeeming qualities. A 16 trillion dollar debt and 1 trillion dollar deficits have seen to that.


  9. "If you like your present insurance carrier, you can keep it. Nothing will change." Osama Obama. "First we have to pass the bill (Obamacare) so we can see what's in it." Nancy Pelosi. Osama Obama lied. Queen Pelosi sold us a "pig in a poke." Recently, I received notification that my Medicare supplemental insurance carrier was dropping the program and I should take a long walk off of a short pier. In other words, I had better start looking for a new Medicare supplement provider. The premium (necessarily) has gone up, as well. Hey, Sam, old buddy, how's that working out for you?

  10. Mr. Fink I anticipated this happening as a result of the $716 billion transfer of funds. Supplemental insurance premiums has to increase to make up for that money considering where it is taken from in Medicare. It is simple math. You have two medical coverages. One is Medicare and one is supplemental insurance or you (as the patient). That covers 100%. Medicare says it is going to pay less on some items. Either the insurance has to come up with the remainder or you do.

  11. PBS is a vital educational resource and, given that, its funding is absolutely justified.

  12. How about the parents spend time teaching their children and not depending on the TV to do it?
    If those parents who use it value it highly they will donate to keep the show on, pretty simple economics.

  13. Few people understand the far-reaching role of PBS. Not only does PBS provide quality viewing for all age ranges, but PBS is an active partner supporting education, offering video-streaming, online education, professional development, and MORE.

    As a supporter of PBS through automatic payroll deduction, that investment of $1.35 per person per year, goes a long ways, and is a whole bunch of bang for the buck, in my humble opinion. Not only does PBS serve both local and national communities, but it opens the door to diverse cultures, not just our own, but the world around us. With the price of travel being out of the reach for so many Americans, with PBS, one can travel and experience the world from the comfort of their chair, be it at home, in a office reception lobby, or in a hospital bed.

    Let's face it: we all are better for having PBS as an active part of our lives. It is the cheapest peace-keeper known to modern mankind. Take PBS away, and watch the gradual demise of our now peaceful and diverse population, for without PBS perspectives become out of balance and return to the kind of civil unrest the USA had nearly a half century ago. I keenly remember the days where bigotry and rioting were common place in the USA. Are we prepared to travel that path once again? I hope not.

    Blessings and Peace,

  14. Very well stated, Star. Thank you!