"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some Taxes are Worth Paying

My Soap Box

This week has reminded me how much I value public broadcasting. For those who've already seen my harping via Facebook status updates, I hope you will indulge this post as well. Be assured that many folks in high places would be content if you dismissed what I am about to say. They know that eliminating public broadcast funding won't come close to balancing the federal budget. But they are milking the fashionable hatred of taxes for all it's worth. They are also fond of fabricating mandates by saying, "The American people have spoken" (even when 50% or more of us have not).

I speak as an American who does not have cable, satellite, or high-speed Internet at home. I speak as an American who saw his phone bill double just so I could afford a reasonably intelligent cell phone. But most importantly, I speak as an American for whom radio remains my primary contact with the world...at least when I'm in my apartment.

I am not helpless. I am not destitute. But I am on a tight budget. And if it's a choice between getting basic cable, or instead making semi-annual donations to public radio and using my remaining discretionary funds to buy books, then for me it is no choice at all. I go with public broadcasting.

My Plug for Excellent Journalism

Here are links to two publicly broadcast stories that I appreciated last week. But please, only read on if you "Support the Troops" and prize self-reliance.

An incredibly touching piece aired on The Story last week. It came from independent radio producer Jake Warga. Not long ago, he embedded with troops in Iraq. Mr. Warga combined interviews with music samples from the soldiers' iPods. The story is called Soldiers Soundtracks To War--Iraq. To hear the full tracks you will need to register for the site, but it is free. And it's a chance to spend quality time with our armed forces.

As two of my past posts ever so slightly hint at, I am a fan of Charity Nebbe. She used to be a host on Michigan Radio. Tragically, last year she was abducted by Iowans. Well, I may have the facts wrong about her move, but I'm an amateur blogger. If you want the best coverage, here's what you need to do. Find a top-notch media outlet whose business model ensures that it is not beholden to any one person, corporation, or ideology. I recommend your local NPR station.

Anyhow, Ms. Nebbe now hosts a morning program called Talk of Iowa. Each broadcast focuses on a single topic and includes in-depth interviews with experts. Look for the 2/10/11 show about volunteering. You don't have to be from Iowa to benefit from observing the thriving volunteer program at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

My Parting Shot

I often hear friends and family complain that they pay for hundreds of channels but frequently have trouble finding something good. Pardon me for bragging, but I only have two stations and I don't have that problem. I simply do not.