peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
The other day, a friend forwarded me this link. It opens:

Ira Glass, the man who captivates countless National Public Radio (NPR) listeners with his quirky accounts of daily life around the country, recently asserted that NPR should be supported by free market capitalism and advertising.

Glass came under fire for this presentation, essentially a pitch to advertisers. He later wrote:

Numbers like that mean that companies will come on our shows and pay lots of money for what the rest of the world calls “advertising” and what we call “underwriting.”

I’m talking about the 10- to 15-second announcements during public radio shows that say “Support for this program comes from . . . .” Public radio and TV have always had them.

Yes, they have noted "underwriters," but for the record these were most often charitable foundations, not pitches for car companies and breweries as Glass pitches every week on This American Life. Sorry, Ira, those are ads, not underwriting spots. Suck it up.

I got pretty bummed about the whole thing, including the slickster hip webpage that touted the event. A lot of energy was going into wooing advertisers to public media.

And then I realized I shouldn't be bummed. This has been building for quite some time. Why? Public media in the United States lacks definition as to what public media is.

What follows is my attempt to clarify. Enjoy? )

Yes, it's a biggun. Still, I could use some feedback. And it ain't done yet.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Well, I can't say I didn't see this coming. Andrea Seabrook, former NPR Washington correspondent, went to a different project some time ago, Decode DC, a podcast purported "to help Americans understand how crucial political issues affect everyday life."

We do this by using every narrative tool we can – from straightforward analysis to podcasts to interactive graphics to video. We want to be a reliable, honest and, when appropriate, highly entertaining source of insight and explanation of Washington, D.C.'s people, culture, policies and politics, but mostly we want to be useful.

She's had a few insightful episodes, true. The last I've heard, though, tipped things back into Silly Town. If you can, check out Episode 32: Inside the Investigation, where Andrea interviews Scripps reporter Mark Greenblatt on his discovery that . . . wait for it . . . government agencies are paying "too much" for travel expenses.

For those who care, click. )

Every breakup deserves a letter. )

Sigh. I miss good reporting.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I recently tripped on yet another rhetorical caltrop in an online discussion thread, a seemingly off-handed observation that sought to quiet the Sturm und Drang of yet another whiner (this whiner being myself); it was the notion that "advertising has . . . been the fuel for art and entertainment for decades, if not centuries." And while yes, this is technically true, there are reasons—some worth considering, others so powerful that not considering them puts people at peril—obviating the seeming simplicity of this observation.

In a nutshell, I am here proposing that there are good reasons to create ad-free multi-media space, and that those reasons have to do with the negative and deforming effect of advertising itself. This has been a hobby horse of mine for some time, and I thought it might be interesting to introduce this concept with those who might not have considered these issues before. So, riders, saddle up! )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
As well everyone knows who reads my keyboard droppings, I have been trying to get commercial ad content out of my life for some time now. In this phase of life, this means writing letters to content producers asking them to please, please, please let me pay for ad-free shows. No dice.

Some time ago, I wrote the National Public Radio Ombudsman and got a few questions answered (though no answers I liked). Since at least they were answering my letters, I decided to point-blank ask if there was some legal or contractual reason no shows under NPR membership could provide content thusly.

Strangely, that was the only question I have not gotten answered. I forgot about this, though, only to look through the letters and realize I had been blown off . . . by an ombudsman! Yes, this might have been an oversight, so I asked directly again.

That was a week ago. I have never received an answer in less than three days.

Yes, I know, that's not much of a gap. But still, this is the second time a direct question on that topic has been ignored. So, curious and feeling a bit mischievous to boot, how would you like to try a little experiment?

To start, click here. )
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Just stumbled upon a New York Times article concerning sustainable development that posits a problem with a popular model, that of the Three Pillars of Sustainable Development. Those pillars are the Environment, Society, and the Economy. Here's a National Council for Science and the Environment page discussing the issue, and an image from the same page depicting the pillars in question:

Hmmmm. . . . )
peristaltor: (Default)
Just caught a piece of rage-inducing news: a Washington State House bill proposing selling naming rights to elements of public transportation to raise money. As he almost always does, I think Goldy says it best:

Personally, I'm opposed to selling the naming rights on state bridges and highways because I think it cheapens the commons and reinforces our irresponsible something-for-nothing political narrative. . . .

Exactly. The presence of commons is a necessity to a functional civic life. We all need places we can gather where we are more than targeted consumers, where we participate in public life apart from the needs for individuals — be they naturally born or formed through legal fiction — to engage in the truck and barter of their commerce and the agenda attendant thereto.

I'm not adverse to people naming what they build; what seems to be happening more and more is the construction/remodeling of civic institutions by one group, who later sells the naming rights for as much as they can. Seattle's football stadium might be the third most expensive at $75 million for 15 years, but that proves a bead of sweat compared to the $430 million it cost to build, quite a bit of that chunk of change backed by taxpayer-funded bonds.

There are a few problems with this whole naming rights fiasco. First, glean from the CLF Wiki that the stadium is next to the WaMu Theater, named (using the same procedure) by the now-defunct Seattle-based bank Washington Mutual. The bank is gone, but we are stuck with the name. Hey, it could be worse for us. In Boston, their opera house is named for a computer company that hasn't produced a named product in decades.

I've got a possible solution to this ongoing train wreck. We as citizens need simply to define how much the public must receive from the namers in return for the sacrifice of our civic spaces. We as a state should simply define what percentage of a structure's construction/remodeling cost the namers must present before the naming rights goes to them. I'm thinking 2/3 of total construction and ongoing maintenance costs sounds fair. In fact, I think I'll be contacting a legal friend to see how we might draft this proposal into a State-wide initiative.

What do you think?

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
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[ profile] jwz shares this delightful and disturbing "debate" about the Do Not Track feature of browsers. When someone proposed "marketing" be allowed on a list of "Permitted Uses for Third Parties and Service Providers" in future standards definitions, a few expressed confusion. This prompted Marketer Rage-On:

Marketing fuels the world. It is as American as apple pie and delivers relevant advertising to consumers about products they will be interested at a time they are interested. DNT should permit it as one of the most important values of civil society. Its byproduct also furthers democracy, free speech, and – most importantly in these times – JOBS. It is as critical to society – and the economy – as fraud prevention and IP protection and should be treated the same way.

Marketing as a permitted use would allow the use of the data to send relevant offers to consumers through specific devices they have used. The data could not be used for other purposes, such as eligibility for employment, insurance, etc. Thus, we move to a harm consideration. Ads and offers are just offers – users/consumers can simply not respond to those offers – there is no associated harm.

(Yup. I emphasized his stupidity.)

The Do Not Track feature was implemented for privacy and security-conscious people, yes, but it should have been motivated by the public's healthy desire to etch the emboldened phrase on a burred piece of rough-cut steel and have that shoved up the ass of the author above while at least a hundred people shouted "Bullshit!" in unison.

There is harm in advertising. There is harm. It hurts enough to have it stop.
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On recommendation of the guys at Radiolab, I started listening to and thoroughly enjoying 99% Invisible. Short, well-produced, thought provoking; just darned good podcasting. There was the little turd at the end of each episode, though, a commercial plug for some shit or another that simply doesn't belong on public radio, even good public radio.

So when producer Roman Mars turned to Kickstarter to fund his third season, and got not just the target but over a hundred grand more than that, making it "the most funded journalism project in Kickstarter’s history," things were looking up ad-wise. With this much funding, goodbye ads!

Or so dreamers like me would think.

Alas, when Episode 61: A Series of Tubes went out to the public, the obligatory commercial dunning from the obligatory shitty businesses that dun tainted the tail end of an otherwise wonderful and informative piece of audio journalism, demonstrating once again that advertising is not about the money. It is obviously about something else.

Here's the letter to Mr. Mars. )

As you can read above, I'm done suggesting "solutions," especially to Mr. Mars. He had the solution. He squandered the opportunity it presented. Public radio has become commercial, and no amount of public contributions is going to apparently change that. The lesson, therefore, is don't give money to public radio ever again.
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I got another rude interruption to my podcast listening the other day, this time from The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, a podcast I've shoved in my ears now for over four years. The interruption came this time from two of the skeptics themselves schlepping wares for an online audio book purveyor. I'll cut the gory details of this particular campaign. )

For a fascinating perspective on new communications media and the patterns they historically follow as they developed, I cannot recommend Tim Wu's The Master Switch enough. It's a long excerpt, but a good one. )

So here we are, folks, at the dawn of yet another new technology, "bright with promise and possibility." And already the success of early podcasters has prompted them to embrace the very force that, in my opinion, if not destroyed at least hobbled the creativity of the internet's predecessors. And here I am, seemingly a lone voice trying to rein in the hobblers before everyone accepts that advertising must happen before a production can be considered legitimate.

I can't help shaking the realization that I may be very, very alone in my quixotic tilt at advertisement windmills. But tilt I will, my keyboard as my lance. You, dear reader, may be my Sancho or just entertained by a very public display of amusing delusion, I don't know. Me and my pygmy pony will ride all along the borderline either way.
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Almost a year ago, I wrote a plea letter to Radiolab, a most enjoyable show tainted by the bane of an increasing number of podcasts, commercial advertising. I begged them to abandon the commercial model, perhaps to replace it with an option giving listeners commercial-free content in return for a modest donation.

Their most recent podcast opens with a counter-argument, and offer of extras for a donation of $75, quite a bit more than the $5/year I suggested. Ah, but then they blew it. Immediately after the donation plea came the fucking ads, this time for REI and some anti-virus pusher.

Which really pissed me off, since I like REI. Their flagship store here in Seattle is beautiful, a joy to visit. I even buy their stuff (on occasion; it's an indulgence). Sadly, that must end now. One does not do business with those that promote actions contrary to the common good.

Of course, it does me no good to do this without notice. Though I haven't written it, the letter to them will probably look something like this. )

After that is written, I will enclose it in another letter, this one to Radiolab proper. It might look something like this. )

So, that was my bellyaching. A question might be asked: Why? Why am I tilting my joust at such silly windmill dragons? It's a fair question. )
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It looks like they've pressured an affiliate to fire a syndicated host because she exercised her free speech. In itself this might not be a story, were it not for the hoards of NPR voices that do the same thing. As the fired hostess, Lisa Simeone, noted:

“I find it puzzling that NPR objects to my exercising my rights as an American citizen — the right to free speech, the right to peaceable assembly — on my own time in my own life. I’m not an NPR employee. I’m a freelancer. NPR doesn’t pay me. I’m also not a news reporter. I don’t cover politics. I’ve never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I’ve done for NPR World of Opera. What is NPR afraid I’ll do — insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?

“This sudden concern with my political activities is also surprising in light of the fact that Mara Liaason reports on politics for NPR yet appears as a commentator on FoxTV, Scott Simon hosts an NPR news show yet writes political op-eds for national newspapers, Cokie Roberts reports on politics for NPR yet accepts large speaking fees from businesses. Does NPR also send out ‘Communications Alerts’ about their activities?”

(Emphasis from the original article.)

Rant Mode in Full ON: This is what happens when a public agency accepts commercial advertising. Yes, Fox fomented this kerfuffle with its Liberal Media non-sense; but when the NPR advertisers back up Fox's position by using the power their purses give their voice, bad and silly things happen that are most un-liberal.

If you still give money to these whores, I admire your persistent optimism. Please, write the ombudsman and complain about this firing. Note the discrepancies and hopefully get Mara Liaason fired as well, not because I don't like her but because the logic of NPR's action demands to be extended simply to show the silliness on which it is based.
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I case you haven't noticed, I've been tearing along in the past few months on a rant against excessive advertising and the obvious effects it has been having on our nation's media. (Click on my Culture of Whores tag for a primer.) Things just reached a tipping point for me on the podcast front, so it's time to unveil my next cunning plan.

Behold! The Cunning Plan in all its glory! )
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Well, I've gone and done it. My local public radio station, KUOW, sent me a nice pre-addressed mailing envelope and a request for a nice donation. Here's the letter they will get instead. ) Essentially, it's a "we're done" letter with a caveat that things could be rosy once again if they shape up.

Advertisers and public radio stations suffer an asymmetry when it comes to their knowing the results of their actions. In the business world, people respond positively to "good" or effective ads that draw in a marked increase in sales. Therefore it can be pretty easy to tell which ad campaigns should be continued or expanded. Bad ads, though, can be attributed to downturns in the economy, a competitor's new product, everyone out drinking the day the ad ran, phases of the moon, whatever. By the same token, NPR stations that run these "enhanced sponsorship" spots see the cash they bring but can write off the cash they lose from now-disgruntled listeners who fail to make their contributions to any number of circumstance, related or not. That's why I felt a letter of explanation necessary. I want them to know why contributions might be down this year.

I also remembered an anecdote regarding bugs that might, if better known, highlight the dangers to increasing advertising presence. )

Bugs and ads share quite a bit in common. Both attempt to brand media content just as flaming or freezing metal rods with shaped appendages brand cattle. And just as in the cattle analogy, both hurt those on the receiving end. My example and -- to a much greater extent -- the threatening letter writer's both show how some people feel so much more much psychological pain from this branding than others.

Maybe we are too thin-skinned, I don't know. By the same logic, perhaps people suffering from malnutrition can supplement their diets with the same stuff that helps pigs in factory CAFOs get fat with less food, trench liquor. Just dilute their own shit and piss in their drinking water and serve. Most will survive, and those will get fat. Or perhaps, just as I noted in the first Culture of Whores post from over 3 years ago, dates should expect to put out for those buying their dinners rather than just coyly reserving the "option" of sex.

Such speculation is quite beside the point. We can -- indeed we must -- understand that the increasing amount of advertising to which we are all subjected has to have some psychological effect on us. We must become either overtly inured to this bombardment, or suffer from it in ways we may only be beginning to understand.

On that note, I'm saying No More! with a note. Maybe someone will take heed. I doubt it, but a guy adverse to adverts can hope. Even so, at least it doesn't threaten grievous bodily harm.
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Had an interesting conversation with a friend today. Somehow, we got to talking about saving verses spending, especially when it comes to interest-bearing debt. A few recent readings came to mind, Jeff Yeager's The Cheapskate Next Door and The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches: A Practical (and Fun) Guide to Enjoying Life More by Spending Less. I caught him at the local bookstore pushing his latest. I have to give him credit; he's making the book tour on bicycle. The Wife is also now working her way through The Scavenger's Manifesto.

Suddenly, it hit me; Cheap Shots, the next big reality show that follows cheap people. Freegans, Dumpster Divers, Scavengers -- anyone who can live well on very little by eschewing the Consume Now! message blaring at everyone all the time.

Just as suddenly, I realized why no show could ever be produced; no one would sponsor it. Really, now, if you had advertising dollars to spend, would you pick a show, no matter how popular, that attracted the kind of viewers least likely to spend money on your products or services?!?

My friend didn't think the matter was so open-and-shut. After all, most reality shows use creative editing, music and juxtaposition to create conflict and drama that people on set during the shoot didn't necessarily experience themselves. Therefore, a producer could easily shoot the cheap to look like social pariahs. I countered that, were the production actually worth watching, that producers would scour the country looking for people that weren't socially awkward on camera, but still very happy in their lifestyle.

I'm curious: What do you folks think? Would a reality show following people who deliberately spend very little money and yet lead great lives be worth watching? By that reasoning, could it be produced? Comment away!
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I admit I've been shunning NPR lately, mostly due to my disgust at their glaringly overt political conflicts of interest marring their reporting. My trust in them at an ebb, a friend then forwards me the transcript of a recent piece noting the organizations behind right-wing campaign funding:

With these advertisers and others, the same words come up again and again: Grass-roots. Nonpartisan. Independent.

Their ads seem to imply the groups are homegrown. But every single one mentioned here is based within 20 minutes of Capitol Hill. Most of them, in fact, are in just two office suites.

As for their independence: It would be illegal for them to coordinate their attacks with the candidates they're helping, or with Republican Party committees. But among themselves, they're proud of the way they synchronize their efforts. (Emphasis mine.)

Even better, NPR has coordinated various reports on these astro-turf organizations and created an interactive flow chart outlining the connections between them. There are three interactive guided tours available in the box to the upper left of the chart, and info on individual players in the chart can be had by clicking "Explore the Network."

This is the kind of reporting NPR national probably couldn't do under the W administration, given appointee Ken Tomlinson's reign of terror. If they continue to do it, they will probably lose lots of those advertisers like The Public Notice, The Koch Foundation, Ally Bank, and all the other political pressure groups masquerading as philanthropists . . . which would be fine by me.

I'm mulling an idea for a true grass-roots effort to root out the corrupting influence these corporate contributors have on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but for now I'll give them this small and happy plug, and conditionally think about once again listening and donating. Good job, guys. Keep it up.
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Remember the recent drama I pointed out from NPR? Well, yesterday I got an email:

Thank you for contacting NPR.

We are sorry you have experienced an error. We have forwarded your email to the appropriate individuals who will look into this. Thank you for your patience. . . .

I just checked, and the "Tax Me, Please" Planet Money episode has been restored! Listen yourself to awesome Danes dropping knowledge on libertarian tool Adam Davidson.

That his attitude reflected biases even he probably didn't notice was noticed by a blogger at Baseline Scenario:

I feel bad picking on Davidson, because (a) he does great work, (b) he’s just speaking extemporaneously here, and (c) Planet Money did just put together two great episodes on Denmark, land of high taxes, low unemployment, and low income disparity. But my point is not that he’s wrong; it’s that mainstream, centrist, reasonable people have these beliefs internalized like this. This tradeoff between equality and growth is a theory of Davidson’s “more libertarian economists,” but by the end of the passage (from “Now I think”), he’s assuming it’s true, and that to get the increased prosperity of capitalism you have to have a high degree of inequality and instability. This is the kind of thing you ordinarily hear from bankers. . . .; that so many people take it for granted is the problem.

(I added emphasis.)

Exactly my point. Still, with the podcast's restoration my faith in public radio has been partially restored!
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In my last post I made a mistake. I referred to an enhanced sponsorship spot as one dealing with "tax". I was wrong. In my fury sparked by Morning Edition's "news" I conflated the stories on taxes with the actual agency providing NPR with money.

As I noted in the addenda, this morning I got an email from a KUOW employee correcting my misunderstanding:

I think you may be looking for this:

Public Notice, an independent organization dedicated to reducing
government spending. Learn more at The Public Notice dot org;

So The Public Notice doesn't deal with taxes at all. They deal with spending. That's so very different.

What happens when we dive a bit into this agency? What, for example, would we learn from their Mission Statement?

Our goal is to provide Americans with clear, unbiased, and useful information about key economic and fiscal issues. Because America's future should rest in the capable hands of a knowledgeable people.

How laudable. And who are the people behind such a fine mission? From their About page, we learn:

Public Notice is an independent non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well-being.

Through education and awareness projects, Public Notice engages Americans on today’s policies, to avoid tomorrow’s problems.

Americans, empowered with the facts, can lead Washington to be better stewards of the nation’s economic and fiscal future.

When I stumble on words like "unbiased" and "independent", I immediately look for the bias and control. I've seen far too many of these non-profits to assume otherwise. They are almost all fronts for some very biased and control-oriented people. So I went to a site on DailyKos that step-by-step shows how to find the funders. Sadly, the instructions outline how to follow the money of a specific type of organization somewhat unlike The Public Notice.

Burrowing into the Press Releases The Public Notice offered, though, I learn that "Gretchen Hamel, Executive Director of Public Notice, said the following:". Now we have a name. Google should provide the rest.

The Overlordess Herself

Talking Points Memo delivers:

A former Bush administration PR specialist has launched a new non-profit designed to raise the alarm about what it sees as "over-spending" in Washington -- but is staying mum on how the group is being funded. . . .

Public Notice's funding source remains obscure. In an interview with TPMmuckraker, Hamel -- who served as the Bush administration's top spokesperson on trade issues, and as press secretary for the House Republican Conference -- said Public Notice had "dozens of donors across the U.S.," but declined to identify them. "We will not be disclosing our donors," she said. "We want to protect the anonymity of our donors," she added, noting that other organizations of all political stripes take a similar stance.

So "dozens of donors" are able to pony up anonymous cash for a slick PR foundation to release press pieces and produce videos all bemoaning the behemoth that has become the federal government . . . and force NPR -- an agency partially funded by the federal government -- to promote this activity.

That September 8 Morning Edition spot might as well have said:

Funding for this public radio programming comes from The Public Notice, an agency that would like to kill and bury public radio.

The Public Notice is, folks, just another right-wing Overton Window shifty agency following Lewis Powell's now infamous script. Had they been truly non-partisan, they would have been formed back when federal spending got truly egregious and out of control . . . under Reagan.

Furthermore, let's face the most obvious problem with The Public Notice's tactics: They completely ignore the alternative to cutting federal spending; raising taxes to levels that can sustain the spending. Funny thing, so did that pair of stories on Morning Edition.

And I have yet to hear about restoring that NPR Planet Money piece where just about everyone asks about taxes in Denmark says they are a good thing. Strange that almost all of it should so conveniently disappear, isn't it? I'll give the national ombudsman a few days to catch up on what is probably a deluge of letters just like mine . . . perhaps generated for the same reasons.
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NPR, you've done it again.

Just this morning, Morning Edition ran two stories back to back. The first examined Democrats in the electoral cross hairs because the President wants to roll let Bush's tax cut expire only for the richest payers:

A full-blown congressional debate on the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts is expected this fall, but some lawmakers have already weighed in on the most controversial issue: whether it makes sense, at a time of huge budget deficits, to extend those tax cuts for household income that exceeds $250,000.

Excuse me, "makes sense"? Here we are facing an unprecedented deficit, a crushing and growing debt, and turning down revenue from the only Americans who can afford it doesn't make sense?!? Oh, and just to top off the craptastic reporting with a cherry and a heaping dollop of Fuck You, they follow that bit of pandering treacle by adding up exactly how much in taxes a wealthy couple spends. "Milkove is one of those people who carefully tracks just about every dollar spent, so we're able to get a good picture of how much sales tax they pay in a year." Well, la-de-fucking-da. Then the story leaves the yuppies for a moment to get a quote from one of those think tank flunkies, this one from something called The Tax Foundation:

"People get very frustrated at taxes that are relatively small compared to big taxes," says Gerald Prante, an economist at the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based tax-tracking think tank.

"I mean, if you look at this list," he says, looking at the tax tally that Milkove came up with, "everything is chump change compared to the federal income tax.

I decided after something happened to look into this foundation. Look what I found on their "About Us" page:

The year was 1937, the heart of the Great Depression. During the previous decade, first under Herbert Hoover, then under Franklin Roosevelt, federal spending had climbed 170 percent; over the previous five years internal revenue collections had risen 198 percent.

Concerned about the effect such expansion might have on private sector growth, a small group of business executives gathered in New York City to discuss how they could monitor fiscal activities at all levels of government and convey the information to the general public. They decided to launch an organization which, through research and analysis, could inform and educate Americans using objective, reliable data on government finance.

In the subsequent seven decades, the Tax Foundation has been a national leader in promoting a sense of "tax consciousness" in the public.

(Yeah, I emphasized.)

On the surface, this dissemination of "tax consciousness" seems laudable, right? Who could argue about that? Ah, but let's remember what happens when the news is too one-sided. If the only news about taxes comes from those with a direct financial interest in lower taxes, no one gets the whole story. Furthermore, this kind of foundation is one of those whose funding could fuel itself. The more they prove able to lower taxes through "education," the more they will undoubtedly receive from people who, well, saved when taxes were lowered.

I digress, though. What was it that prompted my trip into Rage Town? After these stories, two of those "enhanced sponsorships" popped up near the 6:30 mark, just before the 5 minute national and local news recaps. One (IIRC) was for Progressive Insurance . . . and the other . . . (drum roll, please) . . . was for The Tax Foundation!!!* Here, they described themselves as a group dedicated to lowering the size of government.

Motherfuckers. No, not you, Tax Foundation. You're only doing what everyone would expect from a scorpion. It's your nature, after all, to lie, lie, lie. I'm looking right at the turtle carrying you across this pond, those Nice Polite Republicans who have hijacked what used to be Public Radio.

Hey, NPR: Somewhere in your reporting, why don't you mention that income taxes today are lower than they have been in eighty years?!? Really. And don't just take my word for it. Look it up. It used to be that the top tax rate was 91%. I remember those times. They were pretty okay. Now, there's debate in raising the top tax to less than half of its historic high, and people can only talk on the radio about how high taxes are? How about a little historical perspective?

For shame. Really, for shame. NPR could report on taxes fairly. Their Planet Money thing noted that most people in Denmark believed taxes are a good thing. Don't bother following the link to the podcast, though. Only the first minute seems to be there. I shouldn't be surprised, I suppose. It seems the entire NPR agency is bent on squelching any data that would support increased taxes, as per apparent marching orders from their supporters like The Tax Foundation and their Koch overlords.

Haven't heard about the Koch brothers, have you? Well, do some reading. That Charles especially has his paws in everything, including NPR and PBS. In fact, quoted in the article is a man who knows the brothers Koch personally, a Bruce Bartlett, an economist . . . who has been featured on Planet Money. More and more, my letter to Adam Davidson reveals not how much he needs to learn about finance and monetary policy, but how much he knows about these topics, but is probably paid to obfuscate them.

I am simultaneously enraged and deflated. Enraged, because of the obvious shenanigans someone is playing at NPR headquarters. Deflated, because I feel I can do nothing about it. I am watching fascism in its literal form, and know that crying out about it, if only to warn others, will do nothing. It's like watching an oncoming train while tied to the tracks.

No, that's not it. More accurately, it's like watching a beautiful house burn, and noting that a group dressed as firefighters are squirting the flames with a hose charged with gasoline. NPR is part of that process, but instead of delivering the propellant through a hose, they are merely part of the gasoline bucket brigade. They don't fuel the fire as much as Fox and others, since they aren't heard by nearly as many and their spin isn't nearly as obvious; but fuel the fire of lies they do.

I can't do this anymore. I can't in good conscious give money to an organization seemingly bent not only on infusing commercial advertising into supposedly public radio, but furthermore does so while being nakedly brazen about the editorial control this advertising has on its news content. This has to stop, but I fear the edifice of our constitutional democracy will burn beyond recognition before it does.

*Oops. It was another group, not The Tax Foundation, but still one whose motives I would question. See addenda after the cut for more details, or this post for even more. Even though I got the name of the organization wrong, I kept the Tax Foundation rant in simply because both organizations, I'm quite sure, exist for the same reason. There are many different subspecies of scorpion.

This is turning out to be an ongoing investigation. Click here for continuing updates! )
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Wow! I just realized that I wrote that letter to my local public radio station almost a year ago. What has happened?

Nothing. Zip, zilch, the big goose egg. It's as if the letter was completely ignored.

I'd almost forgotten about it, or at least that it had been that long ago. Scouring my LJ for some links reminded me. And frankly, that pissed me off. Of all the organizations you would think would blow you off, the Public Broadcasting Network seems low on the list.

Some happy and sad news, though. Back in the post Commons Sense, dealing with my fears about increasing advertising on public media, I hinted at a situation I was not at liberty to mention. Well, The Wife has given notice from that job. I'll give details about that after she leaves officially, at least the details relevant to this topic. I'll also be able to give details about that darkly hinted scandal that I feel indicates how terribly far advertising has gone today, and how terribly high a price we might be paying because of it.

For now, though, I'll give the Director of Corporate Support a week to respond to my latest email, one I'll put below this cut. )


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