Finally — a conservative case for NPR! David Brooks tells Chris Matthews that NPR provides a low cost service to the US by creating a national culture that allows our immigrants to assimilate. The Daily Caller provides the video:
“Here’s the case: You know we have a common culture,” Brooks said. “If we’re going to assimilate people, if we’re going to be one nation – it helps to have a common culture. There’s some things that do join us. And government has some role in help creating those things, in funding the things that join us.”
Brooks likened public broadcasting to the Smithsonian and said it was worth the small amount of money from the U.S. Treasury.
“The Smithsonian museums do some of that,” he continued. “I think public broadcasting with shows like ‘The American Experience,’ they give us all something to clue into our history. They join us as a people. They assimilate immigrants and it’s worth a very small amount, and you should see my paychecks – a very small amount that we pay to this.”
Here’s the rebuttal case: the government’s role isn’t to create a “common culture.” If government had a real interest in a common culture, NPR might be the least efficient method of delivering one. The most efficient method would be to keep all government communications in a common language. Of all the “things that join us,” or in this case separate us, language is the most basic.
Furthermore, we wouldn’t have to pay extra to get the government to conduct all its business in one common language. In bilingual education alone the US spends billions of dollars, far more than its subsidies to public broadcasting. Requirements to print all notices and paperwork in a number of languages cost another fortune, including ballots which only US citizens can use, and naturalized citizens are supposed to demonstrate enough competency in English to fully engage as citizens.
NPR’s ratings makes a joke of the notion that it creates a “national culture” of any kind, and the proliferation of choices available to consumers underscores the point. The only culture NPR helps push is an entitlement culture.
Update: Noel Sheppard catches Chris Matthews on the same show making a mistake that most conservatives would probably excuse:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: If the Republicans get a real opportunity next year because President Carter, President – there’s a mistake – President uh, uh, Obama doesn’t seem to have a grip on it, he doesn’t seem to be able to pull the economy back. He’s not, it’s not working. Who would be the best to exploit that situation? Because that’s the person who would win.