How Much Is Big Bird Actually Worth?

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line today about President Trump’s plan to cut funding for Public Broadcasting. The article illustrates the fact that in some cases, executives of nonprofit organizations make salaries that don’t sound as if they are appropriate for an organization that is nonprofit.

The article reminds us of two conflicting statements made by NPR about their budget:

On average, less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget comes in the form of grants from CPB [the taxpayer-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting]  and federal agencies and departments.

…Federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public. Its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR. . . Elimination of federal funding would result in fewer programs, less journalism—especially local journalism—and eventually the loss of public radio stations, particularly in rural and economically distressed communities.

Both of those statements cannot be true. I have no idea which one is.

The article further reports:

According to tax filings — the most recent of which covers 2014 — then-president and CEO Melvin Ming was paid more than $586,000 in salary and benefits in the nine months before retiring, which included a $37,500 bonus and $18,700 in benefits. The year before that, Ming cleared $672,391 in salary, bonuses and benefits.

That’s five times the average pay for CEOs at nonprofits, according to Charity Navigator. (It’s twice as much as the CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets paid.)

The average compensation for the other 10 top officials at Sesame Workshop in 2014 was a very handsome $382,135 — which is about six times the median household income in the U.S.

Big Bird is big business. The article states:

Last year, Sesame Workshop had $121.6 million in revenues. Of that, $49.6 million came in distribution fees and royalties and $36.6 million in licensing of toys, games, clothing, food and such. In 2014, only 4% of its revenue came from government grants.

I suspect there are other programs on Public Broadcasting that would do quite well if they chose to market items related to their television shows. I truly think it is time to give the free market the chance to work its magic in the area of Public Broadcasting.

Why It Is Important To Check The Accuracy Of News Sources

This is not a perfect blog. Over the years I have been fooled a few times by stories that were not accurately reported by my sources, but generally I have checked the source before I reported anything. However, political bias is very subtle and can be difficult to spot. There are also many forms of political bias. Recently NPR posted a map that convinces me that they are either totally ignorant of geography or supporting an agenda I totally disagree with.

An article at Breitbart.com today reports the following:

National Public Radio (NPR) published a map that erases the existence of Israel and replaces it with “Palestine,” a watchdog group reported.

The map, which has since been removed by NPR, accompanied a feature on health titled, “What Are You Afraid Of In 2016? Globetrotters Share Their Fears.”

In November, media monitoring site HonestReporting pointed out that CNN Money also published a map of the Middle East that did not include Israel in an article titled, “Beyond ISIS: 2016’s scariest geopolitical hot spots.”

“It is completely unacceptable for NPR to publish an image that erases Israel from the map. That nobody at NPR recognized just how problematic this image is on multiple levels speaks volumes about the deficiencies in the editorial process,” HonestReporting’s Managing Editor Simon Plosker said.

“NPR should do the right thing and either restore Israel to its legitimate place or come clean and acknowledge that the map, in the context of the article, is meant to signify a fear of the Muslim world. Given this choice, NPR should consider removing the image in its entirety,” he added.

This is the map:

NPR map erases Israel

There are other mistakes in the map, but to omit Israel is simply inexcusable. It is interesting to note that in the grand scheme of things, Israel is probably the safest place for Americans in the Middle East.

The Unintended Consequences Of Accountability

This article has two sources, an article in the U.K. Telegraph posted on March 30 and an article posted at Real Clear Politics yesterday.

As the British government struggles to keep pace with the expenses involved in providing a safety net for its citizens, some government programs are being phased out and combined with other programs. One of the programs under scrutiny is the sickness benefit program.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary. is attempting to combine dozens of different out-of-work benefits into a single payment with the aim of ensuring an individual is always better off working than collecting benefits. As part of that process, there is an assessment of the people on the sickness benefit program to determine whether or not they are fit to work. Some 878,300 people on that program decided to come off the program rather than submit to the assessment. We need to learn from this experience.

The article at Real Clear Politics looks at disability payments in America:

In 1960, when vastly more Americans were involved in physical labor of some kind, 0.65% of workforce participants between the ages of 18 and 64 were receiving Social Security disability insurance payments. Fifty years later, in a much healthier America that number has grown to 5.6%.

In 1960, 134 Americans were working for every officially recognized disabled worker. Five decades later that ratio fell to roughly 16 to 1.

I am sure that in most cases disability payments are warranted. In fact, I am sure that everyone who is disabled does not necessarily look disabled. I can think of one example in particular where a person received severe neck damage in a work-related car accident and on some days appears to be perfectly normal. On other days, that person can barely move. Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting which days are which. However, I do think there are people among us who would rather ride in the wagon than help pull it. The problem is that at this point we have too few people pulling the wagon and too many people sitting in the wagon.

Government workers have no incentive to cut disability payments–their jobs depend on administering these programs–if you cut the programs, you might have to cut the number of administrators. Government spending has become like the hamster on the exercise wheel–it keeps moving (and growing) but nothing is actually being accomplished.

If we are serious about ever balancing the federal (and states) budget, we need to take a serious look at who is receiving payments from that government and what the basis for those payments is. Until we are willing to help people enter the workforce instead of helping them enter generations of dependency on government, we will not solve our financial problems.

Click And Clack Are Retiring

Today’s Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Magliozzi Brothers, Tom and Ray, of the NPR Radio Show “Car Talk” (where they are known as the Tappet Brothers) are retiring. They will stop recording new shows in October. “Car Talk” began taping 35 years ago at Boston’s MBUR radio station. I have no idea how good their advice was, but they were extremely entertaining. I also enjoyed the ‘puzzler’ that they would inject into the show. I am sorry to see them go.

Enhanced by Zemanta