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Why subsidize NPR with federal bucks and not KAT Country?
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You've got to love the debate over federal funding of National Public Radio.

We are told by defenders of the $5 million annual federal taxpayer infusion that:

• It won't do anything to reduce the federal deficit. (Apparently the quote misattributed to the late Everett Dirksen is correct, for Congress anyway, that "a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.")

• It serves underserved markets. (This must mean white listeners - 86 percent - who on a whole make a ton more money than most other folks do have limited options?)

• It'll be the death of programs such as "Prairie Home Companion" and "Car Talk." (As if that is an issue of national concern.)

• Some people in rural markets won't be able to keep up on news. (Then, pray tell, why is the federal government dumping tons of money to make Internet accessible in remote locations? Is it just so they can watch dogs doing stupid tricks?)

• It will be the death knell in NPR programming. (Come on, folks, it is a 3 percent hit out of a $145.5 million annual budget. Mom and Pop stores barely hanging on have taken bigger hits than that and survived.)

• And my favorite, eliminating the money will impact 7,800 jobs at 414 stations in 280 Congressional districts based on a study by the Democrats in the House of Representatives. (Anything Congress does - whether it is taking money from people known in the polite vernacular as taxes or doles the bucks out impacts employers and their workers. The real political truth is the fact it impacts 280 Congressional Districts which, freely translated, 280 members of Congress have a special interest group yapping at their feet).

No one debates the high quality of NPR reporting but you'll notice the New York Times - which isn't exactly the National Enquirer - manages to have its share of high quality reporting. The Times is not asking that their syndication service that distributes their stories to subscriber newspapers with significantly less resources be subsidized by federal taxpayers.

As for NPR programming, it definitely is a couple of hundred cuts above "South Park" and "Two and a Half Men." But is it really wise to have federal taxpayers pay part of the tab? Since government doesn't control NPR - the way it should be - there is nothing stopping them from syndicating a program that combines the worst of "South Park" with the best of Charlie Sheen. Given Sheen's love of the monologue he could be a cutting edge Garrison Keillor with his own show on NPR. That, you might say, will never happen. NPR, after all, has culture.

This brings us to the real point. Why should federal tax dollars subsidize one culture over another by making certain programming available to various markets? In this case it happens to be a tad high brow.

Given the fact NPR gets $63 million in programming fees from various stations and $35 million in corporate sponsorships, could it be the folks who listen to NPR just don't like commercials? Obviously NPR can get the corporate sponsors.

Don't you think the disc jockeys on KAT country would like to play less commercials and more music? That's not the way it works if they want to get paid. But then again, why should the KAT Country audience have to listen to commercials if they really don't want to? You don't hear many people say they're going to turn on KAT Country to listen to the commercials. Commercials keep KAT Country on the air for those who want to hear country music.

NPR will have none of that. It's too pedestrian and lacks culture.

And speaking of culture, where does Congress get off underwriting discrimination?

If you can only speak Spanish or Hmong there is no Spanish or Hmong national public radio umbrella to help struggling radio station taking aim at those markets and to "keep them informed."

NPR's demographics show it is upscale and has a fairly good sized chunk of listeners in real rural markets.

Why not let Madison Avenue have its way? You can bet if the bulk of the 33.7 million NPR listeners have more disposal income than the rest of us, advertisers would be salivating over the chance to get commercials on the air. The same is true of companies that cater to consumers in isolated markets who are apt to shop through the mail.

After all is said and done, the idea of a federal subsidy to some degree of NPR may have made some sense on some level decades ago. It doesn't make sense, though, in the age of Internet, cell phones, cable TV, satellite radio, and social media that make communicating about everything from international events to what's happening in the neighborhood and right down to the debate about cutting federal funding of NPR virtually instantaneous.