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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Do It for Elmo

That's it. The Bush Administration has declared a budget war on Elmo (via Brandoland). Bush is proposing a budget cut of around $157 million to the public broadcasting system. Again. (Didn't we just fight this battle last year?)

Let's get something straight right up front: I am a huge supporter of public broadcasting. I grew up in a tiny little town (around 1700 people) in West Virginia. We had no city ballet. No symphony. No theater. Nada.

I learned to read by watching Sesame Street and the Electric Company. I saw my first opera on PBS -- Aida -- and fell in love with music. I learned to play the piano, then the violin, the flute and the baritone because I fell in love with symphony performances and begged my parents to let me take some lessons and later join our school band.

We weren't rich. We couldn't just hop a plane to New York or Washington, D.C., to see a show or the latest performance on Broadway, but through the magic of our PBS station, I could see them. I could experience the brilliance of Tennesee Williams, or haggle with William F. Buckley, Jr., or contemplate the latest in Washington political news or float along on the voice of Beverly Sills (that tells you how young I was when I started loving opera, doesn't it?). And so much more -- Nova alone opened an entire realm of science and space.

I have learned so much from PBS and NPR through the years, and I try to repay that debt by giving back to them during pledge drives when we've had the money to do so in our budget (which wasn't much during my lean law school years, but I still tried to do my part, even then).

This is so indicative of this Administration: if it doesn't do something for Bush and his cronies, then why should he care?

Well, here's a reason why -- because poor children in this nation face school systems that have less then adequate resources, since the federal government has given them a ton of "no child left behind" mandates without funding them, and PBS represents a stop-gap for a lot of these kids in terms of early childhood learning. Since you've already cut the budget for head start, for child support payments and for medical assistance for these poor children, I'm drawing the line at Elmo.

It's time to hit the fax machines and the phone lines, gang. Contact your Representatives in Washington and tell them this is a budget cut too far. Do it for Elmo.