Plans to save Big Bird, the fuzzy yellow character on U.S. public television’s “Sesame Street,” from possible extinction are taking shape in the form of a puppet-based protest next month dubbed the “Million Muppet March.”
The demonstration is planned for November 3 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., three days before the general election.
Before the presidential debate between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had concluded on October 3, two men who had never met each floated the Million Muppet March idea on social media. They immediately united to defend public broadcasting.
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Mecham is a writer who is studying political science at Boise State University out of his interest in healthcare policy.
Bellavia is president of the animation studio Animax Entertainment, founded by former Second City actor Dave Thomas.
They may fall short of attracting a million people, or Muppets, to the event, but they do hope to create what Bellavia called a “lovefest” featuring skits and musical performances with Muppets.
“It does seem like we might get close to the biggest ever assemblage of puppets in one place,” he said, “and probably the most ever puppets marching on Washington.”
Hey, I like Sesame Street and Big Bird as much as the next guy. OK, not as much as these guys.
But there is a lazy and rather stupid assumption built into this Big Bird discussion: that Big Bird cannot exist without government money. Michael Medved begs to differ:
In fact, the mommy (or at least godmother) of those beloved characters has assured the world that talk of budget cuts at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting represent no threat at all to Big Bird, Elmo, and associates. Even before the latest flurry of concern raised by the Denver debate, Sherrie Westin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Sesame Workshop, told Soledad O’Brien of CNN: “Sesame Workshop receives very, very little funding from PBS. So we are able to raise our funding through philanthropic, through our licensed product, which goes back into the educational programming, through corporate underwriting and sponsorship. So, quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting. But when they always try to trot out Big Bird, and say we’re going to kill Big Bird—that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here … Big Bird lives on!”
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What Romney suggested in Denver simply repeated a point he’s been making for more than a year: that responsible White House leadership requires major cuts to inessential federal programs. The nominee has never equivocated on his pledge to review every significant government expenditure by posing an uncomfortable question: is this project so important that it’s worth borrowing more money from China in order to pay for it?
In the case of PBS, the answer ought to be an obvious no. Only a tiny proportion of the cost of operating the nation’s elaborate system of public broadcasting (with more than 350 independent stations across the country) comes from federal funding. The $445 million appropriated by Congress for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 2012 amounts to less than 18 percent of the estimated budget for the whole of America’s system of public TV and radio. In the case of the hugely popular Sesame Workshop, for instance, less than 8 percent of the yearly budget of $170 million comes from governmental sources, with the great bulk supplied by licensing agreements that produce toys and games and stuffed animals featuring all those beloved characters.
This is a larger metaphor for everything conservatives stand for — and for what we hope Mitt Romney will do in office. When Mitt Romney says he will “create” jobs, what he really means is that he will try to get government out of the way of private businesses and let them create jobs.
Want to know how to do that for real? Eliminate the minimum wage. Make it easy to fire people — weaken opportunities for people to sue over being fired. Slash regulations. Cut unemployment benefits.
How do you think Germany became a strong economy? They weren’t in 2002, you know. Then they implemented reforms along the lines I just discussed. And now, they’re the model economy in Europe.
Romney doesn’t have the guts to do all of these things. But he’ll do more than Obama would have.
Get government out of the way, and Big Bird will survive — and jobs will be created.
We don’t need government for this stuff. Really. It’s true.
Thanks to dana.