05 October 2009
What Government Can Do
The new Ken Burns documentary series is entitled The National Parks: America's Best Idea. After watching the first of the six-part series for free on pbs.org, it occurred to me that on the list of America's Best Ideas, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting also ought to rank pretty highly. Yes, it's like sixty years younger than the BBC. Yes, it's a convoluted system, where the public funds a private nonprofit corporation, which in turn funds individual local public television affiliates. Yes, it can be as much a political football as a public asset. But if taxpayer money is going to produce any television, it might as well be the best damn thing to air on TV since the West Wing. I know this isn't an airtight rationale for preserving the CPB, but let's all just take some time to savor the enjoyment of watching beautiful films about our public lands, funded (in part) by our public broadcast venture. It makes me feel good about my country, because, in the words of Sam Seaborn, "I think giving people a vision of government that's more than Social Security checks and debt reduction is good. I think government should be optimistic."