The 1969 clip below shows the late Mr Fred Rogers coming out of his neighborhood to educate Congress on why the American people should fund PBS to the tune of 20 million dollars because he said “It’s very important to me, I care deeply about children.” However, Rogers admits right off the bat, that his own budget had gone from $30 to $6000, in part from donations by the Sears-Roebuck Foundation as well as taxpayer dollars.
In a short 6-minute emotional appeal designed to make you cry, Mr. Rogers softly appeals for more money. A child development “expert,” he talks about the “inner drama” of children and their anger. He then gets into a little “catharsis” therapy training, asking kids to stomp or punch a glop of clay when they get mad. Of course, that only exacerbates the anger and does not deal with its causes. But the idea of funding programs of this soft-spoken uncle makes some people feel good, never mind that his programs may be dispensing bad advice.
“When the money ran out, people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said we’ve go to have more of this neighborhood expression of care…. I end the program by saying ‘you’ve made this day a special day, just by being you.’
Rogers gave the chairman of the committee “goose bumps”. Chairman Pastore never asked him why the caring people of Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago didn’t just make donations themselves. Per the usual, it is easy to be generous with other people’s money.
NPR and PBS are largely funded–80% by some estimates–by private donations and private foundation grants. Good. That is the way it should be. Donate yourself if you want. Donate big. Donate with tears. Donate with rationality. But don’t make others fund programs (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars for PBS alone) which they believe may do more harm than good, add to a back-breaking deficit, and use funds in an unconstitutional manner. Mitt Romney got this one right.