Bridget Bush is an attorney, and yet her personal blog on BLOGGER looks as 1995 as it is. Representative of her behind-the-times design, she pushes a tired argument about public media in her Courier-Journal op-ed, “Stop funding elitist, anti-capitalist NPR, PBS.”
The piece also is emblematic of right-wing discussions of poverty.
Let’s start with the use of the term elitist. It’s a term that has been as gerrymandered as the districts that Republicans couldn’t win 20 years ago. The definition of elitist is: “relating to or supporting the view that a society or system should be led by an elite.” Elite people being those of the highest economic class in our country…ummm, Bush’s own. I’m not surprised that this term is continuously misused. I am always not surprised but, rather, disappointed when seemingly well-educated and intelligent women do the bidding of the class that resists their presence the most.
But I digress, let’s spit on the merits of this argument.
Bush insists that funding PBS is government overreach. Look, I’m trying not to laugh either, but here we are. She admits that she’s sucked from the trough of its programming for years, and yet “because” of Netflix and other pay options, it should cease to exist, or at least cease to be funded because “we need economic policies to allow people who want to work hard to escape poverty — not policies to make poverty more comfortable.”
Madame, are you really saying that poor folks have too much stuff but should be able to buy their own cable?
Can we all talk about this cozy vacation that is being poor in America? Surely Bush means the poverty in which child abuse, domestic violence and gun violence rates escalate. Or in which every negative health metric (diabetes, heart disease, cancer) ticks upward? Being poor is a real goddamn Cabo San Lucas.
But pardon me: Bush is equipped with talking points and the phony idea that she excelled in this world on her own merits and no help from anyone. I don’t know Bush from all the other well-fed, well-heeled American aristocracy who believe the same garbage about poor people, but have probably spent so little time with actual poor people that they believe being poor is a dog walk in spring with less Gucci or children running filthy with no shoes in cotton fields while Bushes sip tea on Southern verandas.
Bush said, “Downton Abbey’s popularity was so immense that it could have charged a subscription. Further, each episode was preceded by tony infomercials for Viking Cruises or Ralph Lauren. The airing of Downton Abbey could have been funded with additional advertising.”
PBS was not founded simply as an alternative to the other stations as Bush states, but as a nonprofit, non-commercial option, with an emphasis on educational programming. Sure, Nick Jr. has educational programming, but it comes in cable packages of $60 a month per family. PBS costs $1.37 per person to fund. Netflix is $8 minimum per household. I’m sure she spent that much at Whole Foods for her lunch.
Bush argues that this money is borrowed from China. But it is less than .01 percent of our total budget. I’d suggest we’re borrowing much more to pay for bombs that are wasted on empty targets by a president who is dealing with some age-related, memory issues.
PBS is a minimum tax investment that I’m willing to make for any of those people who can’t afford better, and I elect to do it with my tax dollars.
The moral of this is: Bush’s arguments aren’t new. She wants poor people to just stop being poor. It doesn’t work that way. And the money Bush wants to stop borrowing from China could come directly from the military complex that needs to function smarter and not larger. Wars aren’t fought on the same battlefields, and it is sophomoric to think otherwise.