by Joe Rudmin, advisor to Madison Liberty
Government funding of any enterprise, whether radio broadcasting, or transportation, or education interrupts the feedback mechanisms of free exchange in our economy, ultimately destroying that enterprise. An economy is people doing things for each other, and money is a tool whereby those who receive goods and services let the providers know whether they are satisfied. If the government funds an enterprise, then the government provides at least part of that feedback. So, the enterprise then starts responding to the desires of those running the government. Those making the funding decisions almost always encompass a very few individuals. In no way can those few individuals know the needs and wants of all those receiving the service, nor should they. We celebrate diversity of opinion and taste. That is why letters to the editor so often complain of bias in some particular brand of media, whether the complaint of left bias in NPR, or right bias in Fox News. This bias is reflected not only in opinions that are aired, but in priorities of what type of programming is offered. In general, if you don't like the bias of a station, you will change stations. There are many stations which serve a particular niche, thus serving a diversity of opinions and tastes. If a station serves too narrow a clientele, it usually disappears. At least it is not likely to outlive its biggest benefactors. However, government funding has no such limits in extent or time. Government survival depends on force and threat of force, not on serving anyone. Even with democracy, the feedback mechanism is very blunt. An issue such as broadcast quality is overwhelmed in concerns about more pressing issues. So, government funding impedes good service in an enterprise. Examples of corruption and failure to provide good service NEVER inspire government to withdraw from interfering in an enterprise. Rather, they inspire government to impose regulations and requirements on the entire enterprise, further strangling those who provide service to those NOT served by the government. Eventually, the school system turns out idiots who have wasted years of their lives, or the highway system ends in total gridlock, or the internet ends up as pure propaganda. Those in government find that situation attractive, because no longer does the failure of government have a success in free enterprise for comparison. Those running the government prefer to tightly grasp power than to allow people to enjoy prosperity, peace, and diversity of taste.