Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Corporation For Public Innovation

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

At a time when the public is rightly concerned about the impact of sex and violence on TV, this administration is gonna protect the Muppets! We’re gonna protect Wall Street Week. We’re gonna protect Live From Lincoln Center. And by god we are gonna protect Julia Childs!”
- Toby Ziegler (played by Richard Schiff) from the television show The West Wing: Season 1, Episode 13 “Take Out The Trash Day”, Written by Aaron Sorkin (original airdate 1/26/2000)

Budgets – whether corporate, government, or personal - can be a difficult thing, especially in today’s economy. Just ask the Wisconsin State Legislature. What to cut? What to keep? Something’s always got to give. It’s just not possible to have and do everything you want. But when the prevailing milieu is all about cost-cutting, ever wonder whether innovation suffers? Does cost-cutting undermine future success?

At 4:40 A.M. on Saturday February 19, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 1 Continuing Resolution (CR) 235 votes to 189. It was a resolution with significant spending cuts. After the vote, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a statement said “Cutting federal spending is critical to reducing economic uncertainty, encouraging private-sector investment, and creating a better environment for job creation in our country. We will not stop here in our efforts to cut spending, not when we’re broke and Washington’s spending binge is making it harder to create jobs.”

What gets left in this cost-cutting wake? The EPA. The Corporation For Public Broadcasting. And more. Apparently though the Army, Air Force, and National Guard are still allowed to sponsor NASCAR teams.

Budgets can be a difficult thing. No question about it. I can’t help wonder though, whether cutting off funding for public broadcasting in particular might stifle the development of young future innovators or diminish the quality and distribution of important ideas.

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