Government Money = Government Control

John Stossel has a post on Dan Rather's really bad idea to have the government restructure and, presumably, fund the media.

A press that is financially dependent on the government cannot be free. Even if it had formal protections against micromanaging by elected officials, socialized journalism would inevitably be compromised journalism. It would be no more independent than a subsidized farmer or a defense contractor.

Perhaps an even better example are state governments.  There are explicit protections - not just legal, but Constitutional - of state's authority vs. those of the Federal government.  Theoretically, it should be impossible for the Federal government to impose, say, seatbelt laws or restrictions on drinking age, as those are clearly in the purview of states.

But enter Federal highway and education money.  Time and again, states are threatened by the Federal government that it will withold money from a state -- money collected from taxpayers in that state -- unless the state passes legislation of its choosing.  If the Feds can use funding to push around California and Texas, what hope does the LA Times or the Houston Post have of avoiding such control, if their survival becomes dependent on federal funds.

  • Bob Smith

    That's a prisoner's dilemma type problem, no? If there were no defectors, the states would be free to do what they want. It's only when one state defects and says "I'll take the money" that the dominoes start to fall.

  • http://evilredscandi.blogspot.com Evil Red Scandi

    I absolutely agree that government subsidies of news organizations would lead to government control.

    The question is - would anybody be able to tell the difference? Seriously. If these guys had their tongues any further up Obama's ass they'd be tickling his tonsils.

  • greg

    a friend of mine (I can't take credit) has proposed an idea that no taxes should be paid by individuals to the federal government. Instead, localities should tax individuals, counties should tax localities, states tax counties, and the fed should tax the state.

    I'm sure there are some constitutional or other legal concerns surrounding this approach (besides the fact that it's yet another theoretical discussion).

    However, it would eliminate the problem in question, and provide the proper incentives at all levels.

  • John David Galt

    The root of the problem is Congress's practice of using tax money as bribes to states -- which is unconstitutional. (Federalist Paper #41 proves that "promoting the general welfare" is NOT really one of their powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8.)

    We need a Supreme Court willing to roll back the entire New Deal -- or a constitutional convention -- to get our constitutional form of government back.

  • Aaron Pollock

    If the Feds can use funding to push around California and Texas, what hope does the LA Times or the Houston Post have of avoiding such control, if their survival becomes dependent on federal funds.

    Well, for better or worse, the Houston Post is beyond the government's influence now.