Auctioning Off a Public Resource — to Everyone’s Detriment
“It is unconscionable that candidates for public office have to buy access to the airwaves — which the public itself owns — to talk to the public.”
–Newton Minow, “A Glimmer in the Vast Wasteland“; The New York Times (10/3/2012)
No, I won’t be endorsing a candidate for President this Fall (at least not on this blog).
But, I am endorsing an idea — namely, campaign finance reform.
How absurd is it to have political candidates and office holders spend most of their time raising money to buy something that the public licenses to private corporations?
And then — surprise, surprise — be in thrall to the people (corporations?) who fund their campaigns.
Lenin famously said that a capitalist will “sell you the rope to hang himself with.”
As a society, we are turning a public resource into private (and grotesque) boondoggle.
P.S.: Newton Minow is most famous for calling TV — back in its 1960’s infancy — “a vast wasteland.”
Fans of sitcom Gilligan’s Island will be surprised to know that Mr. Minow — not the small fish — was actually the namesake of the show’s “S.S. Minow” (one “n,” not two) sailing vessel.
Apparently, one of the producers was paying Minow a (backhanded) compliment.