Part 1: RR’s Lesson.
The revisionist history and flag waving when Reagan died was disgusting, especially given his role in creating the mess we are in today in the Middle East and here in Oregon.
Reagan got rid of the “fairness doctrine,” opening the door for Rush and Lars and their ilk. Under the fairness doctrine radio stations had to give balance to political issues, defined as controversial issues of public importance. So, in the mid- to late-1970s when a Vermont utility ran pro-nuclear power advertisements, our small public interest group in Montpelier demanded and received free advertising, one or two ads for every 3 or 4 of theirs, if memory serves me well on the ratio.
The demise of the fairness doctrine opened the door for the privatization of the public airwaves, and the poisonous, one-sided echo chamber spewed on billionaire Paul Allen’s KXL and other stations. Reagan’s death reminded me once again that what we need is more government to give the airwaves back to the public. Bring back the fairness doctrine.
Reagan’s oft quoted line “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem” comes from part of his inaugural when he discusses the rampant inflation of the 1970s. This became the rallying call of the Right and a mantra continuing today against virtually all government action in support of the common good. The Federal Reserve is a powerful government entity. If Reagan and others didn’t like the monetary policy that contributed to high inflation, what was needed was more government control over the powerful, and often too independent, Fed, not less.
Oregon Public Broadcasting has bemoaned being cut off from state funding – just the sort of thing Reagan and his legacy sought to accomplish. Sadly and ironically, OPB radio aired ad nausea the funeral proceedings. They didn’t have to – NPR sent them and other public radio stations two feeds that day. KLCC (out of Eugene with transmitters in Bend and the coast) showed better judgment and chose to give its listeners the regular news broadcasts. Frankly, I can’t think of a good reason for a public radio station to honor the death of the person responsible for taking away their public funding. Shame on OPB. I’m voting with my pocketbook next time my OPB membership comes due or they pitch for funds and mention the lack of state dollars. And when I’m in KLCC’s earshot, I also vote with my radio dial.
Part 2: Let them swim and get sick.
This past weekend Multnomah County health officials closed Blue Lake to swimming due to pollution. I don’t know how long it will be before it’s declared safe to use the lake again. As the libertarian, anti-government cabal – Cascade Policy Institute, Don McIntire’s Taxpayer Association of Oregon, Brainstorm Magazine and others – gather for their annual Lazy Fair picnic (admittedly a cute choice in names; will all the chicken that’s served be right wings?) at Blue Lake August 1, I wonder if they will heed the government’s warning. But for the public health analysis the Lazy Fair picnic attendees would never know whether the lake was safe. Given the Lazy Fair sponsors’ effort to repeal the temporary tax hike in Multnomah County and their disdain for the government, maybe county health officials ought to post a sign on the 1st that due to pending budget cuts the Lazy Fair picnic participants will have to swim at their own risk, or go to the expense of doing the test themselves. Wouldn’t that be poetic justice and help drive home the message to those who think government is the problem that they are dead (or at least sickly) wrong?