Journalism Needs Government Help??? Update

Thanks to Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek for directing me Jeff Jacoby’s column, Don’t give the press a bailout.  Jacoby provides a worthy alternative to Bollinger’s thinking.  And it looks like more is on the way.  The title of his next column is Fair and balaned — and government subsidized?

In his current column Jacoby asks a key question:

Subsidies always amount, in the end, to confiscating money from many taxpayers in order to benefit relatively few. Those who call for keeping newspapers and other old media alive with injections of public funds are really saying that if people won’t support those forms of journalism voluntarily, they should be made to do so against their will.

I believe every American family should subscribe to one or two newspapers and read them regularly. But that doesn’t give me the right to make you pay for a subscription you don’t want — not even if I think you would be better off for it. How can the government have the right to do, in effect, the same thing?

The problem is too many people do believe the government does have this right.   This thinking usually comes from the belief that democracy means submitting to the will of a perceived majority (whether it is a majority or not), rather than understanding that the purpose of this representative republic is to preserve freedom in the classical sense (i.e. not freedom from consequences, rather freedom from encroachments on natural rights by others and the government).

Once that belief is established,  folks can be swayed by convincing cost-benefit analysis, even when such analysis have  produced such poor results in the past.  

Folks give too much credit to experts and assume they can accurately predict unpredictable things, not realizing that if these experts were such good predictors of unpredictable things they would all be wealthy beyond all of their dreams and have no need to turn a buck by producing propaganda for the folks looking for sound reasons to confiscate money from taxpayers to fulfill their political dreams.


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