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Why we need public financing of investigative journalism

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Don Smith       (Page 4 of 6 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

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Second, people don't always act in their self-interest, especially when the benefits are neither immediate nor concrete. In fact, many people don't realize that journalism matters.

Third, I question whether government is necessarily or usually less efficient than private corporations. Government-funded health care in many industrialized countries is both cheaper and more effective than America's market-based system. Medicare in the US has lower overheads than private insurance, and VA health care is excellent. Nor are private companies immune to corruption, waste, and incompetence; consider Enron, AIG, GM, Wall Street, banks, and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

For example, a former Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, writes of the pharmaceutical industry: "Instead of being an engine of innovation, it is a vast marketing machine. Instead of being a free market success story, it lives off government-funded research and monopoly rights." See The Horrifying Hidden Story Behind Drug Company Profits and The Truth about the Drug Companies. The insurance companies are no better.

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Americans need to stop believing conservative talking points about the inevitable inefficiency and corruption of government. Besides, from 2000 until 2006, when conservatives controlled Congress and the White House, inefficiency and corruption flourished. (Indeed, the mismanagement was in many cases intentional.) In any case, the fact that government is sometimes corrupt and inefficient is no reason to minimize government, any more than the fact that people misuse medicines is in itself sufficient reason to eliminate medicines.

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Or, dear conservative friend, how about guns? People sometimes use guns to kill innocents, just as government sometimes is corrupt and inefficient. Shouldn't we then, by your logic, minimize the availability of guns?

Government is often corrupted by private corporations. Why not then eliminate private corporations?

We need to fix government, not minimize it.

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Fourth, the billion or so dollars spent on elections in 2008 may seem large but it's about the same as the amount Americans spend yearly on bubble gum (source: Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner ).

Another problem is that the libertarian approach to journalism competing news providers with diverse, partisan biases leaves little room for professionalism and objectivity. In fact, there is an inherent bias in the market. Due to self-interest, the people with power and money will tend to support conservative views: anti-regulation, anti-taxation, and pro-welfare-for-the-rich. So, market-based journalism will always have a rightward and corrupting bias.

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DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See and for my writing, my (more...)

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