The Joplin Globe’s Dumbest Editorial Of All Time

In what appeared to me to be a prelude to an eventual Romney endorsement, the Joplin Globe praised Romney’s courageous attack on Big Bird and approved of cutting federal funding for public broadcasting, which the editorial admits only costs each American $1.35 per year.  Yes, a buck and some change a year.

As others have pointed out, the government spends about as much at the Pentagon in six hours as it does on public broadcasting for a whole year. Yet, the Joplin Globe, in what can only be considered its dumbest editorial of all time, asks:

Is it really the role of the federal government, which is now running deficits of more than a trillion dollars annually, to subsidize Big Bird?

This editorial did not appear to be a joke, since it was not published on April 1, so I have to take seriously the effort here to bend over backwards for Romney and his pitiful attempt, during his debate with President Obama, to camouflage the real damage his and his running mate’s budget proposals will do to the country, in terms of their effects on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, not to mention the middle class and Big Bird. (The rich will do just fine, however.)

The Globe says Americans need to have “a serious conversation about the proper role and reach of the federal government.” Yeah, we sure do. And a serious conversation doesn’t start with trimming $1.35 a year from each American’s tax bill.

How about starting a serious conversation with the following graph, courtesy of Rachel Maddow and Foreign Policy magazine:

The graph shows the base defense budget since 1950, and it clearly shows the buildups during war time, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Reagan Cold War spending, the so-called War on Terror (Maddow reminds us that the George W. Bush-era numbers don’t reflect the two Bush wars, since they were “off budget” during his time).

The graph also shows that after those periods, defense spending came down dramatically, since there was obviously less of a need for it. But notice the War on Terror spending. The red line shows what the budget would look like if the trend followed the post-Cold War trend in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It would have fallen, quite normally, way below current levels.

Then notice the “fiscal cliff” sequestration cuts, which as draconian as they are advertised by both Democrats and Republicans, still are less than the normal post-wars decline. Then notice the Obama proposed defense spending, which is way over the normal post-wars decline. Then, if you can stomach it, notice the Romney defense spending increases, which go off the chart.

That is what the Joplin Globe ought to want to start a conversation about, not Romney’s cheap attempt to score points with right-wing ideologues, who have always hated public broadcasting, apparently the Joplin Globe now among them.



  1. Jim Hight

     /  October 11, 2012

    You are right–that is a dumb editorial. I would like to see some editorials justifying subsidies to oil companies, returning to supply side economics, as advocated by Romney and Ryan, in spite of the trickle-down being a part of the 2008 Bush economic meltdown, and one supporting the Citizens United ruling since it appears that the Globe will be going for the Romney ticket. While they are at it, how about one supporting Medicare vouchers and privatizing Social Security, as advocated by Ryan’s budget plan and supported by Romney.

    Come on Globe, support these positions in editorials so that your readers will know where the majority of the cuts will come from while the rich become richer with more tax breaks.
    The public has the right to know, unless, of course, your partisan nature keeps the voters in the dark.


    • Jim,

      I think you know that after endorsing Obama in 2008 the Globe probably isn’t in the mood for more subscription cancellations, thus the bend toward Mittens. In the end, my friend, it is all about the bottom line and around here you don’t piss off the patrons!



  2. Treeske

     /  October 11, 2012

    Isn’t the Globe part of Family Values rhetoric or have they lost the meaning of that too?


    • Family Values around these parts means electing candidates like Todd Akin, who will easily beat Claire McCaskill in Southwest Missouri. Believe it or not, in 2008 the Joplin Globe, for the first time in its history, endorsed the Democrat for president. The paper lost subscriptions over that move and I suspect it will not happen again. Either the Globe will endorse Romney or it won’t endorse anyone. No way does Obama get the nod this time. The level of disgust for the President around here, despite the “family values” BS, is off the charts.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  October 11, 2012

    You are all guessing, including St. Rachel and her graph. So am I to a degree as well but not as much as you guys!!!.

    In 2008, before I began writing routinely for the Globe opinion pages, I was in fact a citizen member (one of two) on the Globe editorial board during the 2008 campaign. As such I sat in and actually voted on Globe endorsements, all endorsements for various candidates that year. I observed first hand the long and careful discussion about who to endore for President that year.

    The Globe editorial board, including the editor, Carol and the publisher (a different one now) all voted and the majority prevailed to endorse Obama, democratically. Yes business affects were discussed but utlimately the endorsement was considered the right way to go, democratically by that entire editorial board.

    I also was there for a short while in the aftermath of the endoresement and yes, advertising went down for a while, as expected. But it did not stay there and the Globe and Joplin moved on to other matters.

    I am not in any way involved in what gets printed on Globe opinion pages, now or then. I just submit (not the edit in question if you are wondering) and let others decide, Carol being the priniciple decider but sometimes others play a role as well, like the publisher.

    Having said all of that, I have NO IDEA how the Globe will handle endorsements this year, I have NO IDEA the discussions that go on weekly at the Edit Board meetings, etc. But my guess is the Globe, nor Carol, nor the publisher have made a decision, yet, on endoresements for this seasons campaigns, no decisions whatsoever.

    Is the Globe in fact now “building a case” to sustain a Romney endoresement? No at all in my view as well. The Globe instead is trying hard as an “uncommited voter” (or endorser) to make sense out of the current campaigns. I WOULD be willing to bet a lot that the Globe will NOT endorse Akin however, just as an aside. As for Romney or Obama, who knows right now.

    I have not in any way discussed with Carol, in person, phone or email, which way (or no way) the Globe will “go” in its endoresments this year, and am sure neither have any of you. You can only guess and is such cases your guesses are just Chicago machine spin in here.!!!

    As for Carol’s opinion, you can email her just like i do but I don’t do so very often as she is “sort of busy” right now. I doubt as well that she will consider your opinion very deeply of the dumbest edit ever written, by whom I have no idea and don’t care. She gets more hate mail everyday than all of us combined.

    But as well I think Romney’s test for any program of “should we be borrowing money from the Bank of China” to sustain it is a damn good test to consider!!! THAT, I think, is what the Globe was saying in the edit and I for one agree.



  4. I was taken aback some years ago by a savage anti-PBS/NPR editorial by none other than George Will. I was feeling Libertarian at the time and could understand his motivation in that Randian context: strip the government down to the bare essentials! But that was before I actually started thinking (and blogging) about this stuff. Duane, you’re right about the size of the subsidy being minuscule, but the anonymous conservative who wrote that editorial would seem to be, like George Will was, bent on symbolism more than money. Which is kind of ironic when you think about it because conservatives oppose the President’s plan for eliminating the Bush tax cuts of wealthy Americans because of symbolism, never mind that unlike the PBS attack, that move would actually make a significant dent in the problem.

    I would like to add that I’ve become accustomed in the past year to listening to NPR podcasts on my iPod at the gym 5 times a week, mostly Planet Money, Topics of the Day, It’s All Politics, and Stuff You Should Know. The material is in my opinion of exceptionally high quality. They make a discernible effort to show both sides of topics, including the show on politics wherein they have two guys discussing the week’s events, one of each political persuasion. And it’s all gloriously free of commercials except for brief sponsorships mentioned outside the meat of the programming. The BBC showed this could be done across the pond and PBS/NPR is doing so here – I would sure miss them.


  5. Sedate Me

     /  October 11, 2012

    What kind of guy picks on a naive, young, innocent who is completely unable to defend himself…and is almost certainly contractually obligated to remain silent?

    First he abuses his dog. Now he abuses a bird. They say the surest sign of a dangerous psychopath is that he abuses animals.


  6. I like PBS and NPR and listen to both frequently. To be honest, I think you could make a case for pulling the federal subsidy for public broadcasting though, because:

    1. I think the subsidy is significant, but still far less than a majority of PBS’ funding. The best programs will survive, perhaps through the focus of point 2.
    2. A lot of alternatives for educational programming exist not that didn’t in 1968 such as discovery (though the recent drift in to more and truck drivers and men being men shows may belie this).
    3. I think it may be fair to think that the average beneficiary of public broadcasting has a higher income than the average taxpayer funding it.

    All that said for Romney to turn to PBS as his poster child for fat in the government is absurd both: because if that all he can find, he isn’t going to reduce the size or scope of government; and because I think it was intended to mollify the far right, perhaps as he otherwise was pivoting apparently to the middle otherwise.


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