I know the folks over at Media Mouse, River City's progressive local media critic, are earnest in their endeavors (which is one reason why we provide a link to their website). But the trouble with the leftist take on society is that your Big Idea about how the world is supposed to work trumps the facts instead of letting the facts inform your ideas about what really drives things. If this penchant for rationalism doesn't lead to an out-and-out detachment from reality, it can manifest a certain cluelessness.
For example, this recent Media Mouse notice that Obama has rejected public financing for his presidential campaign:
Last week, Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama announced that he will not be participating in the public financing system for his campaign. Instead, Obama will be able to raise an unlimited amount of money. However, much of the discussion on his decision has missed larger issues--why does it cost so much money to run for president and why do media corporations profit so much from elections?
The larger issue is the very thing that Obama ditched, the public financing system for presidential campaigns. Why is it that the bedrock freedom of political speech is confounded, constrained, and controlled by campaign financing restrictions that leave many a candidate no choice but to run for office on the public dole under the dictates of federal election commissars? Why is it that the so-called progressives who decry entrenched power and extoll the voice of the people are enamored with the bureaucratic bean-counting of the size and frequency of campaign contributions that favors incumbents and the super-rich at the expense of dark horses and ordinary citizens in political races? That is the fundamental issue.
The larger issue certainly is not: "Why does it cost so much money to run for president?" It doesn't. Americans spend a pittance on the publication of campaign speech compared to the advertising dollars that we pour into pushing mundane products like laundry detergent, fast-food burgers, and the latest amazing gadget for only $19.95 plus shipping and handling. For presidential candidates to spend what amounts to at most only a few bucks per voter every four years to get their messages out to the public is hardly a scandal. Indeed, stack that up to what pornographers spend to ply their putrid wares (which so-called progressives are so quick to defend under the free speech banner), and one wonders about the bad wiring in the heads of those who link arms with the flesh peddlars while sanctimoniously denouncing the few dollars spent on getting political speech on the air, on the internet, and in print.
Nor is the larger issue: "Why do media corporations profit so much from elections?" Is this really a head-scratcher for our progressive friends? The answer is obvious. The [shudder] "media corporations" own soapboxes that candidates want to rent to get their message out to the readers, viewers, and listeners of those companies. Meanwhile, all the other businesses and organizations that still need to advertise in the ordinary course of business don't go away. So demand goes up while the supply of space and minutes available for advertising remains about the same. Hence, the price for advertising laundry detergent and campaign slogans goes up. Nothing sinister. Economics 101.
If the leftists think the solution is to force the evil media corporations to hold their prices, just who do you think is going to get the limited supply of advertising available? Those customers of the media corporations placing ads day in and day out, or the fellow that comes along once every four years to get ink or air for a couple of months ahead of the election? Now if those leftist wheels are really turning, no doubt the solution to this is to force media corporations to ration ads to candidates -- and steamroll over the freedom of the press in the process.
All of which is to demonstrate that if our progressive friends put the facts first rather than their pet ideas, they might not wring their hands over things that are a problem only because they do not fit into the tidy world of their Big Idea.