Thursday, January 21, 2010

the way that things out to be

In a perfect world, schools would have all the money they need, the Air Force would have to hold a bake sale in order to buy a bomber, and chubby ultra-conservative talk show hosts wouldn’t get paid huge sums of money for making outrageous statements on the air.

As we all know, though, this ain’t a perfect world.

In 2010, the California school system will attempt to plug its $700 million deficit by laying off 9000 staff members and teachers, and Chicago is hoping to use federal money to help close its projected deficit of $475,000,000.

The first flight of the B-2 (stealth) bomber was on July 17, 1989. Although the Air Force initially planned to buy 132 bombers, the program became so costly that only 21 were actually purchased. The total program cost, which includes development, engineering and testing, averaged US$2.1 billion per aircraft (in 1997 dollars). No matter how you slice it, it would take an awful lot of cookies to buy even ONE of these things.

Rush Hudson Limbaugh III first started working at radio stations when he was 16 years old. Although he was fired in Pittsburgh in late 1974, when he was reportedly told by management that he would never make it as on air talent, and should consider going into sales, he continued to pursue positions in radio.

As of 2006, Arbitron ratings indicated that The Rush Limbaugh Show had a minimum weekly audience of 13.5 million listeners, making it the largest radio talk show audience in the United States.

According to a 2001 article in U.S. News & World Report, Limbaugh had an eight-year contract, at the rate of $31.25 million a year. In 2007, Limbaugh earned $33 million. On July 2, 2008, Matt Drudge reported that Limbaugh signed a contract extension through 2016 that is worth over $400 million, breaking records for any broadcast.

I discovered the other day that the man who “has talent on loan from God” was born on January 12, 1951, so the least I can do is wish the old windbag a happy birthday. Interesting enough, Howard Stern (the other “bad boy of radio” was born exactly three years later, on January 12, 1954. Being controversial has also been highly profitable for the man who has been fined the most times by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). When he signed a five year contract with Sirius in 2004, it was for $500,000,000, which means that the curly headed “shock jock” from New York makes at least twice as much as our friend from Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

In colonial America, people could be put to death simply for disagreeing with their minister. As a result, our Founding Fathers made sure that freedom of speech (as well as freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly) was part of the new country’s program from day one.

I don’t listen to Limbaugh, simply because all that misinformation makes my head hurt. Truth be told, though, Rush DOES represent the way things ought to be around the world.

In parts of Afghanistan today, people are being killed because they allow their daughters to attend school

Last summer’s riots in Iran are recent reminders that freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly, are simply not available to large numbers of people around the globe.

Even this week, Google and the Chinese government are embroiled in some animated discussions about censorship on the internet.

Freedom of speech isn’t always a pretty picture.

From 1910 through the 1960’s, Bughouse Square in Chicago was the most celebrated outdoor free-speech center in the nation, and a popular Chicago attraction.

In the early 1960’s, comedian Lenny Bruce started to push the boundaries of free speech as a stand up comedian

In 1963, a young preacher named Martin Luther King gave a speech in Washington, D.C., and set the stage for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 less than a year later.

In the mid-1960’s, the center of free speech activity shifted to the west, and Ground Zero for the Free Speech Movement was in Berkely.

In 1972, George Carlin was arrested in Milwaukee for performing “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television". If you're interested, you can still watch in on YouTube.

It wasn’t long after that that talk radio started to blossom.

Strangely enough, Rush Limbaugh’s enormous financial success is actually due to the actions of former President Ronald Reagen.

In 1984, Limbaugh returned to radio as a talk show host at KFBK in Sacramento, California, where he replaced Morton Downey, Jr. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine—which had required that stations provide free air time for responses to any controversial opinions that were broadcast—by the FCC in 1987 meant stations could broadcast editorial commentary without having to present opposing views. Daniel Henninger wrote, in a Wall Street Journal editorial, "Ronald Reagan tore down this wall (the Fairness Doctrine) in 1987 ... and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination."

Rush is going to continue to generate a lot of publicity, so my lack of interest in his broadcasts isn’t going to hurt him very much. There are 136 references about him on Wikipedia, and 17 on, and he gets press in a number of other places as well.

Limbaugh flunked out of college after two semesters, and his views on how things ought to be are a lot different than mine, but he’s proof positive that anything is possible in America, and for that, all of us should be thankful.

No comments:

Post a Comment