Why do PBS and KNPR receive public funding?

Geoffrey Lawrence

That’s the question raised yesterday by Cato’s David Boaz, who calls PBS “a public menace.” He raises some great points about the television station’s questionable obsolescence:

What, in a world of hundreds of radio and TV channels, is so special about PBS and NPR that they should get $420 million a year of taxpayers’ money?

When I was a boy growing up in western Kentucky, with three TV networks, it was understandable that people thought an “educational” network would add something important. But my brother’s kids in that same little town later had access to hundreds of cable stations.

PBS used to ask, “If not PBS, then who?” The answer now is: HBO, Bravo, Discovery, History, History International, Science, Planet Green, Sundance, Military, C-SPAN 1/2/3 and many more.

Further, Boaz highlights that KNPR listeners are statistically much more affluent than the average American and asks why working- and middle-class taxpayers should be forced to subsidize the news and entertainment preferences of the rich. Good question – but subsidies for KNPR are but one of many regressive wealth transfers effected by federal and state governments. Others include: the Fed’s inflationary policies that transfer real wealth holdings from American households to wealthy Wall Street bankers and the US Treasury, farm subsidies, subsidized universities, renewable energy subsidies and a plethora of other government programs designed to plunder the working and middle classes for the benefit of special interests.

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.