Find the fallacy


#21

What examples of metonymy are you referring to?


#22

The poor, the rich, Popobaw4u (that isn’t you, that’s just your name, in some contexts at this particular time, with this group of people).


#23

It seems to be a bit of a grey area, if I understand it correctly. It is publicly funded, but also privately funded and not just screened by CTW any more. Cory’s claim that:

“if watching the shows 9 months early had no value, HBO wouldn’t be paying for it. HBO execs believe that watching Sesame Street episodes nine months early is worth something, which means, of course, that watching it nine months later is worth less.”

also seems to be a little odd: HBO is paying for it not because the show loses educational value to the public over 9 months, but presumably because delaying access to the plebs allows them to charge richer people money for the same show. Hooray for capitalism! It seems to me that if someone is arguing that public educational shows should continue to be defunded, this would support the idea that they don’t care about poor people. If they support a way for CTW to increase their revenue and therefore provide more educational programs to everyone than they would be able to with their existing funding, this seems quite different to me - CTW is just dealing with the reality of limited resources. It does seem like this kind of strategy would have long term effects on the quality and availability of public programs though, so I do agree with your main argument.


#24

Well, my main argument is really that this is sad. Based on what little I know, CTW may have made the right decision and HBO is doing the children of America service. But when we bring it back to that separate but equal doctrine that was raised on the spawning post, suppose a corporation had decided it was time to stop treating black people worse than white people and fixed up the seats at the back of the bus so they were really nice? I’m not going to tell that corporation to fuck off, but I’m still going to tell the society that this situation exists in to fuck off. Anyway, this is getting off topic - that is, on topic for the original post.


#25

Yeah, and that’s a good point. But it’s a bit comforting to realize that for the first time in a few years, Sesame Street isn’t in danger of of going under. It’s bad that as a society we couldn’t fully-fund this institution through public means even when DVDs and Elmo dolls were flying off the shelves. But lip service is all most politicians were willing to give Sesame Street.


#26

Agreed.

False equivalence, sorry. No corporation is treating different groups as “separate but equal”. HBO is purchasing rights to the early screening of the show, which they are entitled to do. They are discriminating on the basis of money, but so is basically anyone who sells anything. Cars, executive coaches and first class carriages of trains also discriminate against poor people. There is no discrimination by race, which would certainly be illegitimate. CTW is making up the missing funding by offering a premium service to HBO, which is also their right, and which allows them to continue running. All children will continue to be able to watch Sesame Street on PBS at the same time and free of charge, so there’s no discrimination by PBS. It may be a good idea for the government to fully fund Sesame Street, but that’s their decision. They’re not giving more of it to some people or denying it to others, so there’s no “separate but equal” doctrine there. I get the fact that as a loved educational program, people feel entitled to having it continue to be freely available reasonably soon after production. However, I don’t think separate but equal comes into this at all. It’s merely lack of funding and the way a company has found a solution to this challenge.


#27

Actually a guided meditation. I didn’t quite mean to literally say that this situation is exactly the one Rosa Parks faced.

The notion of “separate but equal” is a guide to creating a terrible racist environment that robs people of their dignity and suppresses their rights by placing two water fountains 10 feet away from one another, but it seems like a lot of people can’t see how 9 months can be as large a distance as 10 feet.

Of course the reality is that separate but equal was not even close to equal. That black water fountain wasn’t in working order and it wasn’t giving out the same water as the whites only one. Sesame St. included a character whose father is in jail because that’s a reality that many disadvantaged children in America are dealing with. Now that it’s the wealthier children who pay the bills, is that as likely to happen? Will there be no pernicious influence towards catering the show more towards the wealthy and less towards the disadvantaged? Again, just for the sake of profit, not because they genuinely want to discriminate.

Imagine that it was black kids who got to see it 9 months later. Wow, no one would be talking about how it’s okay because 9 months later is basically the same. Instead it’s poorer children, and because it’s poorer children it is a more black and more latino group of children. But because we filtered it through an ability to pay, we get to absolve ourselves of that. We say it is legal. We say it makes sense. We say it’s just corporations pursuing profit and that’s what corporations do - as if it weren’t the government supposedly made of the people who wrote the laws that define what a corporation is in the first place. Everyone is responsible.

I don’t deny this was within the rights of all parties - the rights given by a state that doesn’t care about poor people. There are tons of capitalist countries on the planet - even most of those “socialist” countries. In a capitalist country you can own things, prevent others from using the things you own and sell those things to a willing buyer for any price you mutually agree on. You can choose your own employment, you can start your own business, and you are free to pursue profit. America turns “capitalism” into a mirror of “racism” and “sexism” - discrimination based on how much capital you have.

American food stamps are subsidies to some of the wealthiest companies in the world that are able to pay their employees below subsistence wages. American publicly funded health care costs the country more per capita than Canadian publicly funded health care, despite the fact that America only gives a small fraction of its citizens publicly funded care - where is all that money going? Profits for private hospitals.

The sesame street thing is pretty minor in the real effects it will have on children, I think. It is powerfully symbolic of a nation that never does anything without first determining how it will funnel money into the hands of the already wealthy. It’s very easy to rationalize in a system that is designed top to bottom to rationalize decisions like this one.


#28

Fair enough, but my point is that Sesame Street, great though it is, is not like a school, bus, water, health care, wages or any of the other analogies - degree is important here as this is not the 60s and there are a number of other educational options out there. Likewise, giving a premium early offer to rich people people who pay for a service is not the same as creating a racist two-tier system. This is more like first and second class carriages - everyone gets the same essential service, but for some it’s earlier/more convenient. The tragedy seems to be that programs like this aren’t fully funded, and I’m sure that’s what CTW would have preferred. In the absence of that, the choice is not between Sesame Street for everyone or a two-tier service, it seems to have been between the probable disappearance of Sesame Street and some kind of private funding. Given that fact, I think it worked out well enough.

I have nothing against the companies themselves as there’s really no evidence that this was a cynical attempt to squeeze more profit out of a show that was actually in decline. It’s not a service whose value depends on time and making Sesame Street a special case without attacking the whole model of paid TV doesn’t seem to work. The public aren’t paying enough to support it. It’s reasonable for HBO and CTW to find a way to keep it going, especially if the original aims of a fully funded program that is available to everyone are largely maintained.

While it’s true that the program may well change to suit a different audience, it had to change whatever happened. What do you think the companies should have done, considering that CTW isn’t going to get paid more from the government, they need money to produce the show and HBO needs some kind of ROI in exchange for their funding?

I agree - paying for it with taxes and making sure that companies like HBO pay appropriate taxes rather than expecting them to bail public shows out out of the goodness of their hearts would be ideal.


#29


#30

You keep coming back to this point that it made sense. I don’t doubt that it made sense, and I don’t assume any negative motive on the part of CTW or HBO. They exist in a deeply unjust society and, as individual actors, find that it is rational to maintain that injustice. That’s how injustice works.

You’re right that this isn’t really about rich people - it’s about people who don’t live in dire poverty vs. people who do live in dire poverty. It’s people with food security issues that this disadvantages. It’s people who are already living in something that looks more like a third world country than like the America we see on TV. Like I say, this is more symbolic than actually the problem, because if you can’t pay the electricity bills then television programs aren’t going to help. There millions of people living in abject poverty in America, and those are the people that educational television was supposed to help. There is a two-tier system in America, and it is racist, and this is a blow against those people who are already being discriminated against by this system with crumbling schools, bad buses if any, unsafe water, and wages that can’t possibly make up for those deficits. That is America.

To quote Twisted Sister, “If that’s your best, your best won’t do.” That’s what I can’t stand about all of this talk of it being the best that could have happened under the circumstances. If this is the best that can happen under the circumstances, then where is the revolution?


#31

I’d add that a dimension of the story is about Rich People™. Many observers are seeing this as a strategic acquisition for HBO in their walled-garden fight with Amazon and Netflix.

I get some real heartburn at the thought that a public treasure, created and nurtured by fedaral and philanthropic funding, is now just another “brand” taken from the public in order to give HBO a competitive advantage. Not only do the people in dire poverty lose, but I also see this as a way for HBO to siphon more money out of the middle class and into the pockets of their shareholders.


#32

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