Occupy Sesame Street

If the Occupy crowd is really against corporations and corporate greed then they should look no further than Sesame Workshop, a corporation filed under section 501 (c) 3 of the IRS code where the average salary of the twenty-one highest paid executives is north of $400,000 and the top dog brings in nearly $1,000,000.

For the record, I am not against highly paid executives except when said corporation receives government grants and subsidies, AKA money taken by force from taxpayers or borrowed from China at interest.

Mitt Romney had it right in last week’s debate when he suggested to Jim Lehrer, “I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

Liberals howled at the suggestion that Mitt Romney and the evil Republicans would dare kill Sesame Street. They decry corporate greed except when it comes to their sacred cows like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), National Public Radio (NPR) and Sesame Workshop. In reality, Sesame Workshop could do just fine without government largesse.

A quick search of the most recent Sesame Workshop IRS Form 990 (2010) will reveal that Big Bird and his buddies have a pretty nice balance sheet. Does a corporation really need government subsidies when it owns a reported $30,024,016 in securities? These securities include: $5.6M in “Hedge Funds”, $14.7M in “Fund of Funds”, and $9.7M in “Private Equity”.

The total number of individuals at Sesame Workshop receiving compensation over $100,000 in 2010 was one hundred and forty-two and the average pay of the top twenty-one was $403,767. Gary Knell, Chief Executive Officer earned $988,456 of total compensation in 2010. Not making the list were Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie or Oscar the Grouch.

In 2010, Sesame Workshop reported revenues of $133,042,300 and paid out $64,453,033 in salaries, other compensation, and benefits. Of the reported income, $46,930,656 was from royalty income. Big Bird, Ernie and Bert, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch and the gang really need your tax dollars to help get them through these tough times.

The Corporation of Public Broadcasting, another 501 (c) 3 Corporation and Liberal favorite, took in $459,877,360 in 2010 according to their Form 990. It wasn’t so generous to its employees paying its top executive, Patricia de Stacy Harrison, a paltry $361,895. Perhaps she should move to a better neighborhood like one located on Sesame Street.

Of the near $460M in 2010 revenue to CPB, all but $11M was from government grants, otherwise known as taxpayer dollars after being filtered through the federal bureaucracy and money borrowed from China. This amount goes well beyond subsidy and should be considered full-blown underwriting. Maybe when they air the next show that nobody watches they could recognize the U.S. taxpayer and China as major underwriters.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting also ostensibly has need of owning large sums of “publicly traded securities”. Their balance sheet listed $83,701,376 plus another $25,104,805 of “other securities” which is later listed as “Promissory Note-Goldman Sachs”.

NPR’s 990 reveals much of the same with its top executive earning just shy of $600K in 2010 and investing tens of millions in private securities as well as having a healthy balance sheet.

There is a plethora of children’s shows and educational programming that somehow make it on their own in the free market and yet we the people continue to subsidize Big Bird and his gang of lefties. Name a program on PBS or NPR worth watching or listening to that doesn’t have a similar counterpart in the free market that is as good or better.

Liberals will argue that in the grand scheme of the Federal Budget, cutting subsidies to CPB, NPR, and Big Bird doesn’t amount to much, but it’s a start. To counter their arguments that the Right has its sacred cows, I will state for the record that I cannot think of one government subsidy that shouldn’t end.

Mitt Romney was right. Why should any business or industry that does not produce improved safety or security for our nation deserve money taken by force from taxpayers or borrowed at interest from China?

Uncle Sam is broke. If Liberals like these programs so much then they can get out their checkbooks and pay for them out of their own pocket.

Image:courtesy of Elaine Sanchez; public domain

Steve Sheldon

About the author, Steve Sheldon: Steve Sheldon is a lifelong outdoorsman, hunter, gun-rights enthusiast and widely published author. Steve spent a dozen years in private industry as an investment broker and owner of multiple businesses. He served the National Rifle Association almost ten years in various capacities before moving to Americans for Prosperity in his current role of External Affairs Officer. Steve has held various church leadership roles over the years and served in a jail ministry. View all articles by Steve Sheldon

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