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Why Isn’t Radio Marti Shut Down During the Shutdown?

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I don’t get it. If President Trump’s “shutdown” of the federal government is supposed to shut down the “nonessential” functions of the federal government, then why is Radio Marti, the federal government’s Cold War-era propaganda radio station, still broadcasting? When it comes to nonessential federal programs, Radio Marti has to rank near the top of the list.

How do I know that Radio Marti continues to operate during the shutdown? Because I subscribe to Sirius-XM.  As I pointed out in my September 2018 Future of Freedom article “U.S. Anti-Communist Propaganda at Sirius-XM,” Radio Marti uses Channel 153 on Sirius XM to broadcast its official anti-communist propaganda. During the past three weeks of Trump’s shutdown, Radio Marti has continued propagandizing listeners of Channel 153 on SiriusXM.

The larger question, of course, is why Radio Marti wasn’t shut down permanently a long time ago. Established during the conservative reign of President Ronald Reagan in 1983, the mission of Radio Marti has always been to meddle in the internal affairs of Cuba by targeting the Cuban people with pro-U.S., anti-communist propaganda. Even though the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to own and operate a propaganda radio station, U.S. officials felt that the Cold War they were waging against the communist world justified violating the Constitution.

Needless to say, Radio Marti’s propaganda has had the same effect on the Cuban communist regime as the decades-old U.S. economic embargo has had, which is none. One reason for that is that the communist government has always done its best to block Radio Marti’s broadcasts and also made it a criminal offense for Cubans to listen to it.

But one thing is certain: the Cold War ostensibly ended in 1989. Therefore, why wasn’t Radio Marti shut down 30 years ago?

Equally important, if not more so, why is Radio Marti broadcasting its propaganda on Sirius XM, a privately owned U.S. company whose customer base consists primarily of American citizens? I thought that the position of the United States has always been that it’s wrong for governments to propagandize their own citizens? Didn’t U.S. officials rail against the Nazi regime’s use of propaganda to mold the minds of the German people? Don’t they also rail against the Cuban communist regime’s use of propaganda to mold the minds of the Cuban people?

Then why in the world is the U.S. government using Radio Marti to propagandize the American listeners of SiriusXM? And why is SiriusXM permitting Radio Marti to use SiriusXM to broadcast its propaganda?

Here’s another problem, at least from the standpoint of the First Amendment. Every Sunday morning at 7 a.m., Radio Marti broadcasts a Catholic mass on SiriusXM. What business does the federal government have targeting people with religious propaganda, whether its target is Cuban citizens or American citizens? Why should American taxpayers, many whom aren’t even Catholic, be forced to underwrite that sort of religious propaganda? What business does a private company like SiriusXM have in participating in such a scheme?

Let’s also keep in mind that Radio Marti is a government-run and government-operated radio station. Why should the U.S. government be owning and operating a socialist radio station, especially given that its purpose is to oppose the socialist system in Cuba? Wouldn’t it be better to oppose socialism with freedom and private property rather than with socialism?

Finally, let’s keep in mind that the federal government continues to spend far more than it receives in taxes and that it has now accumulated more than $22 trillion in debt, which the American people, as taxpayers, are responsible for paying. If Trump and the members of Congress are unwilling to shut down an anachronistic socialist program like Radio Marti, then what hope is there for reining in the federal government’s out-of-control spending and debt before it sends the nation into bankruptcy.

The time has come to shut down Radio Marti, not just during Trump’s shutdown but forever.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.