Sunday, November 20, 2005


What I wanted to get to was the USIA. (United States Information Agency.)

I started off both those last two posts intending to write about them but I got too longwinded and off on tangents.

The USIA gets a budget every year as do all government agencies.

What they don’t spend goes back into the general fund and their budget is decreased by that amount the next year. Therefore, the primary goal of the USIA is to spend their budget.

No matter what their mission statement might say, money rules. A decrease in the budget will mean downsizing. The job you save might be your own.

I realized that when I was in Saigon during the late unpleasantness. The USIA had built a monumental edifice. (Okay, that’s redundant. So sue me.) It was called a library and was meant to improve the opinion of the Vietnamese people about America.

Lots of luck.

How could they be so stupid?

Who the hell would ever go into such an imposing building? The cyclo drivers and farmers whose support we needed? Or the college professors whose minds were already made up?

I’ll give you a clue: Except for the janitors, no one wearing sandals was ever seen inside that white elephant.

Can you say, “Waste of money?”

But I don’t like to criticize without offering a solution.

An obvious one is not to penalize an agency for saving money.

Here is another one: Comic books.

Huge American libraries overseas are a joke. They do not get to the target audience.

The target audience is the people on the street. The great mass of people who would never go into an imposing library in a lifetime.

Comic books are the solution. Only totally inept comic books would not succeed on some level in delivering a message.

Intelligently drawn and written, they could be very effective.

If the USIA is worried about not spending their entire budget, they could hire the best talent, buy the best presses, and develop the best delivery system and overpay everyone

Maybe they could spend it all.

Maybe it would do some good for a change.


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