FOR some reason this morning, after the standard subjecting myself to the local inane weather blithering, I switched over to CNN. Readers over fifty may remember CNN, which stood for Considered a News Network (it's now just CNN, like Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC when they stopped using real chickens), and be surprised to learn it survived into the holographic news era. I know I was.
The program was American Morning, one of several programs sprinkled throughout the airwaves which began because some producer thought he had a chance with Paula Zahn. And which continues because Dead Air is apparently not an option.
The show is currently hosted by two teleprompter-readers with hairdos and a Frank DeCaro impersonator. They were discussing the impending demise of the US Postal Service. Ad lib.
Now let's reiterate: if it weren't for Barbara Walters, and Roone Arledge, the worst thing that ever happened to "Journalism" would be the debut, in 1975, of ABC's Good Morning America, which not only appropriated a perfectly good Steve Goodman song in that special way only tone-deaf Republicans can (see Reagan, Ronald Wilson, "the words of New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen"), but completed the Nixonization of its news division a full year after his resignation and full pre-pardon. (This, by the way, before it turned over control of its newscasts to a sports producer.) GMA, as it is known to people who need to talk about it but don't have much time, eventually connected with its intended audience: people who enjoyed inane chit-chat, but were made uncomfortable when it came from people who gave the impression of having read something other than magazines at some point.
No such problem here, of course. The general attitude at American Morning was "Who needs the Postal Service when there's email?" This was not intended as a rhetorical flourish. It was evidence of real puzzlement.
But the segment closer was the real treat; one of the hairdos had gotten "pensions guaranteed for seventy-five years" stuck in her head, and kept repeating it so it would sink in and the rest of us could share in the outrage. The other pointed to "no-layoff clauses in some of these union contracts." As though an employer ought to be able to abrogate a contract if he discovers later he's losing money on the deal. I'm not sure how many union contracts she imagines postal workers have. Maybe one for each location.
Look on my works, ye Mighty! Two extremely well-compensated union-represented contract employees whose job it is to read the news gave this no more thought than they would the details of some boring policy debate. Like most questions this one can be solved by applying playground math and the homespun wit of Michele Bachmann. Simple working peons shouldn't have guaranteed pensions! Mailmen shouldn't be allowed to trade dedication to a job for a guarantee it will be there next week!
Good Lord, times are tough! Don't the little people realize this?