Sunday, June 13, 2010

Turkey's Away

This is a rather belated post on the economy and government policy, with a slant that's been on my mind for some time.

The video excerpt is from a famous "WKRP in Cincinnati" episode in which radio station manager, Arthur Carlson, arranged a Thanksgiving Day advertising stunt to have live turkeys dropped from a helicopter.

Ben Bernanke got the monicker "Helicopter Ben" some years before becoming Federal Reserve chairman, in a speech where he referred to Milton Friedman's metaphor of a helicopter dropping money on everyone as a way to prevent "deflation" (and by implication, economic collapse), and alluded to the power of the government printing presses to accomplish this end, for which he received a lot of criticism from more sensible people. According to ace reporter Les Nesman,
[Les]  ...What has been described as the greatest Thanksgiving Day event in history.  A lot of happy people out here!  ...and I think I hear something now!  The crowd is moving out into the parking area.   Oh yes, I can see it now!   It's a helicopter!  And it's coming this way!  It's flying something behind it, I can't quite make it out, it's a large banner and it says, uh - Happy... Thaaaaanksss... giving! ... From ... W ... K ... R... P!!  
What a sight, ladies and gentlemen, what a sight.  The copter seems to be circling the parking area now, I guess it's looking for a place to land.  No, something just came out of the back of the helicopter.  It's a dark object, perhaps a skydiver, plummeting to the Earth from only 2000 feet in the air.  There's a second... a third...  There's no parachutes yet.  ...Those can't be skydivers.  I can't tell just yet what they are but -- Oh my God!  They're turkey's!  Oh my God, Johnny, can you get this?  They're crashing into the Earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car!  This is terrible!  Everyone is running around pushing each other!  Oh, my goodness!  Oh, the humanity!  People are running about, the turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement!  The crowd is running for their lives!  I can't stay out here and watch this any longer!  [Turns towards the doorway of the shop of a merchant who told him to get lost.]  Oh, I can't go in there!  Children are searching for their mothers!  Not since the Hindenberg tragedy has there been anything like this!  I don't know how much longer I can hold my position here, Johnny, I... [cuts out]
[D.J. "Johnny Fever" at the station]  For those of you who have just tuned in, the Pinedale Shopping Mall has just been bombed with live turkeys.

WKRP Turkey Drop from Mitch Cohen on Vimeo.


I think the metaphor is perfect. With real unemployment (not the bogus government statistics) hovering somewhere near 20% or more, Helicopter Ben and all the other whirlybirds in D.C. are beginning to see how well that idea is flying.

(If you want to see the entire episode, go to )

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