If ever a Fox News segment proved how elitist those “we like America” Fox Newsies are, it was this segment from Forbes on Fox on Saturday, October 22, 2011. Host David Asman purported to frame it as a discussion about the Postal Service’s financial problems, especially with regard to the unions. But that was really a thinly-disguised excuse to talk up privatization. Asman slyly maneuvered the conversation that way by going immediately after his introduction to panelist Dennis Kneale with the enthusiastic “question:” “Dennis, you say, ‘Shut down the whole post office before taxpayers get stuck with another bailout!’”
“It already may be too late,” Kneale said. While he spoke, a banner on the screen read, “CALLS TO SHUT DOWN POST OFFICE AS UNION FIGHTS JOB CUTS.” Who, besides this panel, are the calls coming from? Nobody said.
Kneale continued, “The Post Office has lost $20 billion in the last 4 years. Those losses are getting bigger… It stopped paying $800 million a year into its own retirement fund for employees, and it owes $5.5 billion into that retirement fund within a few months… This is a service that specializes - its business is down 20% - in delivering the junk mail from companies that we throw out at really cheap rates… Spin it off. FedEx and UPS will bid to buy it and chop it up.”
Panelist Victoria Barret offered the “balance” of arguing against privatization – but she was on board the anti-union bandwagon. She said, “You can’t just junk the post office. There’s incredible value in what the Post Office has. It’s an immense distribution system. That’s worth a lot… I like sending Christmas cards, Dennis, you get one every year… The union contracts are a problem. You need to rip them up. That’s true.”
David Asman had a “solution.” “Steve, you can send Christmas cards for free on the Internet now. The internet changes everything.”
Barret objected, “It’s not the same.”
Steve Forbes, predictably, argued for privatization “so it does compete. Remove the monopoly on first class mail and the like, let it be like any other company.”
Reporter Kym McNicholas said, “No. I don’t think that’s the answer.” She laid the problem at Congress. “The Inspector General issued a report in July that said that Congress has overcharged the United States Postal Service to the tune of $75 billion for retirement benefits. Why not make them pay it back? It’ll solve the whole problem.”
Wait a minute! That’s a potential solution! Why didn’t host Asman bring this up in the introduction? Why didn’t it come up until the middle of the segment? And why didn’t this solution get any serious consideration?
Instead, the gang scoffed about Congress and then continued on their privatization jag.
Panlist Mike Ozanian said, “The Post Office desperately needs to be privatized.”
Asman did point out that privatization was likely not to cover rural areas.
Forbes said dismissively, “Business will figure out how to do it.” Sure it will and the heck with what kind of service rural areas get and at what price! As “proof” that it will all work out just peachy (at least for billionaire Forbes), he added, “Everyone has a cell phone now no matter where they are in the world. Twenty years ago, they cost $4000. Today they’re cheap. “ Yes, and if people can’t afford to buy bread, they can always eat cell phones!
Kneale interrupted to offer his “thoughts” on behalf of rural Americans: “And you can always MOVE! If you’re in a rural area that doesn’t get postal service and it’s important to you, MOVE! I’m sick and tired of spending money to reach out and (unintelligible).
Memo To Kneale: If you don’t care enough to make sure your fellow Americans in rural areas get affordable, timely and reliable delivery, maybe you should consider moving to another country.