Thursday, January 20, 2011
My Onion headline of the day
By Jodi Beznoska
Posted January 20, 2011 - 5:30pm
Federal officials today announced a sweeping economic stimulus plan based entirely on predictive weather models.
"In partnership with television networks and grocery stores throughout the nation, we are pleased to announced this new program, unofficially dubbed "There's No Business like Snow Business," said one economist. "By ensuring that meteorologists predict more snowstorms, especially in Southern and Mid-Southern states, we can virtually guarantee a major increase in spending at your local Walmarts and grocery stores. It's a win-win for the nation, especially when you factor in that kids love snow days as much as teachers do."
As part of the program, meteorologists and television producers will receive incentives to predict more inclement weather. "It's worth noting that it's not just snow storms that will help us pull our economy out of this slump," said a head of a local CBS affiliate. "We'll be receiving tax breaks for predictions of ice, heavy rain and extreme cold. Ice in particular is a great sales driver, but when temperatures are predicted to drop below 35 degrees, our retail partners see a definite increase in sales of down parkas, thermo-insulated overalls, and space heaters."
Not all businesses greeted this news with enthusiasm; many executives have cited dramatic decreases in productivity due to weather predictions. "When snow is predicted, I lose half of my staff the next day, guaranteed, regardless of whether the prediction comes true," said one CEO. "If we did a study about the time lost, I'll bet you it would be worth the cost of a few more snowplows, or better predictive models, at any rate. But hey, I get to wear jeans and a sweater to work, so I'm not really complaining." Parents, too, have expressed reservations, but video game and movie retailers say the increased traffic is welcome.
The ultimate veracity of predictions is not included in the plan, according to officials, who cited a need to let the frenzy play out in a natural and organic way. "We really don't want the actual weather events to interfere with this system," said the economist. "The success of this program is based entirely on the power of viral networking and mob mentality. If we let rational ideas like small accumulations or incorrect predictions make their way into our thinking, we won't see the spending results that this country desperately needs."
Pilot programs in Arkansas and Kentucky have exceeded expectations, as grocery aisles have been stripped of their bread, eggs and Pop Tarts in advance of several snow events in the past few weeks. "It's been super," said one Walmart manager. "We've run out of product before the snow even gets here, so I can send all my staff home to go sledding. All they need is 1/2 an inch and they're good to go!"