NPR goes fishing
21 April, 2011
NPR goes fishing

Congress of the United States of America has had to cut billions of dollars from the budget deficit. One of the avenues of budget cutting on the table was NPR, National Public Broadcasting. The bill proposed by House Republicans would have stripped NPR of $90 million annual funding.  This is not to say that NPR would seize to exist, there are after all private donations from listeners, but the quality of work would suffer. Without NPR the listeners would be stuck

with bad 90s music, religious programs and Rush Limbaugh. Thankfully the Senate opposed the bill.
One of the reasons NPR is invaluable to American public, is that the stories they produce are not only about Washington politics and breaking news, but about ordinary citizens as well. NPR often produces stories that reach daily lives of communities, no matter how small or how bizarre.
Take for example the recent story on MarketPlace, NPR. The story was called ‘Rooster feathers prized by fisherman and now popular in the hair salons.’ If you have been watching American Idol, (I confess, I caught a glimpse), then you have seen American Idol Judge Steven Tyler of Aerosmith wild hairdo filled with all different color feathers. The feathered hair is all the rage in Hollywood; from very young like Miley Cyrus to decrepit like aforementioned Steven Tyler, all are weaving feathers into their hair. The trend has become so popular that the fishermen have been left without any feathers. The shortage problem is caused by the fact that seven out of ten feathers come from one farm in Colorado called Whiting Farms. Tom Whiting of Whiting Farms says that one third of his product now goes to the fashion industry, but he refuses to raise his prices as many others would, because he understands that hairdos are a fad and one day will seize to exist, so he has to stick with his core customers who are still fishermen. The story ended by asking a question of who will the feathers be for in the future, fisherman or their daughters?
This was a short story, a seemingly unimportant fluff piece, but the way MarketPlace presented it sounded more like a well researched documentation on the state of economy in the US.  Take fishing, one of the main industries in the US.  Over 80% of the seafood eaten in the U.S. was imported in 2004 (the most recent numbers available), much of it from shrimp farms in Thailand, Vietnam, and China and salmon farms in Norway and Chile. This makes fishing industry in the US if not obsolete then at a very precautious stage. The hair salons on the other hand, have been doing very well. Apparently even in recession people will spend $25.00 on a few feathers woven into their hair. Pocahontas would have been proud.
I visited a friend’s salon to see if the feather story was as huge in the fashion industry as NPR suggested. While talking to my friend and looking at her selection of feather, her client, a foreigner getting his haircut expressed his sentiment that US has worked long and hard (229 years is not that long) and it is time to take a break. Let someone else do the fishing, and spend some much needed time off. 
Why there is such distaste for physical work and working class in Europeans I have no idea. Maybe they got this idea from Americans. Watching celebrity shows and reality hair salon fight offs, (by the way, the television shows are one export the US is still leading in) one might think that US is all about getting feathers in the hair, and not in the metaphorical cap. There is more to the US than this. There are hardworking people, the ever so slightly diminishing working class. Perhaps during the heated budget negotiations the Congress could have come up with ways to cut spending without cutting jobs, and better yet creating more jobs for those Americans who want to work, because at this rate, there’s going to be more hairdressers per capita than there are heads to comb.

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