WE CAN count on television to see us through the new recession . . . and right on into the new depression. Has TV ever let us down? Not since the last time we had it on, anyway. What was it saying to us-oh yes, "Buy this, buy that, and if you can't afford the other thing, buy it on credit." TV's going to be great at fighting inflation and discouraging excessive spending.
Actually, in a little alcove off a narrow hallway in a federal office building that even the General Accounting Office doesn't know about, an emergency action plan (EAP) already has been formulated in case the economy takes the great big dive (GBD) predicted. This will be Operation Belt Tighten (OBT) and television will either have to toe the line (TTL) or pay the piper (PTP).
In the public interest we have stolen these rules for the new recession and are printing them here. To get them, we bribed a security guard who was subsequently fired without pension from his job but who has the rare satisfaction of having helped fill up several inches of empty newspaper space.
FIRST, under the new guidelines, ceilings will be put on the amount oil companies can spend on TV commercials telling us what lengths they go to in the search for more oil and what disloyal dumbclucks we are for wasting gasoline on trips to the supermarket and the hospital and that sort of thing.
According to the new rules, oil companies can only spend $1 zillion each on public relations campaigns designed to convince us they are spending all their money on research and innovation. Also, they will not be able to pay for any more imported British shows on public television, so the public television system will disappear overnight.
COMPANIES like IBM and Honeywell that spend large fortunes on Sunday afternoon commercials telling us how technology will make life heaven on earth for us will have to channel all that money into the actual development of such technologies. Sorry-but harsh times call for harsh deterrents.
IN THE interest of cutting down on unnecessary costs, Madison Avenue will only be allowed to introduce one new brand of cat food per week. The cats of America will just have to learn to get along on only 2,000 different choices. By rough estimate, the amount of supermarket shelf space to be saved by this measure is the equivalent of three football fields per 50,000 population. That's people, not cats.
THE MAKERS of Scotch recording tape and Memorex recording tape will be called upon to end their bitter, senseless feud and merge, since one recording tape is pretty much as good as another, unless it comes in a plain brown box with only a skull and crossbones on the outside. In a gesture of harmony and peace, Ella Fitzgerald, Madame Memorex herself, and Ray Charles, Sir Scotch Brand himself, will sing a duet on nationwide TV, OR, AT THE VERY LEAST, THEIR TAPES WILL BE PLAYED SIMULTANEOUSLY ON THE "GOOD MORNING, AMERICA" SHOW.
WHEN THE new recession comes, we're going to have to rough it.Individually wrapped hostess mints will no longer be individually wrapped; the mint company will just have to throw the little buggers into a box like all that other crap. Those airtight cracker bags, so soundly sealed that they can withstand submersion at 20,000 leaques for two years without leaking a drop, will be replaced by plain old waxed paper. People planning to take crackers down to depths greater than 19,999 fathoms for longer than 23 months, 364 days and 23.9 hours will have to make other arrangements.
CEREAL BOXES will no longer be so ironclad that not a hint of air could ever get into them, and aspirin bottles will no longer be so childproof that no human being could ever get into them.
NO NEW varieties, colors, scents, hues, flavors, shapes or sizes of feminine hygiene products may be introduced during the emergency. Also, not more than one new scrumptious yummy toothpaste that doesn't taste like toothpaste so maybe the kids will brush longer can be marketed in any six-week period.
THE CASTS of TV commercials, excluding those for soft drinks and soap pads, shall not exceed 10,000 persons. The number of extras in musical extravaganzas for soft drinks that are taking America by storm, or vice versa, shall be limited to a group not larger than the population of the average entire town.
THE MAKERS of soap pads are encouraged to replace as many dancing people as possible with dancing soap pads. However, there should not be so many dancing soap pads in a single commercial so as to contribute to a nation-wide soap pad shortage. You may have to crack an egg to make mayonnaise, but Kraft's will be ordered not to crack quite so many unless the remains can be salvaged for future use.
AIRLINES who choose to advertise their services on television will no longer be able to indulge in the luxury off sending up empty planes to be photographed against skies of halcyon blue. Actual films of real flights will have to be used, including scenes of stewardesses spilling coffee on discount passengers, knees being broken by faulty tray tables, babies crying until you think you'll go mad, and helpless passengers sitting on runways for two hours while the pilots await permission to take off.
TO BETTER disburse the work force, used car dealers will be discouraged from appearing on television and making tremendous fools of themselves and will be encouraged to stay at their places of business and do what the good Lord intended them to do-sell heaps of junk to poor hapless schlemiels. If this rule is implemented, it is anticipated that at least half the dealers in the United States will leave the used-car trade and go into show business, unless "The Gong Show" is canceled.
SUPERSTARS who command tremendous fees will no longer be permitted to appear in advertisements for products. These include Laurence Olivier, Steve Garvey, Steve Garvey's wife, O.J. Simpson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Glenn Ford, the shah of Iran, Sylvester the Cat and Tweetie Pie. Roy Rogers can continue because his name is on his hamburgers.
THE manufacturers of paper towels and laundry detergents will only be able to "improve" their products three times a year, and products may only be advertised as "new" and "improved" if the maker concedes with a spoken and printed announcement that the old product was in fact not any good at all and had nowhere to go but up.
EXPENSIVE technological processes like microscopy and infrared photography of the human body will have to be reserved for cancer research and can no longer be used to demonstrate the benefits of individually wrapped hostess mints or extraordinarily delicious artificial potatochips.
ALL POTATO CHIPS WILL HAVE TO INCLUDE AMONG THEIR INGREDIENTS ACTUAL POTATOES.
ADS FOR products that are in no demonstrable way essential, nutritious, beneficial or useful to those who purchase them will be banned. This will remove from the air approximately 98 percent of all television commercials, so a new source of revenue for broadcasting will have to be found. To this end, the National Endowment for the Humanities has authorized $1.12 billion for a pilot study to determine funding priorities for a full-scale investigation into the problem. Results will be available the moment the depression ends, so let's see a big smile now, folks!