The loneliness of the long-distance pundit

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Consequential threatsOf course you never saw this. The public’s short attention span dooms any program that just looks at the long-term consequences of today’s news events.

I can hear it now. “This evening our correspondent is standing by in Texas with today’s aquifer level readings. We have a special report on this month’s health insurance rate increases. Our panel discusses the latest international math scores. And there’s breaking news about new adjustments to Saudi oil reserves. Stay with us for all this and more.”

But if some day Americans’ attention span lengthens enough to support a nightly news program on really important but slow, nuanced, and controversial trends, what stories should they follow?

Thomas Friedman might nominate America’s looming military costs in the Middle East. “This fire [civil war in Syria] will rage on and spread, as the acid from the Shiite-Sunni conflict eats away at the bonds holding the Middle East together and standing between this region and chaos.”

Ron Paul would point to the prospects of inflation. “The Federal Reserve is printing money like crazy. The day we have to dread is the day the world loses confidence in the dollar, because that’s when prices will soar, interest rates will go up, and we will be forced into devising another monetary system.”

Professor John Steinbruner of the National Research Council, chartered by Congress, says the effects of climate events in other nations are particularly important from a US national-security perspective. “This is looking to me like very big trouble. Very, very big trouble.”

 What other boring trends should TV news emphasize long before they hit your wallet and well-being?
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