The accountable marmot
Whenever the expression, “Unless you’ve been living under a rock,” comes up, I realize that, in someone’s estimation, I am a marmot to be pummeled with a gratuitous information payload.
Yup, I missed it, whatever it was. Never heard of him, whoever he is. It’s been years since I’ve heard of anyone in the Oscars line-up, known who was playing in the Super Bowl, or could name a single Olympic medalist in an Olympic year. And no, I had no idea a dual national French-Columbian woman ran for President of Columbia and was kidnapped, until she was rescued amidst a fervent media frenzy that seemed rather well prepared for the fantastic surprise event.
Being a metaphorical marmot has its advantages. For one thing, marmots have a ready excuse for not knowing things people want very much to tell them anyway: after all, they live under a rock. They weren’t there. They were wholly preoccupied with all the strange dealings under their rock.
But marmots surface frequently; they see things happening up on top, and they are capable of sounding a shrill alarm.
Marmots are small creatures. Who listens to a marmot who knows the mortgage crisis is going to shake down every sector of the economy, so that only a super-charismatic expialidocious candidate can revive the masses of stunned people leveled by the shocking revelation that their actions have consequences?
Pretty much only the marmots were saying that the law of supply and demand wasn’t going to be suspended just because the commodity happened to be oil. And only the squeaky little critters were chattering about how the gov might even reinstitute Nixonian price controls.
Of this feature of the Nixonian era, not generally regarded as our nation’s finest hour, Drs. Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, in a nugget a marmot would find significant, write:
“Only one segment of the wage-and-price control system was not abolished — price controls over oil and natural gas. Owing in part to the deep and dark suspicions about conspiracy and monopoly in the energy sector, they were maintained for another several years. But Washington’s effort to run the energy market was a lasting lesson in the perversities that can ensue when government takes over the marketplace. There were at least 32 different prices of natural gas, a rather standard commodity, each of whose molecules is based on one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen. The oil-price-control system established several tiers of oil prices. The prices for domestic production were also held down, in effect forcing domestic producers to subsidize imported oil and providing additional incentives to import oil into the United States. The whole enterprise was an elaborate and confusing system of price controls, entitlements, and allocations.” (Cite)
Now we hear blather from some high rocks in the land about keeping the price of gas up. Neo-cons and liberals are both pushing the idea. Why? Because it would keep the dollar weak. Is that good? If you’re an exporter, it is. If you’re an importer, or a consumer, it’s inflationary. So really why? To advance alternative energy research, to blanket America with Green ideology. It’s a kinder, gentler insanity; it impoverishes everyone gradually. It drives social engineering. It acculturates the citizenry to behave as the State wishes it to behave, and it’s all so very much for the very good of all concerned, even if they are unconcerned, which of course, no one is.
The missing conceptual link is the cost to oil companies–higher taxes, more regulation–that can only be passed on to consumers.
Can you wait for the genius of wage controls?
Marmots whistled about how long wars really took, too. We won’t go there; the rocks are much too slippery.
Marmots don’t see everything, though. Watching a lithe, 20-year-old Alex Rodriguez play ball with the Tacoma Rainiers in Cheney Stadium, I sure never thought he’d hit it off with Madonna. Never even entered my mind. I don’t know why; I’d heard, after all, of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. I mean, I haven’t been living under a rock.