End of year pathos and stupidity

It’s the end of another crazy year and there are a couple of stories floating around the wire that show how crazy it is.

The first two, combined, are just silly. The third makes me sad, mostly becasue the first two are the big reason why the third is going on.

BIG GAS — This story (click) says that American car buyers are, once again, going for larger gasoline-hungry cars.

Don’t we ever learn? The price of gasoline is $3 a gallon now, and as the economy improves and world demand increases, that will only rise because, even if we were drilling like crazy in this country, there’s no way we can pump enough in this country to meet the demand. World prices are set world-wide, and world-wide demand is going to be huge.

And yet, people want big cars because, by God, it is their right as Americans to have big cars. Like that idiot Sarah Palin defending her s’mores from an evil federal government, no damn government is going to tell me what to buy!

Which brings us to HIGHER PRICES COMING.

This story (click) says the already high price of gasoline will get to $5 a gallon by 2012.

No, not because Obama won’t let them drill offshore.

No, not because of those weenie environmentalists and their precious polar bears.

Because the rest of the world wants oil to drive its reviving economy and is bidding the price up. Even if they did drill more oil in this country, the oil companies wouldn’t let you buy it cheaper. They’d sell it to you for the world price because — pay attention now — they make more money that way.

Those companies don’t give a rat’s patoot whether you can afford it or not. They’re not grateful that you lobbied to get them the right to drill in ANWAR.  When it comes to money, American oil companies consider patriotism a quaint affectation.

Anyone want to bet that the first people to complain when gasoline hits $5 a gallon are the folks buying gas hogs now? “How were we to know?” they will wail. 

NOW THE PATHOS — We are at war in the Middle East because it is where oil comes from. If we had any brains, we’d cut back on using oil, but the American mind doesn’t work that way. We’re America, we’re entitled. Which is why our army is over there, to defend our access to cheap oil, even if we have to spend $100 billion a year to get it.

Sadly, because we have an all-volunteer Army, nobody in American has any skin in this war game except the soldiers and their families. The rest of us are blissfully free from wartime rationing, wartime taxes, wartime shortages or wartime anything else. The wars barely make the papers.

But the families (click!) of the soldiers – more than a million and counting — are taking a heavy toll, protecting your gasoline. Sadly, because the American consumer defines freedom as having never to worry about where his gasoline comes from, they pay no attention to the suffering of these families while they buy gas hogs that get 18 mpg.

That’s beyond pathos. It ought to be a crime.

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15 Responses to End of year pathos and stupidity

  1. Sylvia says:

    Charlie, I agree with you on many aspects of this rant, but if you’d been reading your own newspaper, you’d know that U.S. gas consumption has gone down for a couple years in a row. Don’t complain about $5/gallon gas–it will get you what you want: more people using public transit, driving less, riding bikes, etc.

  2. Charles Trentelman says:

    You are absolutely right, Sylvia — and please note in the rant that I did note that domestic oil production won’t impact the world price of oil.

    You very correctly imply that the same is true of domestic gasoline consumption, since national consumption has been edging down but the price still rising — we can cut back the amount we spend by buying thriftier vehicles, but the price of oil is not determined in these shores and neither, to a great extent, is the price of gasoline.

    Which is why it is distressing to see people buying ever-more gas hogs and eschewing gas-sipping cars. Do they WANT to pay more for their transportation?

    And I regret any implication that this rant complains about $5 a gallon gasoline — since I’d have to pay it too, I won’t like it, but if it forces more mass transit, less driving, and finally knocks some sense into the American Consumer, it will be worth it.

    Although, if history is any judge, the American Consumer will just complain and cry and go on driving. Remember how outraged everyone was when gasoline hit — the horror — $3?

  3. Americans have come to equate excess with freedom, and anyone who encourages even a modicum of self-control… is obviously out to take away your freedom. We can’t seem to enforce responsibility.

    Have you also noticed… we are so far beyond remembering how to live peacefully as a nation that everything is a “war?” War on drugs, War on Terror, for petesakes even a War on Christmas.

    Now here is the irony: there is concern that, due to the problem of decreased child health and fitness (see: Twinkies, War on), very soon we may not have enough soldiers for national defense. Maybe then we’ll declare a War on War, and find other ways to solve our problems. These behaviors of excess that we hold so dear are self-limiting after all.

  4. Sven says:

    Charles said:

    “But the families (click!) of the soldiers – more than a million and counting — are taking a heavy toll, protecting your gasoline. Sadly, because the American consumer defines freedom as having never to worry about where his gasoline comes from, they pay no attention to the suffering of these families while they buy gas hogs that get 18 mpg.”

    Charles, please tell me you’re kidding? Just to make sure I understand you correctly; you’re saying that Americans who opt to buy larger cars are putting are soldiers at risk? As that great tennis pro used to say: “You cannot be serious!”

    First, it’s none of your business what kind of vehicles people buy! Has it ever occurred to you that many people have large families and the larger vehicles like SUV’s suit their needs best. It’s also proven that they’re much safer than the aluminum cans on wheels. How is it you can sit here and judge people whom you’ve never met, and no nothing of their life circumstances, and make the call that they choose these larger vehicles because their selfish? What arrogance! So I guess we can take a look at what you drive, where you live, what you eat, what type of clothes you wear, and make similar judgments about your greed and selfishness? It was interesting that you conceded to Sylvia that our consumption was edging down. Hmm, so we’re greedy, but we’re using less fuel? It’s fun watching you tap dance.

    Secondly, we could be free from the restrictions on foreign oil if we were able to obtain our own oil by drilling in places like ANWR and offshore drilling in the Gulf. But no; American oil companies are forced to drill in extremely deep waters off of the Gulf to appease the EPA. What makes this abjectly hypocritical is the fact that the Obama Administration is selling drilling leases in the more shallow waters of the Gulf to foreign nations and companies, while forcing American companies to drill in deeper, less viable waters, or putting outright moratoriums on drilling. Thanks to liberal policies, we also haven’t had a new refinery built in over a decade! And once again, like true liberal, you find it necessary to castigate an industry that helps to make our lives better. You call the oil companies greedy? The federal government, who does absolutely nothing in the research, exploration, and drilling for oil; makes about 20 cents off of every gallon of regular gasoline sold (more off of the other blends). The only thing the federal government does–besides snatching their unearned share of the oil company’s profits– is to impose overbearing regulations and other costs and fees on these companies. And you call the oil companies greedy. It’s also interesting that you condemn the oil companies as greedy bastards, not interested in the American consumer, but mentioned nothing of the Cap-n-Trade legislation which will drive up both fuel costs and energy prices, bankrupting coal and other industries! Here’s Obama admitting what his plans would be on this very issue in 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdi4onAQBWQ

    Third, let’s be honest here, you and other liberals could give a rats butt about the troops safety or their families! Remember those funny little things called Wiki leaks? You know, where certain American intelligence information was released and has the potential to put our troops mission and lives in jeopardy? I heard nothing but praise coming from liberals about the release of this information! We heard this same praise from liberals when the NYT’s regularly published articles detailing leaks about American military plans. The Generals were saying this information would hurt the mission and endanger American troops lives; but not a peep from liberals! So do us a favor and spare us the “concern for the troops” BS. You’re simply using them as a tool to bash Americans who drive larger vehicles.

    I have to say, the one part of your rant that did give me a good chuckle, was the fact that Palin drives you people so nuts :) It’s funny watching you guys on the left—who constantly tell us what a joke Palin is—always seem to have to attack her in some way. If Palin really was the joke you say she is, you wouldn’t waste your time attacking her. The way you guys go after her, you’d think she was the GOP presidential nominee :)

    • Sven says:

      Sven said:

      “Secondly, we could be free from the restrictions…”

      Should say: “…free from the ‘dependence’…”

    • Justin Oates says:

      I fail to see the connection between environmental protection and oil companies going out of business… Last time I checked, Exxon was still the number one at the tippy-top of profitable businesses. Also, here we are in the start of 2011 and if we haven’t built new refineries in over a decade as you claim, how is a liberal government -only in power since 2008- the cause? One more thing as well… you’re leaving out… well, the world. Nothing can be of an isolationist mindset anymore. The globe is more interconnected economically than it ever has been and the assumption that corporate trade agreements globally would cease with an increase of American oil is naive to say the least. The assumption that American oil would stay shore-side is also grandiose and naive. At the very least, we would export to our allies in Europe. Why? Because they’ve been paying through the nose for gasoline for decades and would pay more than Americans would -but a bit less than they have been- for the same oil and gas. Don’t oversimplify the issues please.

      In response to your implication of a lack of understanding at seeing the need a large family may have for a large vehicle: calm down. Your response was uncalled for and borderline fanatical. There are situations that larger vehicles are a necessity and I’m sure Mr. Trentelman is incredibly aware of the fact. He’s not wrong however. Go count the gas guzzling trucks in a high school parking lot… or count the number of people who own a pickup truck -not useful for large occupancies- and never do anything more intense than hit a speed-bump with them. Most of all… relax. We understand -really, we do- that you may need an SUV. Not everyone does and a lot of people who want one don’t need one.

      In response to your implication that a liberal doesn’t care about the military families… what?! Please, do inform me on this one… How does removing the soldiers from the threat equate to not caring about the soldiers or their families? How does freeing our dependence on foreign oil equate to not caring about people? Lastly, where were the sources on the supposed praise of the wikileak incident(s)? I am strangely intrigued…

      All in all, take a deep breath. Read in the context that it was written, Mr. Trentelman’s editorial was simply an ‘if you don’t need it, don’t get it’ message, one that many, many Americans -myself included at times- need to take to heart.

  5. Sven… Michelle Obama wants to take away your s’mores… you better run along and check on your stockpile before the feds find out you have one.

    • Sven says:

      Will do!

      You know, you got me to thinking with your advice about my s’mores; that it’s always funny how great liberal policies only apply to the unwashed masses, but not the elites who invent them. Take for instance Michelle Obama’s Child Nutrition Bill. This regulates that schools must have salad bars, limits on fatty/ fried foods, sugar etc. Wonder why Michelle and Barry don’t set an example for the rest of the country? I’ll bet Michelle, Barry and the girls were busy on their Hawaiian vacation stuffing burgers, pizza, and ice cream down their gullets. Doubt me? Take a look at some of the family pictures…they’re always shoveling junk food into their pie holes. With all of her “junk in the trunk” Michelle really doesn’t seem like the best person to be pushing good nutrition. She needs to practice what she preaches.

      Another example of Liberals “for thee, not for me” mentality is the new Obamacare legislation. If it’s so great, why did the Democrats exempt the members of the House and Senate from having to take part in it, but placed fines on other Americans for not purchasing health insurance? Just sayin’.

      OK, at the advice of you and Sarah, I’m off to hide my s’mores!

  6. Now… see, this is what I love about these discussions! If one can’t complain about proposed school lunch improvements, they will complain about the body type of the person who is campaigning for it, and come up with some whimsical fibbery or exaggerment to make it all seem real. I don’t follow the First Family around on vacation, taking snaps of everything they eat… someone who does that (or worries about it) might want to consider getting a life.

    Honestly I couldn’t care less if MO weighed 400 lbs and ate kittens for dinner. Right now, the USDA is offering children foods every day that are not healthy except in extreme moderation. High sodium, high fat, processed carb and sugar, with nothing green and fresh in sight. It should be beyond politics to say that if the government is going to offer and regulate school lunches, they should be nutritious. I think there is something amiss in these protests about improving school lunches… racism? Sexism? Michelle Obama Derangement Syndrome?

    I’m also amazed you passed up the opportunity to ridicule the White House vegetable garden. But I guess mentioning that wouldn’t exactly support your assertions.

    • Sven says:

      Catherine said:

      “Now… see, this is what I love about these discussions! If one can’t complain about proposed school lunch improvements, they will complain about…”

      I couldn’t agree more. The same way you completely ignored the main focus of Charles piece and my salient comments.

      “I think there is something amiss in these protests about improving school lunches… racism? Sexism? Michelle Obama Derangement Syndrome?”

      Now this is a very interesting comment. Let’s take it in a few small pieces shall we.


      Care to tell us how protesting Michelle Obama’s school lunch improvement program (and her lecturing of privately owned restaurants on what they should and should not serve) has even the slightest thing to do with racism? You make the point better than I ever could; the only people who see another person’s skin color or race are Liberals.

      So Catherine, since you found racism in something as silly as those opposing Michelle Obama’s school nutrition program; then you must have seen racism when the Democrats chose a White guy (Steny Hoyer) for the main leadership position in the US House, over the Black guy (James Clyburn)? Can you please point me to your blog posting where you noted the racism of White Liberal Democrats in keeping the Black man down? Or do you only save your criticism of racism for the really serious stuff? You know Liberals have lost the argument when they bring out the race card.


      Care to point me to an article where anybody protesting this bogus nutrition program did it because they were being sexist? Ok, so using your logic, when Charles said: “Like that idiot Sarah Palin…” he was being sexist…right? If you can see sexism in this story, but have no outrage about the sexist treatment of Sarah Palin…well, I can’t take your claims of sexism even remotely serious.

      Michelle Obama Derangement Syndrome:

      Would this condition have similar symptoms of PDS (Palin Derangement Syndrome)? Some of the most notable symptoms are non-stop personal attacks on her and her children, reporters moving next door to her residence for the purposes of stalking like behavior, and many others? Just as you were most likely silent over the real racism leveled against Congressman Clyburn; you were probably equally silent on the real sexism against Palin and her daughters.

      I’d like to add to your earlier comment if I could: “Now… see, this is what I love about these discussions! If one can’t complain about proposed school lunch improvements, they will complain about [RACISM, SEXISM, and DERANGEMENT SYNDROMES.]” There fixed it!

      “I’m also amazed you passed up the opportunity to ridicule the White House vegetable garden.”

      OK, since you asked: I think her little vegetable garden is a photo op and nothing more. If she does eat these vegetables, it’s for toppings on her hamburgers and pizzas. Sorry if this sounds mean and redundant, but one doesn’t have that much junk in their trunk eating vegetables. Sorry, but her lecturing the rest of the country on good nutrition when she’s carrying extra baggage, and stuffing her face with ice cream, cheese burgers, Kobe Beef, and pizzas is just a bit hypocritical for some of us. Michelle perfectly exemplifies the saying: “For thee, not for me.”

  7. Well I bring up racism or sexism or derangement because… what other reason is there to hate the idea of making the already-government-controlled school lunches more healthful?

    “Sorry if this sounds mean and redundant, but one doesn’t have that much junk in their trunk eating vegetables.”

    Speaking as a formerly obese omnivore and now right chubby vegan (I’ve been vegan for 3 years)… yes it’s mean and redundant, and absolutely false. The goal of healthy eating is not being thin – although most of us stand a better chance of a healthy weight by eating properly. For all the junk in my trunk I don’t have any sign of heart disease, T2 diabetes, or any other treatable medical conditions. All of those run in my family, and I was heading for them too.

    Be all this as it may, I do advocate a healthy lifestyle for children. I am not as active as I should be but I still think letting kids play WoW all day instead of riding bikes and playing outdoors is a bad idea. I still think making our school lunch program healthier is a good idea, and driving fuel-efficient vehicles is a good idea. People who can take good ideas and put them into practice are what makes the so-called “nanny state” unnecessary. The more people demand entitlement to excess fuel consumption and unhealthy children via lazy garbage diets, the more intervention we’ll have. If you don’t want to be regulated, then regulate yourself.

    I guess what we need again are ration stamps… people didn’t scream “Nanny State!” and “Fascism!” during WW2 – they understood the necessity of tightening the collective belt during hard times. What on earth HAS happened to America?

  8. Levi Khristian Florence says:

    People Going Places….People Going Places…
    Go UTA Today-Oh it Never is a Fuss,
    When You Come and Ride the Bus.

    Post Script: Weber/Davis/Box Elder “Face the Musical Score Jingle”
    Charley. Sure Miss Route #12 From the (Marion Apartments).
    As a Fellow Human Services Client would agree:

    A little over a Buck, for a Round-Trip to [Temple] Square….And back,
    Assures One a Great reentry Vehicle; among so many Gentiles
    “Lost in Space”. Lets Aim for the {Mars-Jupiter} Path finders!!!

  9. ctrentelman says:

    sven — if you can show me, mathematically, that drilling in ANWR and the offshore leases will permanently eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, I will agree with you on that point, but I don’t think you can do it.

    It’s incredibly complex, but the bottom line is, the US uses more than 20 percent of world oil production now, imports more than 10 million barrels a day while producing less than half that from national oil fields that are being depleted, and we’re having to compete on the world markets against rising economies in India and China for the oil that remains.

    The fields you talk about cannot produce 10 million barrels a day, and even if they could would be depleted very quickly. They’ll take years to get producing, too, because the oil in them is very deep and very expensive to get at. Full production won’t be reached for about 20 years, according to the things I am reading.

    By the time we get them producing, even if we started today, other oil producing areas around the world will have been depleted and their effect on the world price will be mitigated.

    Saudi Arabia, with 10 times the proven reserves the US has, holds the whip hand on world market oil prices and US oil companies will charge the world price because they’re good capitalists out to make a buck — You don’t really think that oil in Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico is OUR oil, do you? Only if you nationalize the oil companies, you socialist you — and the companies that drill it will sell to the highest bidder. If that bidder is China, well, we must consider the stockholders.

    Because of all this, the US government sees it in the best interests of the economy to keep the oil producing areas of the world protected. If that means putting soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, we do it, because the oil fields of Saudi Arabia need to be protected from strife.

    Now, I’m not telling you what kind of car to buy — if you feel a need for a gas guzzler, go for it — but choices have consequences, and if your choice is to buy a car that uses an inordinate amount of the relatively small amount of oil drilled in this country, then you are forcing this country to import ever more oil from foreign countries, and that increases world demand which increases the world price, which makes Saudi Arabians richer because with 270 billion barrels of proven reserves, they can play world oil prices like a fiddle, and do.

    And guess who some of the biggest financial supporters of the Taliban in Afghanistan are, next to Pakistani intelligence agencies? Our good allies in Peace, the Saudi Arabians.

    But I’m happy to be proven wrong, Sven. Show me your numbers, projected over the next 20 years if possible, and don’t forget China.

  10. Ben Pales says:


    Sven is just quoting what he heard on Fox News. BTW I’m taking Mark Saal’s advice and posting my real name.

    • ctrentelman says:

      Ben, thanks — and here I thought you were a friend of mine named Sylvia — guess I owe her an an explanation.

      if Fox news is telling people that stuff, and people are believing it, God help us all. Little wonder Dick Cheney always insisted on having the TVs in his hotel rooms tuned to Fox.

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