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Thursday, July 26, 2007

FAR Future: Episode 2

Wow, now I know how Orson Welles must have felt. Let’s continue with the story…

Thursday, July 26, 2012
Ir-ration-al Behavior?

Hearing all the roaring and screaming from the right-wing media, you’d think Congress was vivisecting kittens on national TV instead of debating a gas rationing bill. (Worse, actually… they’d probably enjoy watching the kittens.) This is something they should have done last year, instead of listening to the noisiest of the nay-sayers, but maybe we’ll get some action this time.

What’s painful to watch, but unfortunately not surprising, is that the goobers here on Planet Georgia hang on every word and don’t realize that they’re cheering on people who want to make it harder for them to get gas. I used to think this kind of irrational behavior, supporting a “cause” that was hurting them, was a uniquely Southern thing — their dirt-poor ancestors happily marched off to war to support an economic system that made them poor (plantation owners didn’t have to pay a living wage when they owned slaves) — but either the gene spread into the rest of the populace or the American lower class in general has a propensity toward self-destruction.

I guess I have the same gene — I try to talk some sense into people, knowing it’s futile:

“Nobody’s gonna have enough gas when they start rationing!” is the programmed talking point du jour.

“You can’t get enough gas now,” I remind them. “How is rationing going to make it worse?”

“It’ll be worse because nobody will get enough gas!” (In other words, the talking heads and the upper class that owns them will be the in the same boat as the rest of us, that’s what hasn’t sunk in.) Most stations are already limiting purchases to 5 gallons (10, if they got a full shipment) — which, of course, is barely enough to get the SUV or big pickup to the gas station and back — but people will station-hop: five gallons at Citgo, cross the street and get five more at BP, then over to the Exxon for five more, and the stations run dry anyway. Some of them have been threatening to go to a three-gallon limit, but there have already been death threats over five.

This completely leaves out the question of where they’re getting $120 for gas anyway. They must be turning off what’s left of the electricity, and not buying beer or cigarettes. A lot of these people are acting like they’re going through withdrawal jitters — they get really uptight if someone in front of them isn’t moving fast enough. If someone tries cutting in line, getting under your car is a good idea… I’ve seen weapons come out, and some have seen them used. You’ve probably seen similar stuff — worse maybe, in the cities. At least the cities are expanding bus service.

Sigh. I was never able to argue with irrational people. I’ve never been all that great arguing with rational people, for that matter, but at least with rational folks I can think of some counter-arguments in advance. But mostly, these days, I try to keep quiet and go my own way. Just do my work — with people telecommuting so much now, the company is doing really well so I still have a slim hope of retiring normally — live my life, and let idiots be idiots. Hopefully, they didn’t breed too much.



  1. 5 years from now? I think I've been reading about someone considering rationing now. A governor, maybe?

    Also, I really like the picture of SUVs driving from gas station to gas station buying 5 gallons at a time.

    (do the arguments against rationing gas sound a little like the current arguments against health-care-for-everyone?)

  2. Hey KB. From what I heard, the federal rationing system that was hatched (but never deployed) back in the 70s is still on the books. There were some rumblings about dusting it off in the aftermath of Katrina, and the topic comes up from time to time on certain energy-related blogs. But I hadn't heard about any governors talkng about it recently — although with that flooded-out refinery in Kansas, you guys are really in the soup at the moment.....

  3. Hi FARf, I found the link. It wasn't anyone in authority. Just an idea someone threw out at AlterNet...

  4. Ah, OK. Yeah, I'm not surprised that nobody in a position to do anything is talking about rationing. After all, that above anything else would be the arrow in the heart of our Non-Negotiable Way of Life.

    There are pitfalls to rationing, certainly, but it's probably the most reliable way to reduce demand in the face of uncontrollable supply reductions (which we'll be seeing, quite likely in the next two years let alone five).

  5. This was the whole thrust of the Kansas book, how people have come to support a government that is against their own self interests. It is amazing how shortsighted people can be.

  6. Boran, my personal theory is that it's all driven by fear. Build up whatever boogieman gets 'em shivering: commies (obsolescent), blacks, browns, yellows, gays, Muslims, women with opinions… and the goobers will go along with anything else you want as long as you promise to "protect" them.

  7. Good to see you back at the speculative stuff again, FAR. Or should I say predictive fiction? I just noticed you used the term "goobers" several times in recent posts.. I just love that one. Though we do kind of reserve it for the worst of the redneck clans up here, but yes, let's hope they don't breed (too much). Alas they do, alas.

    Have you ever read C.M. Kornbluth's The Marching Morons? That's one I keep thinking of after all these years, and your writing reminds me of it every so often.

  8. Hey IVG. Around here, the term "goober" is one that can have a variety of meanings (from affectionate to pejorative) depending on context. IIRC, the term was originally slang for peanuts, then got applied to people from AR or GA (because they were often found snacking on goobers), then escaped into more general usage.

    i've never read Marching Morons; I'll have to add that to my list.


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