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Monday, June 09, 2008

FAR Future, Episode 36: Political Storm

Life imitates fiction: people hoarding gas set fire to their apartment.

Saturday, May 3, 2014
Political Storm

The government seems to be embroiled in a perfect storm as May rolls in, and temperatures (atmospheric and political) start rising. Between the thousands of people that didn’t make it through the winter (one estimate said it was close to a million), the electrical grid almost collapsing in February, and the “Rationgate” thing that broke last week (not to mention the fuel ration reduction announced just before), the cons have been having a field day. It’s not like they could get control of Congress or anything in November, but they could end up causing a lot of mischief.

It was heartening, though, to hear the Speaker not taking any crap. “The gentleman from Texas ‘deplores the loss of life over the winter’ and wants to lay the blame at the feet of the President and the Congressional leadership,” she said. “But I find that ironic, coming from a primary co-sponsor of a bill to defund heating assistance — if he and his party had their way, those thousands could have been millions. And he would have sanctimoniously blamed the victims for not saving enough to buy heating fuel or a house in the tropics.”

I’m not going to complain about the ration cut — the 8.5 gallons per week we get now is more than most other people got before, and we don’t use it all anyway — but it sure has caused some turmoil on the exchange. Like so many former OPEC countries, ration “exporters” suddenly became “importers.” It was almost embarrassing, what we got for two lousy gallons of stale rations yesterday. I hope things work themselves out pretty soon, or I might sell locally on the private exchange from now on.

The Rationgate thing… jeez. That was just ridiculous. You would have expected it from Bush-league’s appointees, but this administration has been holding itself to a higher standard (not that it would take much effort to do that, mind you). You get one political appointee who decides to “help out his friends” (by jiggering their accounts to make them unlimited) and it can tarnish the whole shootin’ match. If the so-called “friends” had been smart about it, and only bought what they really needed (or even wanted), it wouldn’t have made a difference… but noooooo. They went around selling enough “spare” rations to trigger an inspection, and were busily hoarding more. Until one of them burned down his house, of course. Too bad stupidity isn’t a crime — then again, if you’re stupid enough you’ll eventually do something blatantly illegal, so maybe its indirectly criminal. Hm.

In the “unexpected expense” department, my little motorcycle spit a valve early in the week. I’m hoping to have a replacement motor in before I have to go back to the office, but I might have to bite my lip and take the car. I’d really like to get one of those Yamaha Commuter Scooters, but the waiting list is long and the dealers are getting a stiff premium for them. Someone had his stolen right out of the parking lot at work two weeks ago. The security cameras showed a pickup truck with a lift backing up to it, picking it up, and driving off with the bike dangling off the back. The company is signing everyone up for 15-minute “watch” shifts to prevent that from happening again; if everyone takes a turn, we’ll each have to do it once a week. If that.

The kids finally got up the nerve to ask about their parents last night. You think you’re ready for it, you know you’re not, but you have to do your part. I told them what happened, and how we learned about it. The tears didn’t stop Serena from finally asking, “Were our parents bad people?”

“Of course not,” Mrs. Fetched said. “They wanted what was best for you, and made sure you’d be cared for.”

“They did — or tried to do — something bad,” I pointed out. “You can’t justify armed robbery, after all. But they weren’t bad people, just desperate.”

“And with God’s help, we won’t have to worry about you guys,” Mrs. Fetched said.

Indeed. They took it pretty hard, as expected, but Kim said later that they figured something had happened to them but were afraid to ask. Rene and Christina cried with them, and they were all pretty quiet last night. But I went upstairs this morning to find them, as usual most weekend mornings, sprawled around in the same room. At least they didn’t have to get up and go to school. They'll be out after next week, and the school system is wisely letting the kids have an entire summer so they don’t have to run the air conditioning in the school buildings. Things will still be warm by Labor Day, but it won’t be that brutally oppressive heat we’ll be getting all too soon. Daughter Dearest is going to hop the train and see what she can of the country while it’s still possible, mostly the northern half. I’m hoping that when she gets to Seattle, we can get a video linkup with her granddad from the place where he was on the ship when the Japanese surrendered. Talk about good timing on his part.

So this was a little stream-of-consciousness tonight. Life’s like that sometimes, going in several directions at once.



  1. Rationing, coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Of course, it's happened before. Interesing installment, Far.

  2. Hiya FAR.

    I agree with Boran that it will be coming to a neighborhood near us all soon. I've always been flabbergasted that with the amount of money spent in Iraq that there has been no cut back or rationing per say.

    I guess I'm more worried about with the way things are going how the food situation will hold out. I mean if it gets down to it, I can always start a garden, but damn, I hate doing the lawn bad enough to even think about a garden. But when you get hungry enough, who cares about pulling weeds.

  3. Well, we can't have people sacrificing FamilyMan. That would hardly be fair.

    Good Show, FAR -- it's creeping me out. So I'm thinking you're getting really good.

  4. Hey all!

    Boran, the rationing system has been ready to go for a couple of decades. I tweaked it a bit for FAR Future, based on convenience technology that wasn't available in 1980. Right now, if we really had to, we could live on 10 gallons per week. Six would force me to work at home more often (what a pity).

    FM, see if you can get the library to find you a book called "Edible Forest Gardens" — it's the ultimate slacker garden, all perennials, just let it grow. Besides, you could always dig up a big piece of lawn for your garden, then you wouldn't have to mow it!

    KB, sacrifice is certainly a dirty word these days, isn't it? It has connotations of scary brown people, altars, and maybe a volcano in the background. Right now, people fear rationing more than high gas prices, but that might change once the choice is rationing for everyone or not getting any fuel at all.

  5. I have a couple of people who've quit 2nd jobs that they really need. But, it's just not worth the cost of the gas -- they're working all these extra hours for an extra $100 at the end of the month....

    And it's certainly a factor in my decision to retire. (aside from the biggest one: I don't want to work anymore)

  6. I said, "couple of people" but I should have said: "couple of friends"

    I'm an idiot....

  7. Hey Far! Here's a little different take on the rationing...I believe it's already happening. There is no need to ration on the down hill slope of things.... The price of energy will control the demand for it.

    "Rationing" means holding back something that is already there. Not of what you hope you're going to get... How are you going to ration something that is not there? How would you go about rationing (the amount of, let alone the price of)something that is in question because it's being imported?

    This isn't like the times during WWII, when fuel and other products were rationed, because the armed services needed it. That was the up hill part of the slope, when resource was abundant (at that point what seemed "unlimited"), however modern industrial manufacturing was just coming on line. That was the reason rationing made sense back then. The resource was there but manufacturing that resource into fuel or other other useable products (rubber,metals, etc.) was limited and used to support the war effort and what was left over, was then rationed.

    Just a thought.....

    Thanks, yooper

  8. So perhaps, be thinking on terms that you'll only afford 8.5 gallons of fuel per week...At least that is what I'm seeing now, people can only afford so much....

    Perhaps, Daughter Dearest, isn't going anywhere at all.....It just doesn't make sense to me, to have what has happened to your family at the Manor and her feeling "safe enough" to go on vaction across the country......but, that's just me.

    Thanks, yooper

  9. katiebird, you're not an idiot! In a way, you've just proved my point.
    You and you're friends are simply not going to have the need of fuel, as much anymore....hmmmm, good luck paying the ever higher costs of living, THAT will not retire......

    Thanks, yooper

  10. No prob, KB. I tell ya, if I didn't have this albatross of a house, I'd be looking at early retirement too.

    Yooper, that's true about rationing — people are already starting to limit their driving. But markets don't always distribute a scarce resource for best effect. I figure farmers (and farm transport) & emergency services will have to get first dibs just to keep food production from falling off a cliff, for example. In a "diesel goes to the highest bidder" scenario, nobody eats.

  11. {{FAR}} Maybe FAR Future will become a best seller and make all your dreams true....

    What impresses me about you (well, one of the things that impresses me) is that with all the things you've got going on (a truly impressive array of responsibilities) you still manage to block off time and emotional space to write. Not everyone can do that.

    I sure can't.

  12. {{{KB}}} Heh, writing is how I escape. Not necessarily to a better place… but at least a different place.

  13. Hey Far! What really scares me are shortages or no fuel period at any price. If that is to happen in wide-spread areas, as in the early 70's, that will capture people's attention, and perhaps our little world will never be the same at that point and beyond...

    Thanks, yooper

  14. Yooper, that might be just the thing to wake people up. We had spot shortages here after Katrina in 2005, some stations would be out but others would have gas. One station in town was putting 15-gallon limits on purchases back then (which is next to no limit, when your car has a 10-gallon tank!).


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