Sunday, August 24, 2008

Whistling Past the Graveyard

I was standing inside the showroom of a Ford dealer, waiting for my son-in-law to turn back his leased car. Two salesmen were nearby. I was looking at this large pickup in the showroom--Pickups, like SUVs come in many flavors, from monster to large to ordinary. This one was on the large side. I commented, "So, I guess you're not selling many of these, with gasoline at $4.00/gallon. He smiled, nervously, and replied, "Oh, no, if someone wants a truck, they want a truck. They'll come in and buy this one. Besides, the price is coming down." I said, "well, no, the prices will be up and down, but they're headed up permanently. We are now at the end of that period when we could hold on to low prices, while the rest of the world was being stung. Forty years ago, when we lived in India, we paid $2.50 a gallon, while in the US gas sold for $0.30. That period is over." He replies, "Yes, but they use liters, don't they?" I'm thinking, "Hmmm . . . and your point would be?"

See, it didn't matter what I said, he needed to believe. His future depended on the price of gas coming down, or on his conviction that Americans are fundamentally idiots when it comes to cars. And I was thinking . . . he's whistling past the graveyard.

When I read letters to the Eitor in the Observer saying, "well if drilling in ANWR brings down the price of gas 3 cents a gallon, I'm in favor of it. I don't care about wildlife, " I think, this man wants to be lied to. He's why a John McCain, or a Newt Gingrich can get away with arguing in favor of drilling. Their public wants to be lied to. Newt and John know that. They're not cynical, they're manipulative, much like the TV pitch men.

It's how we elected George W twice. He lied, they believed.

That's how American politics works these days.

But the Bill Collector is walking up the walk now. He's going to want to get paid.
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