But one thing they will almost never do is go into government. If you really are brighter than average and you expect to do be able to use that talent to do better than others, government work is really your last choice. And as a result the people in elected office tend to be a thin gruel. They are a confident bunch, but on average they are usually a little dimmer than the general public. That was made painfully obvious this past week when the US House of Representatives summoned the heads of the US oil companies to their kangaroo court, to talk about their ideas on how to relieve the high cost of oil. The banality, foolishness, elitism, naivety and out and out stupidity demonstrated by our elected officials was truly embarrassing.
By far the worst was when representative Maxine Waters was trying to threaten to nationalize the oil industry, probably to strike fear into the hearts of the business leaders, but the fangs were largely removed from her threat because she couldn’t remember the word “nationalize”. Someone would probably do well to remind Ms Waters that if she wants to talk about stealing billions of dollars in assets belonging to US citizens and shareholders, she might want to look up the word for it ahead of time.
That’s what “nationalizing” an industry is of course; it’s the government stealing the company which belongs to the shareholders. The CEO’s don’t own their oil companies… not all of them anyway. They may have a piece, and it may even be bigger than the average shareholder, but if Maxine Waters got to implement her plan then it would be the common US citizen who would be hurt. What’s that? You say that you don’t own any stock in oil companies? Well do you own any mutual funds or have a 401K? Do you have money in a defined benefit pension plan? Well where do you imagine they put their money? Exxon-Mobile is the most profitable company in US history, and a large number of US citizens have an piece of it, either directly or indirectly.
Of course that was just the worst of it. There was more than enough other stupidity to go around. In another astounding exchange Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz said to the Execs: "I can't say that there is evidence that you are manipulating the price, but I believe that you probably are. So prove to me that you are not."
I’d like to tell you how I would have responded to an accusation like that but conservative writer Mark Steyn came up with something better. His response, which he wrote about for his syndicated column went:
Had I been in the hapless oil man's expensive shoes, I'd have answered, "Hey, you first. I can't say that there is evidence that you're sleeping with barnyard animals, but I believe that you probably are. So prove to me that you are not. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence and prima facie evidence, lady? Do I have to file a U.N. complaint in Geneva that the House of Representatives is in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?"
The truth is that by letting environmental and global warming groups set policy, it’s congress who is responsible for high prices of oil. They keep us out of nuclear power which is both clean and safe. The prohibit the drilling of the VERY substantial oil reserves that the US controls domestically, and they allow frivolous lawsuits prevent the development of new refining capacity. They had a choice between a policy which would keep oil costs low and one which will put a bunch of wacko environmental zealots in charge of our domestic energy policy, and they chose the latter.
And it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. John McCain is already giving lip service to the same bunch of empty headed neophytes who believe in environmentalism as a religion, and Barak Obama is letting them drive his plans. If we get McCain in office next term then I think we can expect gasoline prices in the $10 to $12 dollar range in the next 5 years, and if Obama is elected it will be even higher. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him consider the more extreme position of price controls and rationing which will cause massive shortages and utter economic collapse of many areas of the country.
And I’ve got to tell you, the truth is, I’m not all that upset about it. My wife and I drive very little, less than 12K miles per year combined. We’ve always driven cars that get fairly good mileage, and I make a pretty good living so I will be able to afford all the gas we need. Our house is heated exclusively with a pellet stove which we bought a few years ago to save money. If natural gas costs multiply by 10 or even 20 our annual heating bill will still only be about $800 per year. We have a 25K Watt generator wired into our house for those rolling blackouts which will come with the Obama administration’s new rules to deal with the “energy emergency”. And the gas we need for it will be available to us on the black market that springs up around his 'command and control' economic restrictions.
Will it be a hassle for us? Sure. But thanks to my "always be prepared" wife, the truth is, we’ll be fine. but in the meantime an entire generation of Americans will be learning how effective modern liberalism is at actually solving people’s problems. They’ll be seeing first hand what fools they were to let the government take control of so much of their lives. And they’ll realize that all the people they’ve been listening to in the Democratic Party, who were promising them the moon and swearing to give the bill for it to “the rich”, were actually lying to them. They've never known hardship so they made foolish political decisions. so now I suppose, they're going to learn the hard way.
And speaking of learnign things the hard way, maybe the Republicans in office will be learning something too. Maybe they’ll be learning that the liberal’s SOP of using other people’s money to buy votes doesn’t work for a party that's supposed to support small government. They’ll learn that contrary to what David Frum and other's say, “limited government” really will get them popular support. And if we’re really lucky then maybe another Reagan will rise from the ashes of what many are saying will probably look like Jimmy Carter’s second term.
Then again, they are elected officials; and since that says something about their intelligence, maybe I give them too much credit.