Thursday, May 04, 2006

Political Magicianship

One of the elements of a successful stage magician is misdirection of the audience’s attention. Without mastering that skill, a stage magician is nothing more than a sideshow, background noise. Indeed, both political parties have been to magic school, and both parties have been hard at work to misdirect our attention to anything other than real pressing issues, particularly when it comes to self-created morasses and performance shortcomings.
Congress debates changing automotive fuel economy standards, and all admire them for being persons of action. There is a little name-calling, to make it look like good, old-fashioned debate, but there is something more going on behind the scenes. If automotive economy standards were to be raised, a phenomenon known as Jevon’s Paradox will kick in. Jevon's Paradox states that any increase in the efficiency of use of a resource is accompanied by an increase in the actual use of that resource. In other words, if the distance a gallon of gas will move a person doubles, the amount of driving that person does is likely to triple. The market economy almost guarantees that this will be so, because its goal is to produce as much as possible, and all production involves consumption.

And the real fact, that gasoline costs $3 per gallon, appears to be dealt with, yet is not. There are all kinds of conditions and timelines, and everyone must have patience and understanding. . . ad nauseam. Now, do not fret; real action is being taken to affect that unpalatable truth. The United States is preparing to invade yet another sovereign state, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which also happens to have immense oil resources. The wind-up is not as pronounced as the wind-up for invading Iraq was, but a cursory analysis of public statements by administration officials like Condoleeza Rice make it clear that the United States has set its sights on its next target.

The news about the invasion of Iraq has slowed to a trickle, but on average, more than 60 flag-draped coffins arrive at Dover AFB in Delaware each month, carrying the remains of U.S. soldiers, the majority of whom are in the reserves, not the regular military. The U.S. invaded Iraq and destabilized the region, which caused instability and uncertainty in the oil market, which had predictable results at the gas pump. Please look at something else.

That is why last month illegal immigration came to the top of the national agenda. A further misdirection of our attention, we discussed whether people who come here willing to take wages no American citizen could live on are criminals or not. Illegal immigrants serve an economic purpose, and in the United States, the official religion has always been economics. The crucial issue in the debate was that we were not discussing the pending invasion of Iran, the current problem in Iraq, nor the fact that as much as the Democrats like to posture, in the last eight years they have done nothing so much as prove that they are part of the problem.

Politicians, all politicians, rise to the top of the heap in direct proportion to their usefulness to others. John helps Mary, so Mary owes John. Mary helps John move up a rung in the power structure, and now John owes Mary. It takes a lot of Marys to move John to the top, so he ends up owing everyone for his rise, and since it takes a lot of help to stay on top, the political Johns of the world are always dependent on those whose help put them in office. Now for the surprise: it ain’t the voters that the Johns are beholden to. The Democrats in power have done so little to reflect the views of Americans who oppose the war, that calling them unresponsive is an understatement.

And so, while we watch the national sideshow of congress tackling “issues” made for sound bites (like penalties for oil-company price-gouging), the machine rolls ever faster downhill. The cliff ahead is clearly visible to anyone whose gaze is not misdirected. So, what do you think the invasion of Iran would do to the price of gas?
© 2006


  1. Anonymous12:54 PM

    I am terribly afraid that Bush is rushing us willy-nilly into a war, a real world war. the good old boy network, which he is a part of, swallows all tha hawkinsh rhewtoric without thought of the consequences. When I look at the scandals and bribes that beset this administration I wonder if Bush is a part or if he is a true niaf who assumes that sll the boys in his network are good. The American glory papadigm that propelled us into WWII was necessary at the time, but we were asked into that conflict, we did not start it. This time we are starting it, and due to globalization, we may not be able to finish it.

  2. Now that you see the cliff, tell somebody. Each one reach one. We cannot depend on the machine to put on the brakes; the machine has no brakes. Its sheer weight is accelerating the speed at which we approach our destruction.

    Those who do nothing are part of the problem. Tell your preacher to pray for peace. Tell him every week until he does it. Tell your neighbors why you think WWIII is upon us. Remember that in Nazi Germany, many kept silence until it was too late.


About Me

I love my country, that is why I criticize its absurdities; I love my freedom, that is why I do it publicly.