Sunday, January 27, 2008

Doh! Independence Imprudens

Crazy - or what?

I like to keep in touch with what's happening in the old home town, Independence, Missouri. It makes me feel closer to home and to that end the internet is a god-send. No better way to keep in touch has yet been invented!

I read the local paper, The Independence Examiner, which, in my boyhood I threw on folks' porches, on-line. And, all from the comfort of my chair.

One of the best bits is the weekly poll of on-line readers. You have to choose answers to questions of topical interest and vote for your favourite answer. I always vote and always check to see what the result of last week's poll was.

I love it when I'm in-step with my “homies”!

Unfortunately, it doesn't happen often.

A bit like my old mate and neighbour Bill Bryson I find that reports from my countrymen that I am really dead are greatly exaggerated. I just don't got home enough to know what the good folks of independence are thinking.

So, the straw poll of readers of the Examiner should enable us to get a handle on Middle America.

A recent Examiner poll asked readers to rank the causes of a weakening economy in America. 14% of respondents told the rest of us to chill out – there is nothing to worry about! Only 1% were seriously concerned by the recent stock market woes and the prospect of a Wall Street melt down. 19% were appalled by the lack of “good jobs” - whatever that means? A truly staggering 19% were apoplectic about the national debt.

The killer? 28% were pretty much ready to start a war to remove the American dependence on foreign oil – citing its consequential effect on “high” gas prices.

If women are from Venus and men from Mars, the good residents of Independence are from Planet Dumbo.

Where did they get this idea from?

These are the same folks who are convinced that JFK wasn't killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. They instinctively know that Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were probably victims of some great, unknown and un-knowable conspiracy. They firmly believe that Genesis is 100% word-perfect. A large proportion of them voted for Ol' Dubbya. They are disciples of anyone who will assuage their righteous indignation by shifting the reality of dwindling oil supplies and over-consumption onto some conspiracy by the rest of the world to rob them of what they see as their God-given right to drive monster trucks and live in a house the size of a cathedral.

They are and have been poorly served by their politicians.

Disregarding the Global Warming debate, it is still a fundamental truth that America is not so much addicted to oil and they are addicted to cheap gas.

In Independence, the price of gas has taken on a significance far beyond its true level of importance. Politicians can just as well be in favour of Islamist fundamentalism as they can be of high gas prices.

The result is a nonsense of misinformation and illogical thinking.

It's time the Examiner readers, and the rest of America, were dragged (screaming if need be) into the real world. Oil is a finite resource. It's running out. Therefore, you can't buck the market. In the home of free enterprise capitalism this lesson should not be too hard to learn. But, in Missouri we have saying: before you can teach a Missouri mule anything you have to get his attention by hitting him over the head with a two-by-four.

If'n I was you folks, I'd start learning to duck large bits of wood!

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