When I was a little boy (eons ago, according to my children), my baby brother would occasionally throw a fit. If I got upset and started acting like a goof because he was acting like a good, my mom would say, “Just ignore him and he’ll stop.”
Usually, she was right. He was trying to get attention and if throwing a fit didn’t work the interest in throwing a fit ended.
This ancient family scenario came to mind this week when the U.S. Congress had hearings on the high gasoline prices, oil-company executives were called to testify and various senators took to pontificating (this is the grown-up version of a toddler throwing a fit) about the evils of the oil industry.
One senator dramatically asked the oil executives if they have any conscious about what they are “doing” to the American people. Another elected official suggested it was time for the government to take over oil production. Another suggested putting a big tax on oil-company profits.
In other words, the testimony by industry officials was just an excuse for the members of Congress to demonstrate their concern and get attention in front of the television cameras.
There was much dramatic rhetoric, expressions of deep concern, furrowed brows and well-practiced expressions of amazement. There weren’t any terribly constructive suggestions.
Let’s be honest. Does anyone really believe taxing a particular industry more will decrease prices to consumers? Can anyone offer an example where this has happened?
Does anyone really believe the government would do a better job of managing the energy business than private companies? Would the Post Office be the role model?
No…but it all sounds dramatic when combined with waving arms in front of the television cameras. And if it shows up on the local news, the folks back home will get the sense the elected officials are doing something.
They were. They were trying to get attention and the television cameras helped.
In other words, our elected representatives acted much like my baby brother oh those many years ago. And I have the same advice for the television folks as my mom had for me: don’t pay any attention and maybe they will stop.
Turn off the cameras and spare the country the childish posturing. But if something has a real solution that will save me money, create jobs and not limit my freedom, proclaim it from the mountain tops.
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