Them Bones, by John Ostrander
Oh, Your toe bone connected to your – FOOT BONE.
Your foot bone connected to your – ANKLE BONE.
Your ankle bone connected to your – LEG BONE.
Now hear the word of the Lord!
Remember that song? Dry Bones – a great African-American spiritual.Some of us remember it from the climatic episodes of The Prisoner, that great TV series starring Patrick McGoohan, the ending of which still befuddles the hell out of me. That’s alright; I like a lot of things that befuddle me – women have befuddled me a lot over the years but, dang, I like ‘em a lot!
What I like about the song is the word “connected.” It suggests we look at things in context. I can understand how, in academia, it’s useful to parse things out for study. Sometimes studying a tree can tell you a lot about a forest. However, I do wonder if we haven’t gotten too specialized in our daily lives. Special Interest Groups (SIGs) seem to have more pull in government than ordinary citizens. Their power comes from their myopia. They are not there to think of the general well-being; they are there to work for the narrow interests of one group, whether or not that benefits the whole, and sometimes despite the fact that it does not benefit the whole.
The same is especially true on the Internet. There is a niche for every conceivable group and sub-group and some groups of which I would never conceive or would want to conceive (child pornography being an example). I worry, however, about a fracturing of our vision. I’m concerned about our ability to see beyond our own narrow scope of vision and interests anymore.
Events don’t occur in a vacuum. We need to see things in context not only of our own needs but of the nation and not only of the nation but of the world. It’s necessary not for any altruistic reason but for sheer survival.
I’m not going to use the analogy that a butterfly’s wings beating in China can call tornados in Kansas or whatever. My reaction to that may be like yours: That just don’t make sense. Maybe it’s true, maybe they can prove it in some manner but I just do not believe it.
There is cause and effect, however – your leg bone’s connected to your… THIGH BONE – and we have to understand that in context.
Let’s talk about oil.
Certain things I hope we can agree to take as a given. Oil is a non-renewable natural resource. There’s a finite amount of the stuff. We’ve been using a lot of it in the past 150 years; more so in the latter part of that era. At a certain point – which some think we’ve already reached – we will have consumed more than there is still in the ground.
America has consumed a lot of oil in the past decades – proportionally more than we should, if we use size of population as a yardstick. We’ve gotten away with it because of our position in the world following WW2. Now China has a growing economy, as does India, and both are in direct competition for that oil that we use to chug so freely. Increased competition for product = price of product goes up. Cause and effect. Your thigh bone connected to your – HIP BONE.
Gas prices are high. No news there. Oil, gas, diesel, heating oil. Some of that is by natural cause and effect – some of it ain’t. Enron, during its high-flying days, convinced Congress that energy commodity trading should be free from any kind of federal oversight. As a result, it wasn’t supply and demand that was – and is – determining the price of heating oil; it’s the speculators who are manipulating the price for their own greed.
Side-rant: can we stop saying that a free market will regulate itself? Has it done that? The market exists to make money, preferably hand over fist. Regulations and oversight are necessary to keep them from doing it to the egregious detriment of everyone else. More money is made by providing less product or service for the same or more amount of cash. That’s where fit in the equation. From the speculators’ point of view, our job is to get screwed over. The government should be watching out for interests – not those looking to essentially steal from us. End of side-rant.
The price of everything is going up because it is all influenced by the cost of oil and what is made from oil – gas, heating oil, diesel, plastics, and so on. Your hip bone connected to your – BACK BONE. Some of that is due to manipulation and sheer outright greed of the oil companies but a lot of it is due to the competitive demand for oil and the shrinking amount of it that is available. Your back bone connected to your – SHOULDER BONE.
The price on everything is going to – HAS to – go up. Your comics are going to cost more to ship. Whether they’re printed overseas or simply up in Canada, whatever mode is used to get them from the printer to the distributor to the retailer to you involves gas or diesel. A slight increase can be absorbed but this is bound to be a big one. (Yes, Comicmix is immune to that at the moment; by delivering online and digital, we can give it to you for free. At some point, however, if we’re doing trade paperbacks of GrimJacket al, we’re going to find our price point affected by all this.)
Food costs are rising. Of course they are. Farmers use equipment that uses a lot of gas or diesel and once it is produced it has to be shipped, often to processors who turn it into some other commodity (which uses more energy) such as bread (or, perhaps more important to some of the rest of us, beer, wine, and whiskey or chocolate cake or Twinkies or… well, you get the idea). Shoulder bone connected to your… NECK BONE.
Oil – petroleum – is used in the manufacture of plastics and how many different ways do you use every day? Coke bottles, water bottles, surgical uses, CDs, DVDs, computers – we don’t really need to go into it all, do we? And that’s just the more uses of plastic. It’s durable and it’s – or has been. Plastic, the cost of using plastic, is bound to go up – neck bone connected to your… HEAD BONE – and that cost is going to be passed on to someone and that someone is the consumer.
I don’t agree with Senators McCain and Clinton’s notions that we should have a “gasoline tax holiday” for the summer. I think Senator Obama is right; it’s a band-aid. Even assuming that the oil companies would pass that savings on to the consumer, it still doesn’t deal with the central problem. Them bones, them bones, them… DRY BONES! The cost of oil is likely to creep up further and then, when the vacation is over, you’ll suddenly see an additional jump in the price per gallon as the federal gas tax comes back on. The only real purpose of the “oil tax vacation/holiday” is to curry easy votes with the electorate. (No duh, right?) It also keeps any real debate about what to about the situation off the table. I’ll bet they’ll keep it off until the election.
If we let them.
Gas is a non-renewable resource. The amount available is diminishing. The competition for it is increasing. The price is going up. Cause and effect. Now hear the word of the Lord. The price of oil – of gas, of diesel, of heating fuel, of everything derived from petroleum – is not coming down and it’s going to have a profound impact on our society. There are some solutions but no single one is going to be the magic bullet. When someone becomes President, they need to be prepared to start doing something from the first day of their administration. We need to hear what plans they have.
Them bones gonna walk around.
Now hear the word of the Lord.
Here endeth the rant.