aired March 12, 2011 on Dave’s Gone By. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-CzdJjq9kY
Shalom Dammit, this is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of March 13th, 2011.
How times change! It used to be, if I was sick to my stomach, I would get gas. Now, I look at the price of gas and get sick to my stomach.
Thirty five years ago, this country went through a so-called gas crisis. After millions of centuries with animals and humans finding different sources of energy, suddenly we were out of fuel. Prices at the pump went through the roof, there were shortages, lines around the block – anybody remember filling your gas tank on odd-and-even days? I’ve had my share of odd days, and I still wanna get even.
But then we learned that although fuel is not an inexhaustible resource, we still had a tushie-load more of it than the government, the Arabs and the ecologists were telling us.
The 1970s gas crunch was a manufactured crisis; the oil conglomerates said “jump,” and we jumped. Our president was too busy worrying how to deal with the Arabs… to deal with the Arabs. So, like the mouse biting the elephant, OPEC sank its teeth into their favorite enemy: us.
But did Americans learn anything from the Jimmy Carter catastrophe? Did we conserve, demand more efficiency, do ANYTHING differently? Of course not.
In fact, for the next three decades, the unholy trinity – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler – went to the American public and said, “You know what you need? Hummers, stretch limos and SUV’s.” Cars that use enough oil in a day to run a banana republic for a month. And these banana-oil salesman made their case. American families bought cars large enough to house Chinese families. In a matter of months, you’d look around parking lots and there were no sedans anymore, just all-utility vehicles. You’d see a teenager driving a schoolbus and you’d think to yourself, “Why is a teenager driving a schoolbus?”, and then you’d realize, it’s his goddamn car!”
So what happens then? People forget about the 1978 gas crisis until…we get the worst president since Mr. Peanut, George W. Bush. Not only does he hate the Arabs and make war on the Arabs, but he’s financially in bed with the Arabs and stands to make a fortune from oil. Magically, oil prices go up.
And people bite the bullet, we manage, we hunker down – until the big recession of 2008. Don’t listen to the media when they say the recession was caused by unstable mortgages, insider trading, terrorism, taxes – I’ll tell you what made the economy tank – our tanks! As soon as gas hit $4 a gallon, wham went the wallets, whump went the purses, and clink went the padlocks on foreclosed businesses and houses.
After three years of economic misery, only now are we starting to taste fudge at the end of the tunnel. Unemployment might be easing, and we’re seeing new jobs – and I don’t just mean three-dollars-an-hour jobs at Nike for a dozen undocumented people all named “Jose.”
But what happens then? The Middle East goes meshuggeh, and gas goes gaga. Let me tell you something. I’m no Alan Greenspan (although we do share the same nose), but I will predict the next recession. If gas goes over 4 bucks a gallon, kiss the recovery
Not three dollars and ninety-eight cents; we’ll handle that because we’re used to getting shtupped, and we’ve been expecting it anyway. 3.99 – fine. But one penny over four dollars, and the toilet flushes. Again. No travel, no vacations, no big-screen TV’s, no expensive gifts for your favorite Hebrew spiritual leader…
“But Rabbi,” I hear you say, because I have very good ears, “We know, we know! The question is: what can we do about it?”
I say, if mobs of Arabs can overthrow their dictators, we can at least kick our democratically elected dictators where it hurts. No need for torches, marches, massive rallies – yet. For now, everybody get out your pens, your papers, your postcards – because we’re gonna write to the putzes in power. Not these long editorials from “concerned citizens”; those are as boring as the genealogical chapters in Leviticus.
We keep it simple. “4.01 and you’re out.” If gasoline climbs even one cent over four bucks, we will remember in November and give your job to another slob.
This message must go to everyone – from the President of the United States to the Melonville county clerk to the class president of Grover Cleveland Middle School. Doesn’t matter what the party affiliation is – the Republican Party, the Democratic party, the Donner Party, the Rent is Too Damn High Party – every single person in power. Send it to the CEO of your bank, the head of every Fortune 500 companyopolis, the captain of your softball team. 4.01 and you’re out.
Somewhere, among the millions of people receiving this message, will be someone who gets the message. If not, well, I hope you have a skateboard.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, NY. Fill `er up – halfway.
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