Some things are perfectly predictable. This weekend I'll be at the Estherville loophole. I will try to improve my collection. I will see a blue-steel candidate and, after due discourse with the owner, will make what I believe a realistic offer. He will respond: "I got more than that in it," as though that was (a) necessarily true and (b) my problem rather than his. As I say, completely predictable.
Just as are the scrambling apes we hire to represent us. The headline news in the Midwest is still propane. It is either unobtainable or priced out of reach of poor people,and even some not so poor. ($4.99 per gallon locally at last report.)
Our politicians are of course very concerned. They feel the pain as they lounge about the overheated Taj Mahals where they meet to dicker with your money. They flood the air waves and strain newsprint budgets with promises to "do something."
It's a tossup between my northern neighbor, Minnesota, and my home state about which looks more cynically ridiculous.
Minnesota state government is responding to the home-heat crisis with a hotline.
"Minnesota Hotline. How may I help you Sir or Madam?"
"Hello. Dis is Ole and it is 'bout 14 below and our tank it is empty and Lena and me are cold."
"We understand, Please press 13 to be connected with the the Minnesota Department of Interior Environmental Comfort."
"You tink dey help us?"
(Under breath: Beats the Hell out of Me.) "I am sure you will find, Sir, that they understand your concern. Good bye."
We have a sort of hot line too, but our Des Moines politicians also want to throw a little money at Jack Frost, one million dollars. They are telling the media and hoping for praise -- the kind that can be turned into votes come November.
They would really prefer that you stop reaching for your $3 Chinese calculator, especially if you remember that Iowa already provides heating help for about 95,000 homes (under LIHEAP). Because then you might discover that their massive show of compassion amounts to to ten and a half-bucks per home, or enough propane to heat your average house for maybe four hours.
There's no intent here to belittle the problem, and I'm on record as offering the comfort of the Camp Jiggleview fire to anyone who won't steal the silver. I doubt if I could get any of the legislthings to tell me if they've offered to open their home.