Joe Biden's Slot Machine
Will gas prices topple President Joe Biden?
The French demanded bread. The queen is supposed to have told them to eat cake. The king's head thudded into the basket below the guillotine. Tea chests splashed into Boston Harbor. In 2007, Mexicans rioted over the price of corn used to make tortillas.
The president of the United States of America is capitalism's innocent bystander. He (and it's always a he) watches as the price of automobile gasoline or home heating oil goes up or down, and he hopes the peasants will not take to the ballot box. Compared to the power of a multinational oil company, the president has very little power, and he cannot buy senators nearly so recklessly.
The American population is a one-eyed beast, which means it can only watch one thing at a time. Right now, it's watching prices at the pump. This isn't as stupid as it seems. Gas gets you to work, where you make the money you need to buy food. That's no small thing.
And, like the ownership of a gun, the ownership of a car is one of the last vestiges of the old, American free life. We are Americans. We are mobile, and we are armed, and our mothers can drive us to another state to kill people. Other than flying an American flag from the back of your full-sized, four door, four-wheel-drive pickup truck, there is no truer expression of American freedom than driving somewhere with a gun.
There are people who insist that Biden is deliberately raising the price of gasoline to "destroy our country." In other words, we riot for gas, and Biden says, "Let 'em drive electric cars."
Still, I've lived three quarters of a lifetime, and over those six decades, gas prices have only gone up. They have gone down for short (very short) periods of time, but the general direction, like the price of cigarettes, has been upward.
Behold the economics of a Saturday night when I was in high school during the 1970s.
A six pack of beer for $1.50. A small cheese pizza for $1.50. Two gallons of gas for $1. A pack of Marlboros for half a buck. The girl was impressed, not by how cheap everything was, but by the fact that I could get us beer. She came along for the ride.
Biden must remember days when everything could be bought even more cheaply, when no president really had to watch the price of gasoline, when the numbers at the pump might not be the face of the slot machine that determines his fate.
Those numbers, those small numbers flickering behind the dirty Plexiglas at the pump, those numbers may turn out to be the most important poll taken about the Biden presidency; they may be the very earliest of early voting.
Maybe 60% of Americans would give up on voting rights, rights for gays, abortion rights, cheaper day care, cheaper prescription drugs, economic equality and racial equality for a 25% decrease in the price of gasoline. For a 50% drop, we'd storm the Capitol all over again.
We won't, will we? Maybe. No one thought we'd do it the first time.
An entire social agenda, an entire theory of government, great castles of thought about sex and race and fairness, all of it rides on the numbers spinning at the pump.
And Biden is losing
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a high-mileage collection of his best columns, is called "Devil's Elbow, Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, and iBooks.