? Only a real patriot can truly feel the monumental advance this nation of immigrants has made, inch by inch. And now, our understanding of the wonders of the universe, and supply and demand, slowly makes headway. From the Los Angeles Times lead story of March 16, 1980: "DRIVERS CUTTING GAS USE AS PRICES RISE: Evidence Shows Cost Is More Important in Reducing Consumption Than Believed." (A Nobel Prize is surely on its way.) "The long-held belief that American motorists would pay any price to drive is fast proving a myth. In 1974, after the Arab oil embargo and the quadrupling of world oil prices, many in the United States doubted that increasing prices at the pump would do much to curb consumption. People would give up almost anything, so the argument went, rather than reduce their driving. But six years later, those doubts are being dispelled. Americans have cut back their use of gasoline sharply below what analysts were projecting in the mid-1970s. Moreover, total gasoline use declined 5% last year and continues to drop in 1980, leading most experts to conclude that 1978 gasoline consumption—113.8 billion gallons, or about 16.4 gallons per week for each gasoline-fueled vehicle—will never be matched in the United States.…The popular notion that, come hell or high water, Americans would not give up the Sunday drive made it difficult to believe that high prices could help control consumption. But the recent drop in gasoline consumption—nearly 10% in the first six weeks of 1980 contrasted with the same period a year ago—has made more and more analysts and policy makers believe that motorists are not so resistant to change as some had supported." Ahhh. Garbage. (Sounds too much like "economics.")
? The administration in Washington may be a little loose with the taxpayer's dollar in doling out $2,670 to construct a solar-heated doghouse (the feds want to record the dog's behavior under solar conditions, check its grooming, habits and see what television shows it prefers) and in thrusting another $1,200 into the hands of an eager recipient in Lupus, Missouri, to erect a solar outhouse. Yet Jimmy can, with accuracy, present himself to the nation as an economy candidate this year. The House Appropriations Subcommittee estimates that the "taxpayers will save $3 million in transition costs this year if there is no change in government."
? A setback for socialized medicine in India: New Delhi surgeons have removed the wrong eye from a girl scheduled for a cancer operation. Now her other one must go as well. (At least they weren't making a profit on her, now.) And in a kind gesture that epitomizes the care the welfare state takes when cuddling its minions, the Internal Revenue Service has kindly extended the filing deadlines for the immediate families of those US citizens taken hostage in Iran. See the advantages in overseas travel?
? Yep. He's done it again. Jimmy Carter has promised to whip inflation with more than a WIN button: to reduce the cost of living, the government is raising the price of gasoline an estimated 10 cents per gallon. Mel Brooks was not available for comment, but it was rumored in the Capitol that the Hollywood producer-director was upset that the administration had gotten screen rights to the "anti-inflation" farce first. As for the rest that the Prez dished out to a nation up to its ears in double-digits, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner summed it all up right in the following day's headline; "CARTER: 'PAIN,' 'DISCIPLINE.' " And now an entire superpower in bondage.
? Senator Lawton Chiles (Drunk-Fla.), demonstrating just that certain deftness with the English tongue while pushing the outer limits of human credulity, commenting on President Carter's first absolutely lean, austere, minimum federal government expense account (that is, the fiscal 1981 budget): "I applaud proposed increases for Social Security and various health and social services, but the $16 billion deficit projected by the $615.8 billion budget will not help control inflation." It is hard to imagine how a fellow with the talents of the Honorable Mr. Chiles might ever be defeated.
? When the American electorate was first asked to jump into the Social Security program by Franklin the Great, many considered the idea of helping the country's elderly just splendid. They generally like the notion even better today, owing to the fact that the young adults of the Depression are the senior citizens of today. But now the Urban Institute has crammed some big numbers into an automated computer machine and come up with…even bigger numbers: "The elderly's share of the [federal] budget could soar over the next 40 years from about 25% now to more than 60%." American taxpayers are headed for a whopping balloon payment on Social Security, Medicare, federal employment retirement, and welfare fiascos. Imagine the future demand for fake IDs—so that all of us young'uns can get in on all those free lunches. Yummee!
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".