Congressman: "Imagine a World Without Balloons"


Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Airhead) took to the floor of the House last week to complain about his colleagues' insufficient commitment to the strategic helium reserve.

In a goofy, pun-ridden speech that was also (not so) hilariously economically illiterate, Johnson raised the specter of balloonless birthday parties and voices stuck permanently in the lower register due to lack of sufficient helium supplies.

He wants to "give industries that rely on helium the lift they deserve."

"Today," he complained, "the House has chosen to simply float above it all….Too often this body has sat deflated."

There was also a noble gas joke and a hot air pun. Obviously.

Reason has been on the helium reserve beat for a while now. Hint: We think it should be privatized.

(Full disclosure: The 24/7 guys made a similar joke last week. But they were kidding.)

Via National Review

Bonus: This is how to do a helium pun:


NEXT: CERN Scientists Collecting Antimatter To Find Antigravity

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Imagine a World without Buffoons!

    1. We'd have to get rid of congress first.

    2. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
      - Mark Twain

      Amazing how much contempt that man had for Congress. Actually, no, I take that back. It's amazing everyone doesn't feel the same way.

  2. Reason has been on the helium reserve beat for a while now. Hint: We think it should be privatized

    You think private citizens should have the products of nuclear reactions? This is the problem with the 2nd Amendment debate: people like you!

    1. Private citizens are products of nuclear reactions.

      1. Giggity.

      2. And we don't let them control themselves, now do we?

  3. I thought Hank was suggesting we use the helium reserve to stop Guam from tipping over?

    1. We can't do that, then the whole island might fly away!

  4. We can't cut anything.

  5. You know who else imagined a world without balloons?

    1. Joseph-Michel and Jacques-?tienne Montgolfier?

      1. That's what I was thinking.

    2. Not me, I can't Imagine anyone could imagine such a thing. Why not just have childrens birthday party's and beat the little brats with wooden sticks,same thing no balloons. Evil tea party bastards.

  6. "Bonus: This is how to do a helium pun:"

    It missed

    HE is the Alpha (particle)

  7. Oh, Hank. Never quit. Please.

  8. I guess it's a nice gesture that we let retards get elected to congress. I mean, after all, there is no way this guy could hold down a job sweeping the floor at McDonalds.

    1. If it weren't for Congress and the federal bureaucracy, the job prospects of retards would be practically non-existant

  9. that this guy is a veteran member of Congress speaks, no, screams volumes.

  10. The most hilarious part of this story is to watch the politicians simultaneously complain that the Helium reserve has been selling it's helium for less than the market price, and that there aren't enough private helium suppliers to replace it.

  11. Imagine how much more awesome birthday parties would be if we used hydrogen and got a fiery finale after cake, ice cream, and the bouncy castle (assuming it's all done safely, of course).

  12. It makes sense to capture and sequester helium from natural gas in large quantities. Once the helium is consumed along with natural gas it is lost forever.

    A stockpile of helium could become very valuable for future technologies and fairly cheap to maintain, cheap enough even for a private helium speculator.

    The problem is that the US government does not respect property rights. Imagine that somebody developed a commercially feasible 3He fusion technology. The 3He could be recovered from the helium inventory, but a private speculator would only have maintained a large reserve if he were fully confident that he would retain full property rights, including the right to set his price for his property. A private speculator would not invest in large-scale reserves with negative or breakeven cashflows as far as the eye can see unless he was certain that his rights would be honored in the possible, though unlikely, event of a new demand driven by a revolutionary technology. But, if a revolutionary new technology created a huge spike in demand for helium, there's little hope that the government could resist the impulse to control prices in the name of fairness.

    There are only two options to avoid squandering potentially valuable helium: 1) a government He stockpile or 2) absolute protection of property rights in helium. The government can never be trusted to fulfill #2.

  13. I don't think people understand that we literally cannot get more helium once it's gone. Wasting it on party balloons is absolutely insane. Should people have the right to waste a precious resource that can't be renewed and could be extremely important in the future? No.

    Some things are so important that the government has to involved. Do I like it? No. But unfortunately sometimes reality trumps ideology. I would love it if you could just get antibiotics over the counter, it would save a lot of money in the short run, but in the long run it would create more and more antibiotic resistant bacteria. So the government has to regulate it.

  14. Wait. Wait. What the fuck.

    He's right?? Hank Johnson is right? We actually have/had a strategic helium reserve???

  15. Whatever else may be true of Rep. Johnson, being on his staff, particularly in the speechwriting department, must be all kinds of fun.

  16. "Today," he complained, "the House has chosen to simply float above it all....Too often this body has sat deflated."

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.