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Why doesn't anybody question...

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
December 6, 2010
My wife and I have a new topic of conversation: gasoline prices. We compare research conducted by driving past establishments such as Pride, Irving and Racing Mart.
Yes, we're middle-aged.
Our informal observations are that prices are on the rise. In Holyoke near I-91, we spotted regular gas at $3.10 and yet I hear no one complaining.
The busiest job in America is the person having to make those prices changes on the signs and in the computers. The prices seem to change over-night.
Now, I'm not blaming the businesses I named. I know that gasoline is no longer the moneymaker at gas stations. Those businesses are held hostage by market pressures far beyond their influence. The sale of convenience store items and food services yields far greater a profit margin.
Gas is part of the retail package, but is no longer the star.
Allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment. Remember full service? Remember gas price wars between nearby stations? Remember promotional giveaways such as glasses to get you to select one brand over another?
Gone, gone, gone.
Now, we get excited if gas is below $2.70 and we seemingly don't complain if it tops $3.
And who doesn't need an electric car? Or a gas-powered vehicle that gets 40 miles to the gallon? Or greater development of alternative fuels?
***

So why is Sarah Palin and her family being shoved down our throats? I understand why Palin was extended a contract with FOX News. She is still a darling with those who lean to the right, despite her very slim resume and low level of accomplishment. She didn't even finish her one term as governor.
She is another talking head in the media sea of talking heads.
But I can't understand why TLC decided that Palin should have her own reality show about Alaska. I've always wanted to visit Alaska. It's a majestic and impressive place by everything I've ever seen.
I just don't need the further advance of Palin's dubious celebrity as part of that sightseeing package. TLC could not have found another way — one that was non-political — to showcase the state?
While at my mom's house for Thanksgiving, I watched the conclusion of "Dancing with the Stars." I don't watch the show, but mom does and when in Rome — well, you know.
While the definition of the word "star" has been stretched by the producers to the point of almost having no meaning, the inclusion of Bristol Palin was certainly inexplicable to me.
A more accurate title would be "Dancing with People with Varying Degrees of Celebrity," but that's too long.
Described as a "teen activist," Palin's tenure on the show was marked by voting fraud by supporters who discovered a way to circumvent online security measures.
I'm enough of a conspiracy guy to think Palin would have stayed on the show to the end — short of breaking an ankle — just to ensure ratings and controversy.
But with everyone the producers could have picked, I find it fascinating that she was showcased.
Perhaps though — conspiracy guy speaking here — it was all part of a plan.
***

Speaking of plans, which is better: getting unemployment relief now to the people who need it and arguing in the next Congress about lowering the costs of government or adding millions of people from the desperate but hanging on class to the hopeless?
And why are so many people in Congress now up in arms about the deficit and the national debt but were silent about the Bush Administration's accounting practices on the War on Terror?
Speaking of the former president, the plan giving the wealthiest Americans a tax break was in part an effort to stimulate the economy. The theory is that with additional money in their pockets, they would chose to invest in businesses, which in turn would create jobs.
That theory has been proven to be wrong. We have a weakened middle class and growing working poor. The rich need to pay their fair share. Why is this so controversial?
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. And as always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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