Byline: Zajacz, Washington beat.
I was walking down the corridor of the old Treasury building. It was built before air-conditioning and consequently has high ceilings, wide hallways, and is poorly lit. I don’t know why they won’t switch to LEDs. I’ve heard they have a warehouse filled with fluorescent bulbs.
Being a dark hallway and I contemplating the storage cost for fluorescent bulbs, I was walking with my head down, watching my feet moving me forward. At the corner of a connecting corridor, I ran into another who had the similar practice of staring at his feet as he walked.
I knew he was in statistics. I asked him, “What’s with all the inflation?” Startled by my question, he knew I was a reporter, he answered, “Biden’s blameless.” He searched in his suitcoat, took out a card, looked at it more than once, and repeated, “Yep, Biden is blameless.”
Gas prices are way up, I reply. “Is he responsible for production,” was the rhetorical response. Before he took office we were an exporter of oil. Biden ended the Keystone pipeline and imposed environmental standards not enacted into law by Congress that has made us an importer of oil, I noted. His defensive response was, “So?” Before he took office the price of a gallon of gasoline was around $2.15 afterward it went to about $3.30 a gallon. He replied, “Big deal, what’s a dollar a gallon?” It’s a fifty percent increase in gas prices. Isn’t that inflationary?
“How should I know? I’m just a statistician,” he whimpered. At the Treasury, I noted. Don’t you Treasury statisticians know the meaning of your results? From his increasingly hunched-over position, he stood to his full height, puffed out his chest, and replied, “I’ve worked here thirty-five years. Do you think if I knew what I was doing I’d still be working here?” I just stared at him. He continued, “Everybody makes mistakes. If you know what you’re doing and make a mistake you lose your job. If you don’t know, they can blame the error on a lack of training and you keep your job!” He added, “Besides the war has increased the cost of gas too.”
Rich people fleeing the stock market and buying up oil contracts are responsible for that, I stated. “Rich people run and buy gold,” he exclaimed. There isn’t enough gold to go around. The rich have been running into oil contracts for decades now. Don’t your statistics prove that? “Even if they did, I’m not allowed to know anything,” he replied. Oil contracts have doubled and so has the price of gasoline, I stated. He answered, “That must be a coincidence as Biden is blameless.”
The Treasury could be shorting oil contracts and driving the rich out of the oil commodity market right now, I shouted to him as he walked away, staring at his feet. He shrugged and shouted back, “You can’t be blamed for doing nothing. Biden is blameless.”