People really don’t learn, do they?

Having said that, let me clearly state I’ve never made any claim to massive intelligence. I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my life. For instance, when I was about 11 or 12, I found myself in my front yard, in the presence of a length of rope and a large maple tree. So, what did I do? I tied one end of the rope to said tree, and the other to the back belt loop of my brand new Farrah jeans, and I took off on a dead run.

I knocked myself out.

Yep, I knocked myself right out, and when I came to, I came to the awful realization that I had ripped the entire hind end out of my brand-new Farrah jeans.

I gathered my composure (along with the hind end of my brand-new Farrah jeans), and I went into the house, to find my mother, who witnessed the escapade out the kitchen window. I fully expected her to be furious, because after all, I had destroyed a rather expensive pair of jeans. But with a beaming smile on her face, she told me to go and change clothes.

Neither she nor my father ever made an issue of it. I now suspect it was because they were horribly ashamed and aghast that their baby boy was that stupid, and they figured since no one else saw it, it didn’t happen. And they secretly prayed their baby boy would smarten up enough to deal with the adult word.

The jury is still out.

I make this horribly embarrassing confession to make the larger point that as stupid as I have been in my life, I never, even once, gave the slightest thought to hoarding toilet paper or gasoline.

I thought I’d seen everything last year, when someone somewhere started a rumor that there was going to be a toilet paper shortage and people, drunk on their fear of the novel coronavirus, lost their collective mind and decided to hoard toilet paper. The end result of which was they broke the supply chain, and actually created what they feared.

Had people just purchased that commodity as it was needed, as we had forever, things would’ve been fine. But madness got manufactured, and the rest was empty shelves at the stores and fistfights over Charmin Extra Soft.

After that, I thought surely America was smart enough to learn a valuable lesson about the manufacture of madness.

Nope.

Flash forward to today, with people at the stations, filling as many containers as they can muster, (including plastic bags,) with gasoline.

Now, the thing about gasoline is, unlike toilet paper, it doesn’t have a shelf life. It’s kind of like a lazy teenager or a columnist with too much time on their hands. If you let them sit too long, chances are more damage than good is going to be done, and chances are better than good that it really isn’t going to smell very good. Yet, here people are, on the basis of conjecture and rumor, doing their outright best to once again break a supply chain, and manufacture some more madness.

And on a side note, those of you who filled plastic bags with gasoline, what was your end game? How did you plan to pour it into your gas tank? Where were you going to store it? And most importantly, have you recently found yourselves in the presence of a maple tree and a length of rope? (Listen to the voice of experience. Don’t tie one end of the rope to the tree and …)

Common sense tells us if things are scarce, we should ration. Irrational, mindless greed tells us if things are scarce, we should hoard. Manufactured madness always leads to irrational, mindless greed.

It would seem that twice in the span of two years, way too many people in America tied one end of a length of rope to a tree and the other to the back belt loop of their brand-new jeans, and they took off on a dead run. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, considering the rabbit hole nature of things these days.

Up is down, good is bad, and people are fighting for their inalienable right to be as ignorant, and/or outright stupid as they wish, without a single thought as to the consequences of what they’re doing.

Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.

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