Monday, October 31, 2005

Never Say Never

I have seen the future and it is very much like the present, only longer. -- Kehlog Albran

When the petroleum companies celebrated Hurricane Katrina by raising gasoline prices to ridiculous levels, at least until states invoke anti-gouging laws, a co-worker of mine said, “Gas will never go below $2 per gallon again.” Now I don't agree with that for a couple of reasons. Firstly, gasoline was overpriced at 30 cents a gallon in the 1960's. We know that because, even at that price, oil companies were making obscene profits. Supply-and-demand don't apply in a cartel situation.

Secondly, I've heard so many “never” statements that ultimately were false, that I don't give them much credence. Here are a few.

“The prime rate will never go below 10% again.” Remember the heyday of double-digit inflation in the late 1970's and early '80's? The prime went to about 21% or so, which violated usury laws in some states. When they started to fall, my boss at the time made the assertion that they wouldn't fall far. I bet him $10 that they would drop well below 10% eventually. How he expected to win, I don't know, because “never” is a very long time. I guess he thought he would outlive me and collect from my estate. Anyway, I changed jobs not long after that. When interest rates dropped, I sent him a letter about the $10. He never did pay up.

“There will never be a non-Italian Pope.” Conventional wisdom amongst Catholics was that, after centuries of Italian Pontiffs, the tradition had taken such hold that there was no way someone of another nationality would be elected. I wonder if how long it'll take for people to say, “There will never be another Italian Pope.”

“Life will never be the same after 9/11.” Well, airlines are already talking about reducing security, people travel to countries where there are terrorist threats, and terrorists are still blowing things up as they have done for centuries. I haven't noticed any significant change to my life, and, unless you suffered a personal loss in the attack, neither have you. As to those who did suffer the loss of friends and loved ones, you share the same changes faced by people every day who lose husbands, wives, children, and friends to accidents, natural disasters, and wars. That doesn't minimize it. It's just that it was that way before 9/11 and will continue to be that way.

“People will never shop for things on the Internet.” When Amazon was astounding us all by losing remarkable amounts of money while its stock price kept increasing, many pundits were saying that online shopping was a passing fad. Today, polls show that shopping online is the second biggest way people waste time at work on the Internet, after porn surfing, of course.

“Free agency in sports will never work.” I'll admit it. I thought pro sports would collapse as salaries escalated, and competitive teams would dwindle down to a few. Hasn't happened. Professional sports may wither some day, but it'll only be greed or fan boredom that'll do the job, not free agency.

“That record (or whatever sports accomplishment you wish) will never be broken.” All records are made to be broken. Except for the one about the most putouts by a fielder in an inning of baseball. Three is all you can get, so that record can only be tied in perpetuity.

“The Red Sox will never win the World Series again.” “Nuff said.

“The Cubs will never win the World Series again.” Boy, it's a good thing “never” is a long time.

No comments:

Post a Comment