Politics: Tar Balls On The Way!

BP.  Call them irresponsible.  Careless.  Vile, greedy, profit-driven, nature-polluting, wildlife-poisoning, blue collar job-killing so-and-so’s.

Strange, but true:  In our struggling-to-get-back-on-its-feet economy, you can also call them job creators.

The beleaguered oil company issued an announcement earlier this month that said their plan is to train more than 4,500 workers in the three states of the Mobile Sector (Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida); of those, 1,600 will be in Florida.

Workers will be deployed to oil-tarnished coastal areas, to “carry materials and supplies, rake debris, and clean rocks and beach areas.”  They won’t deal with wildlife; that’s a job left to specialists to handle.

So who knew that a job with a multi-billion-dollar oil company might involve scrubbing rocks and coral reef?  That’s the odd sight we may come to see off Florida coasts if – and it may be only a matter of time – that brown mess slinks itself into our waters.

But here’s something the obtuse BP probably hasn’t considered:  Somewhere in there a door has been left ajar for an interloper to enter this cleanup scene, one BP probably never expected – that quintessentially Florida animal so endemic to these parts.  That species known as the priceus gougeniean.

The price gouger.

Poor feller.  He’s been MIA these last few years since we’ve gone without a serious hurricane.  Like the deer population that dwindles whenever a drought drains the Everglades to low levels, he’s been hard to find in the recent years when the tropics have been climatically calm.

But just wait.  That may all be about to change.

We haven’t had a hurricane hit us in so long that Floridians’ nasty little penchant for price-gouging their neighbors has grown rather rusty.  There are, I dare venture, South Floridians among us – horror of horrors! – who have forgotten how to price gouge, it’s been so long.

Now, I’m by no means suggesting that it’s a given, but if the price gouger should happen to reappear after this long absence, and return to his usual haunts, here’s one scenario we may expect:

The moment the first oil globules reach our shores here, there’ll likely be a run on all the local hardware supply stores for every bucket, pool skimmer, hose, and sucking device that can be plucked up.  That’s how you’ll recognize the return of the price gouger.  He’ll be the one buying up those items.

When the tar balls begin their assault on the beaches of Normandy – er, South Florida – there’ll be plenty of environmentally-minded citizens wanting to get out there in the wide blue open and do their part to man the defenses!  beat back the enemy!  defend the coast!  People who don’t ordinarily visit the beach might be out there, trying to scoop up crude (gee, if they were only equally eager to scoop up their dog poop).

A few may claim, of course, they’re only doing it for the environment, when perhaps their real motivation is to try to scoop up as much of it as they can, then attempt to enterprisingly sell it back to BP.  But, hey, as long as the crap gets skimmed up, who could bitch, right?

All these do-gooders, however, will need the equipment to effectively clean up the crude.

That’s where the slippery, slimy price gouger comes in.  Knowing their need for the buckets and skimmers, he’ll seize the opportunity to turn around and sell them to willing takers for much more than what he paid.

I also see local pool cleaning firms making a killing:

“Uh, Mrs. Moneybags?  Yeah, this is Jason from Scum Suckers Pool Cleaning.  We’re sorry, ma’am, but we’ll be unable to clean your pool out this week.  We know you have that big garden reception planned for Sunday, but we’re booked solid for the next several weeks at Haulover Beach.  You might have heard about that big oil spill.  Well, we’re involved in the cleanup.  I’m sure you understand – it’s for the environment.”

Affected Louisianans right now are crying in their gumbo.  But just wait when that oil heads our way.  Floridians don’t cry.  Naaah.  They conspire, connive, contrive, and concoct.  That South Florida motto – “Where there’s an opportunity, there are suckers to be scammed and fools to be fleeced.”  The price gouger knows that motto only too well.  He just needs an excuse to come out of hibernation.  Looks like he just might soon get one.

War on poverty.  War on drugs.  War on cancer.

Just once in my lifetime I’d like to hear a president of the United States stand before a joint session of Congress and utter, in Kennedy-esque fashion:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of rendering extinct – once and for all time – the mosquito.”

That’s the war I’d love to see.

This week saw the official end of spring.  Official, that is, for spring actually lasted all of three or so weeks here in South Florida, then was brutally squished like a bug by the stagnant heat and humidity of a summer the official start of which we marked only this week.

Mosquitoes don’t need a calendar, however, and they don’t wait for June or summer.

I wouldn’t mind so much them taking a small bite of me and making off with some of my blood – well, yes I would! – if the thieving bastards only had the courtesy to ask first:

-       Please?

-       No!  HELL, NO!  Go away!  DIE!

These winged vampires must, therefore, be exterminated.  For.  All.  Time.

But drive the mosquito to extinction, Charles?  All mosquitoes?  Sounds impossible.  Surely you jest.

WHY NOT?  Mankind does such a bang-up job at exterminating, endangering, and driving to extinction lots of other species – many innocuous, nonthreatening, and benign, and certainly not nefarious and evil, like a winged vampire (FROM HELL!), buzzing in our ears to deny us a peaceful relaxation or sleep (EVIL INCARNATE!), dispatched to prick our skin (AS IF DISPATCHED BY A DEVIL!) and suck out our blood (DEMONIC FIEND!), and leave behind an itch to be scratched.  Surely we can ply our murderous machinations to a species that deserves extinction and to go the way of the dinosaur.

And I don’t care to hear from the entomologists, biologists, or any other ologist (mosquito apologists?) who might plead:  “Now, now, what of the food chain?”

Screw the food chain!  Any species that currently subsists on the skeeter can evolutionarily adapt, in time, to another dietary staple.  While I appreciate the dragonflies and lizards (our skeeter-devouring friends) that call South Florida home, I’m sure that they’ll have no problem in making a square meal out of some other flying morsel.  Flies, for example.  Fleas.  Gnats.

If we rid the planet of these winged vampires, imagine the lives we would save from that mosquito-borne scourge, malaria.  (According to the humanitarian group Nothing But Nets, malaria causes 350 to 500 million illnesses per year and kills more than one million people, mostly children under five.  It is particularly devastating in Africa, where it is a leading killer of children.  There are ten new cases of malaria every second, and every 30 seconds, an African child dies from it.)

On a lighter note, the other benefit we score is skeeter-free summer picnics, hammock-loungings, and evenings out on the patio furniture.

Have you ever seen two mosquitoes “gettin’ it on” in mid-flight?  I’m only assuming they’re a male and a female, but who am I to say with any certainty that it’s necessarily a hetero hookup?  Might not be!

But what an ethereal joy when the Fickle Finger of Fate (specifically, my finger on the spray nozzle of a can of Raid) intercedes in this romantic tableau, and a squirted mist of insecticide downs the two-some, no doubt at the point when they reach their orgasmic climax.  The two lovers catapult to earth, their post-coital plans (a cigarette?  pillow talk?  an egg-laying?) so rudely – and fatally – interrupted.

How devilously delightful to play Grim Reaper – and to kill two for the price of one!  Plus the additional satisfaction that comes with knowing that you just aborted the procreation of who-knows-how-many hundreds or thousands of more winged vampire larvae!

Go ahead.  Report me to PETA.  They’re probably crazy enough to advocate for the ethical treatment of mosquitoes.  But know this:  I’m not giving up my can of Raid.  You’ll first have to pry it from out of my cold, dead hands.

But I’ll gladly settle for the last living mosquito going the way of the dodo bird.

About Charles Branham-Bailey

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