Wed, May

The High Cost of Gas, and the Higher Cost of Gaslighting


ALPERN AT LARGE - I’ve said it for years now, but it’s been a while: those turning L.A., CA, the U.S. and even the world into a 21st Century dystopian hellhole can be divided into three groups:

They can be classified as TOOLS, FOOLS, and GHOULS.

1) The TOOLS: otherwise known as “useful idiots”, these folks mean very well, give of themselves without remuneration, and are overall good people. They should be both respected and pitied, because they’re being played and exploited. I’ve been and will remain one of them, I’m afraid—I too often tend to volunteer even when it hurts me.

Examples include environmentalists who are being miseducated and played about everything from recycling to climate change, when they’re enriching those actually harming the environment. They might enforce orthodoxy about “follow the science” but may, to their horror, realize that they’ve been lied to years after it’s too late.

Other examples include civil rights and affordable housing advocates who, also to their horror, are empowering race divisionists and overdevelopers who are creating less-affordable housing and making it miserable for individuals and families to leave in comfortable bliss with their neighbors in a sustainable, affordable way of life.

2) The FOOLS: struggling yet poorly educated, if not downright indoctrinated, individuals who are desperate for help, and believe they’ll get something for nothing if they cry and scream loud enough. Arguably, they should be cautioned from voting, or at least question their voting patterns, because they keep empowering those hurting them.

Examples include young individuals and couples overcome with student debt and the high cost of living, who wonder if they can ever afford a home and lifestyle like their parents, and are desperate for some relief. More often than not, they vote for those whose policies raise tuitions, and jack up the cost of living and healthcare.

Other examples include those in the workforce miserable with their insufficient pay and benefits, and will do anything, and vote for anyone, to help their plight (which is very real!). Too often do they support union and business leaders who claim they’ll take care of them…

…and then these union and business leaders “take care of them”, all right! Just not in the way they had hoped. Those proclaiming themselves their saviors get more money and power, while the average Jane/Joe’s purchasing power and standard of living continues to go down, more down, and even more down.

3) The GHOULS: these are the worst kind of cretins, because they know what they’re doing, know who they’re hurting, know what misinformation they are spouting, and know full well that those who they’re exploiting and relying on for votes will be harmed unquestionably in their own lust for power.

In other words, GASLIGHTERS. They promote and enforce policies that most discerning and experienced individuals who were taught to, and adhere to, standards of critical thinking recognize as patently false, or even dangerous. Then the GHOULS get the TOOLS and FOOLS to demonize, cancel, or crush those discerning individuals.

A case in point for some, but probably not all of us—skip the next five paragraphs now if you wish—who want to “get to the point”: 

For those who remember the books or films of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the character of Grima Wormtongue speaking into the ear of the great King Theoden of Rohan, and weakening the king’s character and resolve at the expense of the safety and prosperity of the kingdom, is a prominent example of a GASLIGHTER.

Overcome with grief over the death of his son, King Theoden rejected the pleas of his loving nephew and niece, and those loyal to both him and the kingdom, and was too easily preyed by his “advisor” Grima Wormtongue. This weakness by the king empowered the evil treasonous wizard Saruman, and more of Rohan’s people died.

Then came the good wizard Gandalf, who overcame Grima Wormtongue’s influence, and opened the good King Theoden’s eyes. Saruman’s influence (his greatest power was the ability to influence and hypnotize others to his bidding) was disrupted, Gandalf influenced the king to think for himself and trust those who truly loved him. 

Saruman and his puppet Grima Wormtongue sought to speak to and control others to their will (similar to McCarthyism of the 1950’s and to the woke/cancel culture of today), while Gandalf demanded only that others listen instead to their OWN brain and heart. 

The aged Theoden became strong again in his freethinking independence, and was more than happy to fight and die for the right cause. He died rather happy, and was avenged by those who loved and were loyal to him…while Saruman and Grima were thrown out of power and died in humiliation.

In short, those screaming at us to all fall into line and hear “the” truth and “the” scientific proof are themselves gaslighting us into forgetting that truth and science are always destinations to which the road cannot end. 

Which is by design, because reality is too complicated, and humanity is too simple, for truth or science to be KNOWN or FIGURED OUT by anybody. There is always more than one divergent “truth”, and more than one divergent “scientific proof”. 

Anyone who goes by “the” truth or “the” scientific proof are either being played, or playing the rest of us.

Enter the horrible present day, when there’s an army of very loud and emboldened activists, media, and politicians who are gaslighting the begeezus out of us all…

…but these GHOULS are doing a pretty good job of using the FOOLS and TOOLS to do their bidding, and canceling everyone who doesn’t tow the line.

Ever read Orwell’s 1984? Orwell’s Animal Farm? Huxley’s Brave New World?


How about Golding’s Lord of the Flies? Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?


Didja ever take a Civics class, or any Debate class that allowed more than one side to ardently state their case without presuming there was a “right” or “wrong”?

Probably not for most of us—because if that were the case, then we’d be aghast at the following:

The liberal L.A. Times opines that Bidenomics is over a year old, but yet so few people are celebrating (LINK: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2023-09-04/joe-biden-bidenomics-prices-economy-inflation).

Those fools! How could the nation not in blissful ecstacy at how things are getting better? Employment is UP, clean-energy investments are UP, and stocks are going UP…

…but wait a minute! Stocks are NOT going UP, except for a few large and politically connected tech and other powerful companies. Most of our IRA’s and 401(k)’s and other stock investments are going NOWHERE!

…but wait a minute! Good employment with benefits are NOT going UP, and much of why unemployment is “down” is because of so many of us (yours truly, included, doctor or no) because of INFLATION gobbling up take-home pay and the cost of raising a family faster than any of us can keep up with.

…but wait a minute! Clean-energy investments are NOT usually very cost-effective, are over-reliant on government sponsorship, and usually HURT the environment while enriching those private-plane-flying-billionaires-while-the-rest-of-us-pay-more-to-keep-up-with-their-economically-unsustainable-policies GASLIGHTERS. 

Yep. Again, it’s the GHOULS.

Cost of fuel going up and up and UP (and maybe a little down here to support the GASLIGHTERS’ claims of economic improvement)?

Blame the doubters of President Biden’s Gas-and-Gaslighting “economy”.

Cost of food going up and up and UP?

Blame the doubters of President Biden’s who-cares-about-something-I-have-no-control-over-inflation attitudes and policies. He says it, walks away from those asking questions about it, and tells us his “Inflation Reduction Act” is fixing everything with inflation finally lowering.

Except it’s NOT. Education and health care costs, utility and grocery costs, and the cost of renting or purchasing homes is absolutely runaway with respect to inflation.

Yes, inflation is taking a breather here and there…and then it goes back UP?

But those who raise the cry about it? THEY are the dangerous ones?

There are LOTS of good reasons why former President Donald J. Trump should never step foot back into the White House. 

But if the high cost of Gas and Gaslighting (no, President Biden and his GHOULS in the media and in politics, things are NOT getting better!) isn’t taken into consideration, there’s a very good possibility that the Orange Man will replace Joe Biden in Januaary 2025.

On a final note—getting back to the Tolkienesque analogy—imagine if King Theoden and even the people of Rohan chose to embrace Grima Wormtongue and the hypnotizing words of the evil wizard Saruman, with more and more of Rohan’s peoples dying. And they canceled Gandalf and those who followed him?

Imagine if a media and political machine empowered the Liars and smashed those who dared state what they earnestly thought was the Truth?

Imagine if we allow only ONE Truth or Scientific Proof, to the exclusion of all others.

Welcome to the 21st Century fascist world, and welcome to a new version of totalitarianism that is self-imposed.

Except it DOESN”T come from the “evil” right wing this century, just as it didn’t come from the “evil” right wing last century. 

There is no evil right wing, and frankly there is no right wing period, except in the minds of the FOOLS and TOOLS who keep listening to the GHOULS. 

There is a high cost of Gas going up, and an even higher cost of Gaslighting. 

And we really, really, REALLY don’t have to just “take it” and keep paying for it.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father. He was active for 20 years on the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) as a Board Member focused on Planning and Transportation, and helped lead the grassroots efforts of the Expo Line as well as connecting LAX to MetroRail. His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth, and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)