It was not given much publicity, but the Department of Energy has now come to the conclusion that the greatest amount of energy lost in this country is caused by heat escaping from people's heads.
The original discovery was made by a Washington lawyer, named David E. Weisman, when he noticed his brother-in-law, who never wore a hat, complained he was always cold. Then one Sunday, during halftime of a particularly bitter Redskins game, Weisman actually saw steam escaping from his brother-in-law's ears!
He put two and two toghether and reported his observations to ERDA, the research arm of the Department of Energy. The research people had suspected that heat was escaping showed an appreciable energy loss depending on the size and shape of each rat's head.
Encouraged, they proceeded to test from people's bodies, but up until then no one had thought the loss was going out of their heads.
So the researchers dressed up rats in warm clothing, but left their heads uncovered. Then they placed them in refrigerators. Sure enough the tests volunteer energy department employees. The data were confirmed. A pointy-headed person lost 10 per cent of his body heat when he did not wear a hat, and a flat-headed person lost 20 per cent. Also, volunteers with hair managed to be more insulated from the cold than those who were going bald.
Once all the results were in, they were turned over to the Department of Energy's policy committee. After making an environmental impact study, the committee recommended new legislation that would assure the conservation of America's body heat.
The first recommendation was that a new law be passed requiring every American to wear a hat. Knowing that this might put a burden on many bald people, the committee suggested that as an incentive, a tax credit be given to each bald person who purchased a new hat. The credit would be limited to the purchase of one hat per person, with not more than four deducations per family.
The third suggestion was that the President wear a hat at all his press conferences and state dinners to set an example for the rest of the country.
These recommendations were sent up to the Secretary of Energy, James Schlesinger, who immediately ordered his lobbyists on Hill to add them to the energy bill.
Unfortunately, the hat manufactureres' lobbyists got wind of the new legislation and immediately went to work sabotaging it. They testified that they had no objection to making everyone in the United States wear a hat. But they attacked the tax credit plan, maintaining that the money set aside for rebates to bald people should go instead for the exploration of new felt.
They also demanded complete deregulation on the price of new hat bands. As one lobbyist put it, "Unless we get $2.25 per cubic yard for our hat bands we will be unable to find new sources of domestic material to supply all the head gear that will be needed this winter."
To complicate matters the shoe industry got into the act and said they should also get tax credits for conserving energy. "If we didn't make shoes," one of their lobbyists said, "body heat now rising from people's heads would escape out of their toes."
Despite the intensive lobbying pressures, an administration spokesman said he was optimistic that Congress, in its wisdom, would keep a lid on the price of hats, rather than overheat the economy. And he predicted that if both the House and Senate kept working at their present pace, everyone in the country would be wearing a warm hat by July.