Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gas Prices Rant

In an earlier post, "Desperately Seeking A Clue," I related my frustration that people claiming the Bush administration (or its nefarious cronies) is manipulating gas prices for electoral purposes. It is just so beyond foolish that it makes me despair for the republic in general.

Driving to Houston, I caught some of the controversy in the Missouri Senate race. Auditor Claire McCaskill - that's Auditor Claire McCaskill, the Democrat in the race, expressly made the claim that the prices are being manipulated. No, she went further. She is apparently on record many times claiming that it's obvious, that all sane people know it, and that the prices will go back up again after the election.

For completely different reasons, the prices will likely go back up sometime. When there is a quick rise, as there was during the past year, market corrections go into effect. People change their behavior and planning. The price was bound to drop. When it drops so rapidly, expect a counter-correction in the other direction. Weather, production, overcorrection, and a dozen other factors have gone into the price drop. It won't last forever.

But how is it that an auditor - I am sorry to keep bringing this up but this woman is an auditor, and she wants to be in the US Senate, and many polls say she's leading - cannot do back-of-a-napkin calculations?

Americans use about 9 gallons of gasoline per week per capita. There are 300,000,000 of us. That 2.7B gallons a week. The price has dropped almost a dollar a gallon. But lets be kind and call it fifty cents. That's $1.3B per week that somebody, somewhere, would be losing if they were trying to drop the price intentionally to manipulate the market. Does anyone in their wildest dreams think that those greedy, scheming oil executives have instituted a plan to quietly make a collective campaign contribution of over a billion dollars a week to the Republicans because they are just so sure they're going to make it all back so nicely? And quickly?

Add in the number of people they would have to persuade or trick into going along with this, none of whom can turn out to be a closet Democrat who will blow the lid off the story, and all of whom would be liable to prosecution and some very serious jail time, and it becomes head-poundingly obvious that this just is just nuts. This is why you need village idiots, to explain things that are so simple that only educated and intelligent people could possibly screw them up.

Auditor. She's a flippin' auditor. And she might become one of the 100 Senators passing legislation that profoundly affects the economy.


bs king said...

I do not question your assertation that this is crap. However, I will suggest that her preying on the thought that this theory will appeal to people could stem from something other than stupidity. It could just as easily stem from the state of politics in our country in which politicians (who I believe by and large are fairly intelligent) say things that they believe will "resonate" rather than real facts. She could either be working the system, or stupid. Her answer to you would probably be to point to record profits at gas companies, and say that they have plenty socked away right now, so they can afford to lose some with the promise of long term gain if the Republicans keep power. The assumption there is that the Democrats will be better for people in general and the big bad oil people won't get their profits for several years, so OF COURSE they'd be willing to sacrifice a couple months. I don't agree with it, but that's most likely what she'd say, and if you don't look past the surface, and you're playing to the general feeling that a lot of people have that somebody's screwing them over. Let me repeat, I think you are correct in your analysis, but since when is politics about actually analyzing the facts? Both parties present facts to the public in ways that make them look better. Both parties try to use the media to repeat a message that will stick with people regardless of the truth. The Onion had a great article about this once that headlined with "Lieberman promises to stop presenting boring facts in speeches". Politicians who explain concepts clearly and concisely with no regard for how it makes their position look may get respect, but not often the vote. It is a sad commentary that obscuring and misrepresting the issue actually works, and IMHO, is probably what's going on there, rather than just a lack of clarity on the concept.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

yeah, playing to the base may be a better explanation. I don't know if I feel better about that, or worse.