Another word on gas and oil prices

Another word on gas and oil prices

The danger of blogs is that discussions can often go off the rails and end up wallowing in minutiae. I have a larger point regarding gas and oil prices that I’m trying to make.

I’m not saying that higher gas prices are not a burden on anyone or that I like seeing an extra five bucks fly out of my wallet when I fill up.

What I am saying is that when we discuss such topics we must be careful to make decisions based on logic and data, not emotion and supposition. Otherwise the solutions we come up with to fix the problem may be no help at all, at best, or actually exacerbate the situation, at worst. If we attack the oil companies when the problem is commodities brokers or OPEC or refining capacity or oil exploration or the like, we haven’t really done anything to fix the situation. The problem is that politicians rarely deal in logic and fact, but instead react to public emotion and supposition. Politicians are more concerned with approval ratings in the next election cycle, and not general economic health in the next year. After all, you can always blame someone else for the bad economy.

The most important key here isn’t just whether gas prices are higher now as a proportion of income or whether the price rise is justified. The important key is that we use our critical faculties to determine the truth and not just swallow whatever propaganda is thrust at us by partisans of any stripe.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
18 comments
  • “Have some understanding that EMOTION when one has to choose between groceries, keeping the lights on or getting to work…is a NATURAL OCCURENCE. It seems you are not in that socio-economic category so youre sympathies seem rather low.”

    This is not a rich/poor thing. Those I see crying the loudest are the SUVS owners, those who drive solo to work, those who drive a half mile to the store…

    Americans have become fat and comfortable with a very easy and materialistic lifestyle, and with higher gas prices that has been upset some. Perhaps some will have to give up going to Starbucks one or two days per week to pay for gas.

    Yes, poorer families will feel the squeeze, but the huff & puff from our politicians is directed at satisfying the angry middle-class, SUV driving horde (who, btw, pay far far more in taxes each year than they do in gasoline. And with driving they can make some lifestyle CHOICES to minimize the impact of higher pump prices.)

  • ” do not understand the lifestyle of the AVERAGE WORKING class American who is struggling on stagnant wages [often under 10 dollars an hour”

    Wilma- I’m not sure the average working class folk is considered someone making $10 per hour (btw, I know and live the working class.) that’s not to say there are a percentage of workers in that bracket, but the outrage being expressed in the media is very vocal from—to use your disparaging term—‘SUV driving middle class yuppies’.

    What is funny for me is listening to congress cry foul over this, including some on the “liberal” end of the spectrum who just a few years ago were calling for higher taxes on gasoline to force Americans to drive less. My local congressman, probably one with the strongest liberal voting record, called for a $5 per gallon tax at the pump. I know of environmental groups that have called for the same…“we need to safe Mother earth.

    How would a $5 per gallon tax benefit the working class?

    “Sometimes you can just tell when someone has never struggled and never had to make that choice between buying medicine, gas or groceries. I find these posts outrageous considering they have been written by self-proclaimed Christians.”

    You are not prophetic in your vision of others, and perhaps you should consider to be a little less judgemental of those you do not know or have not met. Look around you…the American ‘working class is materialistic too” (part of the American dream I guess), driving large vehicles,etc…80% of America is not struggling with a choice between gas vs. food/medicine.

    People, including the working class have some options and choices on what they drive, where they live, how much they drive, etc.

    If one is concerned about the pocket book of the working class, then ask the government to lower the tax burden on them for, at the end of the day, they pay far more in taxes than they do in gasoline.

  • Wilma,

    Have you seen the prices of gas in Europe?  Why do you think we in the U.S. should be paying 25% of what they are paying?

    How do you determine what gas should cost?  Because you can afford it?  What are you using to calculate the current value of a gallon of gas?

    If it is your pain, what about people that felt pain at $2.00/gallon?  Or those that couldn’t afford gas at $1.00/gallon?

    I can’t afford a mercedes.  So I adapt and buy cheaper, used cars.  If I can’t afford gas, I’ll buy a motorcycle, bike or live in a place where I don’t have to drive.

    The reason the gas companies are “raking it in”, is that the demand is high.  If the supply is also high, the only way they can keep the price up is to collude to keep the supply out of the market, and that is a crime.  After ten years of congressional investigations, as well as public, and media scrutiny, no one has found any indication of criminal wrongdoing.

    The point is, that high demand at these prices means that the market can and does support these prices, painful or not.  That’s how the market works.

    And all kinds of good things happen when the demand is high.  For example, it justifies investment into alternative fuels and engine technologies. 

    Thanks you, God, for the market!

    Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t like paying more, I just know that gas is like any business and prices go up and down base upon market factors.  I used to be able to go to Europe and get a hotel for $40.00/night.  Now, if I go to london, it’s $300.00/night.  So I don’t go.  Bummer.

    The European hotel owners aren’t evil for charging 10 times as much as they used to.  And Gas companies aren’t evil for charging 30% more than they used to.

  • You make a good point, DDR. How much should a gallon of gasoline cost? If $3 is too much, what is the “right” amount? And how do determine that?

    Do we let politicians impose a maximum on it? We all know what happens when government starts controlling markets (or we would if we knew anything about economics and history.)

    If $3 is too much, and $2 is just right for me, then what’s to prevent the next guy from saying, “But $2 is too much, I can only afford $1.” If I can arbitrarily set the price to suit my needs, why can’t the next guy?

  • Wilma,

    I have had to make choices between lots of things.  When I couldn’t afford an apartment, I moved in with family or friends.  At that time I didn’t have a car, so to get to college I either hitchhiked or rode my bike.

    For one blessed year, I attended a school and lived on campus so I didn’t even need a car.

    I had a roommate rip me off and I coudn’t afford electricity for a month or two.  I lived in the dark and could only use the gas stove for heat and cooking.

    My father, a school teacher, told me about a 60 minutes report he saw.  It showed these Asian kids in a line that wrapped around a building.  The announcer asked, what could they be waiting for?  A sporting event?  A rock concert?

    No.  It was in Korea, and these were students WAITING for the public library to open, so that they could study.  ON A WEEKEND.

    We are a week, selfish, spoiled and wasteful culture.  Let’s suck it up.  Let’s make more of an effort.  Let’s suffer gracefully.

  • “Around here they seriously are. In fact I have had to help a few with money for medicine. 

    …but people out there are really struggling. “

    No one has said people are not struggling, I help people out too.

    But all the huffing and puffing coming out of congress about high gas prices is not directed at concern for the poor “working class” living at minimum wage.  The large segment of the US that is considered middle-class (yuppies by some), is finding it to be a wee bit more expensive to commute to work solo (our freeways are full of them and working class solo drivers too), to gas up their minivan or SUV for the half mile trip to the store or gym…

    Congress is concern about re-election time. If the were concerned with the working class, I would expect them to offer free fill ups for that segment, be it if gas was $3 per gallon or $0.30 per gallon.

  • You are putting words into other’s people’s mouths and making assumptiosn about motives. You are also making assumptions without providing facts or data to back them up. You have created a straw man with which to argue.

    Thus it makes no sense to continue any sort of debate with you unless you change these tactics.

  • “I know many indoctrinated by Fox News excuse not only oil companies gouging consumers but unfettered immigration and endless outsourcing of jobs.

    Odd that some Americans cheer for the demise of their own country… “

    Wilma, you seem to know a lot about others (I don’t watch Fox News because I don’t own a TV and I have lived the ‘working class” life you are concerned about). Unfortunately, your prophecy about others, their intent and their thoughts are falsed.  I will include you in my prayers. Peace.

  • Wilma,

    None of what you said about me is true, so I won’t even address it.  But I will ask you this:

    What is the alternative, in your mind?

    Remember, XOM is a publically traded company, and the management and board are answerable to the shareholders.  They are in business to make a profit.  So given that, what is your solution?

    And why only the gas industry?  What about housing?  Food?  Medical care?  Clothing?

    We need them all, no?

  • I also find it informative and ironic that you blame Fox News indoctrination for my support for the free market.

    Fox news, other than one or two pundits on Cavuto, is constantly talking about “big oil”, “big bonuses”, “big profits”, “pain at the gas pumps”, etc.

    Sounds like you have bought into some indoctrination yourself.

  • While Wilma cheers for Government controls of markets, she condemns 3rd world living conditions.

    Ever think that 3rd world living conditions might be brought on by Government interference with the market?

    JBP

  • Whoa! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    Oil companies are limiting refining capacity?????

    You HAVE to be kidding!  Hey, that piece of history hasn’t been sucked down the Democrat memory hole yet, Wilma! 

    I’ve seen the democrats fighting refineries for decades now.  And nuclear plants.  And drilling!  Raising taxes on gasoline (consumption tax)…

    No one with half a brain can buy that the democrats have been concerned about the price of gasoline!!!

    BTW:

    Here is an article about the group you are siting:

    “Post Calls Left-Wing Organization a ‘Consumer Group’”

    http://www.freemarketproject.org/news/2005/news20051229.asp

  • “Remember for some of us, high gas prices, really are a hit to the pocketbook.”

    true

    “but God will provide and take care of our needs, gas or no gas”

    Amen

  • (Just to stir this back up after dpt’s Methodisty sounding epitaph)

    God put a melon on each of our shoulders, and gave us the free-will to use the brian inside.  God provides by letting us use our free-will to provide for ourselves and others, not by telling us waving our hands towards some pagan glorification that can be interjected upon our distress.

    Gas prices too high? My advice, -Move closer to town, to work, drive your bike, go make a new type of engine, skip the road trip this year, campaign against restrictions on gas production, go search for fuel yourself- but do not surrender to bad arithmentic, theft and superstition just because of a ramp up in fuel prices.  Use the skills that God has given you to overcome this hurdle rather than cursing others for your own situation.

    JBP

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