Friday, October 17, 2014

Gas Prices

There is an eerie silence when the gasoline prices go down.  Most news articles these days concentrate on local changes, but the prices are going down across the county.  According to this source:  “With gas prices in some states already at or slightly below $3 per gallon, the rest of the country could follow suit before the turkey is served on Thanksgiving next month.”  Credit for this is laid at the feet of supply and demand:  a slowing of economic growth in China and other parts of the world along with a greater supply coming from the US due to the use of controversial fracking techniques.  Overall, though, the situation elicits few comments from the media and even less chatter from the community as a whole.

Contrast this with the situation not too long ago when gasoline prices took a dramatic rise.  We heard complaints from friends and neighbors.  There were letters to the editor in local newspapers about the greedy oil companies soaking the little guy to make obscene profits and making accusations of a conspiracy.  News reporters were turning up unusual examples of people trying to decide whether to fill the tank or buy groceries.  Now gas prices are down and you hear hardly a peep out of anyone.  (Is anyone putting aside the extra money, I wonder, to help put food on the table when the prices go back up?)

Here we are right before an election.  If the situation were reversed we would surely hear some politicians telling us about greedy Big Oil getting windfall profits and overpaying their executives, and how, if we elect them, they would institute additional taxes on these profits to give us the feeling of getting a bit of revenge against those who would abuse us in this way.  The greedy speculators in the oil and gas futures market would also get their share of the blame.  Today, with prices moving in the opposite direction, there is only silence.

When the prices go up outside forces have ample opportunity to manipulate us into feeling sorry for ourselves, feeling like victims.  It is such a familiar pattern that many of us now begin to do it to ourselves without any prompting.  But when the prices go down, it’s supply and demand.  Fascinating!

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