Monday, March 16, 2015

Fueling Speculation

I'm confused. I mean, I know I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. If I were, I would be sodomizing you from my office on Wall Street. But I drive a bus. Could this be the reason I am unable to puzzle out how cheap gas could be bad for the economy?

Despite the inroads made by electric cars, hybrids and more-efficient internal combustion engines, we remain a nation quite literally over an (oil) barrel. Be it getting to work, distributing consumer goods or taking the kids to soccer practice, we use gas. Lots of it. We can't function without it.

So when gas prices rise, its impact, combined with stagnant wages, is significant. A larger and larger portion of our income is devoted to fuel, leaving less and less for everything else. While this is wildly and exorbitantly wonderful for our oil companies, it is not so good for the rest of us.

And yet, after gas prices have steadily fallen for months, certain entities are propagating the idea that low gas prices not only impact the bottom lines of Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon, but are injurious to the economy as a whole.

How can it be that something which frees up billions of dollars, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed little dollars ready, willing and able to make their acquaintance with the remainder of the economy, be bad?

The answer is it can't.

Now, I've already indicated that I know as much about economics as House Republicans do about foreign policy, but I know for damn sure that cheap gas is better than expensive gas.

Rather than asking whether cheap gas is bad or good for the economy, perhaps a better question would be for whose economy is cheap gas harmful?

I think we already know.

Ripping a page from the Republican fear-mongering manual, industry trade associations are preying upon the fears of a citizenry recently out from under the dark cloud of a brutal recession, itching to impart the idea that low gas prices are a symptom of an economy about to go belly up.

The economy may well do exactly that, but you paying $2.49 per gallon of unleaded won't be the reason.

This falls right in line with previous industry explanations for price increases, shortages and other disruptions. It's the ____________ driving season. The threat of violence in ____________. And my favorite: a refinery is closed for maintenance.

Remarkable hardly describes the gluttony and manipulation oil companies, which receive billions in government subsidies (that's right--we pay them to look for the oil that we, well, pay for), feel entitled in foisting upon we the people. 

If you remain unconvinced, or are of the mind that Obama's Cheap Gas is reckless, destructive and a road to incipient socialism, I've included the addresses of our largest oil companies below.

Feel free to send them the difference between the per gallon price you paid today and the amount you feel guarantees a strong economy.

As for me, I'm ripping a page from the Who songbook. You know, the one about not getting fooled again.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC
Carel van Bylandtlaan 16, 2596 HR
The Hague, The Netherlands

Exxon Mobil Corporation
5959 Las Colinas Blvd
Irving, TX, 75039 United States

British Petroleum Company PLC
International Headquarters
1 St James's Square
London, SW1Y 4PD

Chevron Corporation
6001 Bollinger Canyon Rd.
San Ramon, CA, 94583 United States

Total SA
2 Place Jean Millier
Courbevoie, Hauts De Seine, 92400 France

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