Another conspiracy?

Clearly we face another conspiracy this Memorial Day weekend. Once again the nasty big oil companies have manipulated gasoline prices. So they can rip us off at the pump and pocket obscene profits.

Gollee gee, you did not see any such headlines this year did you? This is because gasoline prices did not shoot up as the holiday weekend approached. In fact, they remained about where they were, across the country.  In some areas they went down.

Remember the last time gas prices shot up? The oil company haters told us big oil manipulated prices. Big oil companies were simply gouging us when they felt like it.  Big oil companies were willing to let us suffer the high prices so they could stuff their coffers with profits.

Remember when the politicians trooped oil company executives before the cameras for their hearings? Remember when they accused them of leading the pillage of the consumer?  Remember when they belittled their explanations?  Remember when they chastised them for their profits?



Where are the critics now? They have moved on to the next fake crisis. Our problem was not that oil companies manipulates prices. It was that oil-haters manipulated consumers.

Meanwhile gas prices have settled down. And oil company profits have tumbled.  For the last six months Exxon-Mobil profits have slid $10 billion from last year.  Earnings per share fell 25 percent for one quarter, 54 percent for another.

Are those critics happy with this?  They hate to see oil companies make much money. Are they delighted that oil company profits are down? For some reason we don’t hear much from them these days.

Those falling oil profits cause oil stock prices to go down. They will also cause stock dividends to go down. These declines hit 401k investments. They hit pension fund investments. They hit the endowment investments of your local library and churches and charities.

Meanwhile, back at the conspiracy headquarters the critics have filed away their attacks on big oil companies.  They will pull them out again whenever gas prices shoot upward.  They will keep the myth alive.

And the public will forget. It will forget that if oil companies could manipulate prices so easily they would jack up prices right now. They would force us to buy gas at $4 a gallon this weekend. They would hardly stand by and let so many billions of dollars of profits slip through their fingers, would they?

The oil company haters regularly tell us the earth is running out of oil and natural gas.  This is another myth that needs to be stoked from time to time to keep it alive.

You know enough about supply and demand to know that if we are truly running out of something its price will go up. If we are running out of oil, then, its price should be skyrocketing year after year.

It is not.  It went up because of the reckless gambling of a lot of speculators.  Clearly these birds gambled in oil and natural gas futures over the last few years.  They made tons of money and lost tons of money. What they were doing did not have much to do with the amount of oil in the world.

OPEC does manipulate the supply of oil to some extent. Without OPEC the vast amounts of oil available would push its price down far below where it is today.

Meanwhile, the price you pay for gasoline today is about what folks were paying for gas in 1959.  That is in prices that are adjusted for inflation. (They should be adjusted.  In 1959, the median family income in America was $5700 per year.)

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                   

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

 

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