Sunday, October 08, 2006

Gassing Up

So I think I finally understand it.

"It" being the relative huggamugga about the suddenly-lowered gas prices. Yep, this is the fourth posting on the idea, but the meme that prices are coming down as a result of some conspiracy is strong, such that even the Seattle Times got into the act. And like all the other articles I've been reading, it is a compilation of guesses and coincidences with a definite air of "who benefits?", and ends up with a shrug of the shoulders, like we were discussing the number of licks we need to get to the center of tootsie pop.

I don't understand why prices have been coming down, but I think I do understand why we seem to be paying so much attention to it. And why a lot of people think that there is some sort of conspiracy behind it ("A lot of people" meaning "More people than those who think the President is doing a good job").

The idea is this - there wasn't a lot of fanfare about prices going UP in the media over the past five years - in fact, when mentioned at all, it was in the lines of "Well, of COURSE they're going up, because [Slot in something that just happened in the news]. Now, with the prices coming DOWN, there is a sudden feeling that there was no real reason for them to go UP in the first place. I mean, has the news from oil-producing countries really gotten BETTER of late?

In other words, I think that what is driving this is a feeling from people that they have been had. The huge profits from the oil companies have been posting just fuels this idea. If the market says that gas should be around 2 bucks, then why has it been grazing the 3 buck limit for so long? The idea that there is a conspiracy to lower gas prices now carries with it the nagging suspicion that there was a conspiracy to raise them way back when.

And that is why people are cheesed off. And I think that's also a reason that, after a six-year grind, the DOW has finally gotten above its Clinton-era levels, and people (that is, people who don't live on the Business Page) are not enthusiastic with this development.

But that's just one more theory.

More later,