Thursday, September 28, 2006

Misleading title, sad information

This article media hit-job (snicker) has some interesting implications:

The average retail price of gasoline nationwide is now 2.38 dollars per gallon (3.8 liters), the lowest since March 2006. Oil prices, meanwhile, have fallen by more than 20 percent since July, when prices topped 78 dollars a barrel.

The Automobile Association of America (AAA), said a gallon of gas one year ago cost 2.80 dollars, while in early September 2005, average gas prices were 3.06 dollars per gallon.

Bush seems to be a major beneficiary of the lighter public mood -- whether or not cheaper gas is the cause.

In a Los Angeles Times poll last week, his approval rating rose from 41 percent in late June to 44 percent.

Conversely, some of Bush's worst poll numbers came in May and June, hovering in the low 30s -- at the very time when gas prices were peaking.

Analyst Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service told the USA Today newspaper last week that gas prices will drop an additional 10 to 20 cents a gallon by Election Day -- offering further cheer to Bush and fellow Republicans.
Yadda yadda, repeating ourselves, Bush's approval linked to gas prices. Ok, that's been covered. Next? Time for the AP to repeat conspiracy theories! And the really sad thing? That makes up the bulk of the article. Its a stealth job, slipped in there in front of the real news. Its not even mentioned in the headline, which reads "Falling US gas prices boost Bush poll numbers".

Read it.
Some Americans are suspicious that recent steep declines in gasoline prices might be the result of political manipulation, since the savings at the gas pump come just weeks before critical midterm US elections.

Earlier this year, news of record oil profits led many US consumers to believe that energy companies had deliberately kept prices artificially high to improve their bottom line.

Now gas prices have fallen for several consecutive weeks, and recent polls show that consumers have a new suspicion -- that the price break is meant to give a boost to a US president and Republican Congress who had fallen out of favor with voters.
So what's the article really about? I mean, they devote at least as much time to the conspiracy nutters as they do to official "point" of the article. I was prepared to write off the whole thing as a fairly typical AP reporting-on-the-fringe as if it were mainstream, until I read this:
A USA Today/Gallup poll last week found that 42 percent of the roughly 1,000 adults surveyed across the United States believed President George W. Bush's administration had "deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this falls elections."
Then I wanted to cry. Granted, this doesn't mean that 42 percent of Americans believe that -- just 420. But the fact that they even got that many to agree with that statement completely backs up my contentions that folks in this country just don't understand economics. I'd love to try to have those 420 people explain to me, with any kind of backup, just how a president would go about fixing gas prices short of an executive order (thanks Nixon).

I'll be prepared for some spluttering, a few "ExxonMobil," "price gouging," and at least one "obscene profit".

3 comments:

Matt said...

You're absolutely right. No one understands economics, but I don't think that's what makes people think there might be a political connection. Republicans are associated with aggresively defending the rights of oil companies to do whatever they please. They give obscenely enormous tax breaks and grants to major oil companies that are seeing record high gross profits at the SAME TIME. It just doesn't look good, so it's understandable that people tend to lean towards the simpler, border-line conspiracy explanation for gas prices that drop so fast and so suddenely, immediately before a mid-term election with Republicans worried that they may be in trouble of losing some seats in the house and senate. (GOP power certainly benefits oil company profits)

k2aggie07 said...

Okay, rationalize it however you want -- you don't hear people theorizing that democrats caused 9/11 or hurricane Katrina to hurt Bush, both of which being equally implausible as Bush fixing gas prices.

All the conspiracies seem to come from the left these days. I just think its funny / sad.

Matt said...

I didn't say it was a left or right thing, you did. Nobody from the right could ever be that paranoid right? Thinking that the end of the world is imminent isn't a completely implausible thing to think. That the anti-christ is going to take over the UN, that all the loyal christians are going to be "raptured" into heaven in the blink of an eye... that's not at all implausible. I think that's pretty funny/sad, and that's a third of your vote.