What Can Presidents Do About Gas Prices?

Not a damn thing (and Republicans agree!). Even if Obama authorized companies, today, to drill anywhere they wanted to, market forces wouldn’t reflect the price drop (if any ever came) for months. Here’s a problem with democracy: voters expect leaders to change parts of the world over which they have no actual control, or somehow achieve directly contradictory goals. Should the President talk tough with Iran, and let you guys suffer high gas prices; or fold like Superman on laundry day, so you don’t have to dip into the vacation fund? Pick a side, we’re at war. The only thing Presidents can do is talk about the issue cleverly. Which, admittedly, Obama isn’t doing.

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11 comments

  1. Let’s focus on the real problem in the world: KOBE BRYANT #StopKobe2012
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    1. I read that the Department of Energy told Congress that the gas prices would go up to get the American people from being dependent on oil. Why is this a secret???????????? No one of the comments that I read even mentioned this statement. So those who blame the administration are on the right track.

      1. Link? Or would I find this document in the same vault as Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate?

        1. Don’t know anything about DOE. Back in ’09 though Obama’s one Republican cabinet member, LaHood, did say something to the effect of “the goal is to coerce people out of cars” in an unscripted response to a question about the reasoning for some initiative in DOT. I don’t know how much of that was Freudian slip and how much was boneheaded use of a word that commonly denotes something besides what he meant for it to. The initiative in question was related to a godawful conglomeration of issues ranging from elderlies who still drive to pedestrian safety to urban planning to the disproportionately large political clout that bicyclists have over state and local governments. So, a whole bundle of shit that does and doesn’t relate to driving to various degrees. Nothing to do with gas prices though. As far as I’m aware.

        2. Ok, apparently Chu had said something to the effect of “higher gas prices good” before he was nominated. That narrative’s been managed recently.

  2. In the long term, snce high gas prices are a symptom of excess demand due to overpopulation the President could quit supporting policies that contribute to overpopulation by reducing mortality rates and extending lifespans. Sensible energy policy would help too.

    Anyway, your comments re: democracy, I’m sure I’ve pointed out before democracy has an implicit and incorrect assumption that the majority of people are decent/intelligent/qualified to have a say in things. Problem is most people aren’t. A non-trivial portion don’t deserve to live at all and most of the rest really don’t have any business being more than helots. Too stupid, too deceived, too ignorant, too malicious, or too selfish. 90% of everything is crap. Humans are no exception.

    1. democracy has an implicit and incorrect assumption that the majority of people are decent/intelligent/qualified to have a say in things

      Damn it, Steve, stop making me agree with you. (Of course, corollary to this is the demonstrated fact that every other system of government is even worse over time.)

      90% of everything is crap. Humans are no exception.

      Sturgeon’s law is kind of assholish that way. Well, probably it’s the universe that’s the asshole, but you know what I mean.

  3. The real problem is that so many people feel so out of control of everything in their lives – especially economically – that they want someone to show overt control of something. Since Republicans are not presently in national power, they can conveniently claim the President isn’t – which is why they all want him to “drill, baby drill” instead of acknowledging that their much revered markets are to blame for this current problem.

  4. The only way to bring down the price of gas is to exterminate the Chinese (and Indian people). Perhaps it sounds radical (and I am joking), but with 8-10% growth per year and millions entering the middle class, the demand for oil has risen, and our ability to pump it out of the ground has not.

    1. Them being Chinese or Indian is not a good way to pick which 2.2 billion, but exterminating that many people globally probably is a good idea.

  5. It needs to be remembered that crude oil is an unusual commodity in that its price is not determined by normal market dynamics alone, because we have OPEC and their production quotas which act as a huge factor in the determination of the price. If they increase the quotas, the supply will increase, and the price will drop. On the other hand, if they reduce the quotas (or even just threaten to), the price will increase. Granted, OPEC’s power isn’t quite as great as it used to be back in the 80’s, now that non-member countries (like Russia) have emerged as significant producers, but it’s still large enough.

    So it’s not entirely correct to say the President can’t do anything about the gas prices, because there is one very specific thing he could do: Convince OPEC (i.e. primarily Saudi Arabia) to increase its production quotas. It might not be a very likely scenario, since OPEC has traditionally been quite resistant to pressure on that point, but it is a possibility.

    Also, as far as China is concerned, they are quite aware that their growing dependence on foreign oil is a considerable economic and strategic weakness for them, which is why they’re spending heavily on new energy technologies in their latest research programmes. So I think there’s very good chance that the next big breakthrough in energy production will come from China.

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