Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gasoline prices and "emotional satisfaction"

The Emotional Obfuscation of Gas Prices. That was going to be my title for this post, because the truth of the situation is actually very simple. However, the truth isn't always "emotionally satisfying", which is why it's not being addressed honestly. Economist Thomas Sowell explains:

Too "Complex"?
[...] Is there anything complex about the fact that with two countries-- India and China-- having rapid economic growth, and with combined populations 8 times that of the United States, they are creating an increased demand for the world's oil supply?

The problem is not that supply and demand is such a complex explanation. The problem is that supply and demand is not an emotionally satisfying explanation. For that, you need melodrama, heroes and villains.


If corporate "greed" is the explanation for high gasoline prices, why are the government's taxes not an even bigger sign of "greed" on the part of politicians-- since taxes add more to the price of gasoline than oil company profits do?

Whatever the merits or demerits of Senator John McCain's proposal to temporarily suspend the federal taxes on gasoline, it would certainly lower the price more than confiscating all the oil companies' profits.

But it would not be as emotionally satisfying.

Senator Barack Obama clearly understands people's emotional needs and how to meet them. He wants to raise taxes on oil companies.

How that will get us more oil or lower the price of gasoline is a problem that can be left for economists to puzzle over. A politician's problem is how to get more votes-- and one of the most effective ways of doing that is to be a hero who will save us from the villains. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) I'm not against emotions, but they need to be held in check with reasoning and facts. We have both a reasoning nature and an emotional nature for a reason. Balance. Politicians who rely on emotion as their primary appeal would sabotage debate in favor of feelings.

Feelings that are not based on facts can lead to highly destructive consequences. In addressing our energy needs realistically, we need more than emotional manipulation. We need to open our eyes and have a reality check. It would benefit us to do so not just regarding gas prices, but for the whole of the presidential debate. Less emotions, more facts. Reality, please. Too much is at stake.

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