Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Perfect Storm

Here comes another cosmic convergence of many sorts of stupidity, greed, demagoguery, and malevolence. Congress is heavily involved (I say, at the risk of redundancy). You'd think there was an election coming up or something:
As outlined by the senior GOP leadership aide, the energy package would give taxpayers a $100 rebate, repeal tax incentives for oil companies and allow the Federal Trade Commission to prosecute retailers unlawfully inflating the price of gasoline.
The amount of insanity here beggars one's ability to adequately mock it. Where to begin? Even if we can't make fun of all of it, we must at least "hit the high spots," as they say.

Let's see: a $100 "rebate." Merriam-Webster defines rebate as "a return of a part of a payment." Since this would be coming from our supervisors, the "payment" that is being microscopically returned must be the taxes we've paid to them. That being the case, I wonder: what's the logical connection between being a taxpayer and being a gasoline consumer? Oh, that's right, there isn't any. Unless, of course, a particular kind of tax is being rebated, that being the federal taxes on the sale of gasoline. (That's an interesting notion in itself, given the utter fungibility of the loot the government shakes out of us in its many and varied ways, but let that go for now.) So, our masters will continue to collect gasoline taxes while simultaneously sending us money to pay some of them, sort-of-kind-of; the skies are darkened with crisscrossing dollars, which might seem a little wasteful at first, until you consider that accountants, clerks, and office folk of many sorts need full employment, too. Besides, if our gracious masters decided to simply suspend the collection of federal gasoline taxes for a while, that would not only be far too simple -- it would also bring up the awkward necessity of reimposing the taxes, which might tend to cancel all that spaniel-like good will that we'll all have for our generous masters. Couldn't do that, at least not close to an election ... and we're never more than two years from an election. So that's out.

And, under the GOP proposal, the feds would be "allowed" to prosecute retailers who "unlawfully inflate" the price of gasoline. Wait a minute. If there is some way of inflating gas prices that's "unlawful," why are our masters waiting? Why would they need new legislation to allow themselves to prosecute violations of existing law? And what would (or does) constitute an unlawful inflation of the price of a commodity? Oh, Grand Old Republican Party, wasn't it supposed to be those eee-villlll Democrats who were always cranking up the "politics of envy" by which the mobs were to be mobilized against the heroic businessman? Where'd all the "gouging" talk come from?

We're all supposed to get exercised about the accursed price-gougers right about now. Why, they're the reason we've got $3 gas, without a hurricane! What you're not supposed to think about, under any circumstances, is the fact that the world's oil markets are driven, to a large extent, by what goes on in the Middle East, and the Middle East is currently Dubya's Magic War Playground. And The Slow One, having taken down what used to be a pretty good oil exporter -- Iraq -- now has the sights set squarely on another big oil exporter whose name is spelled almost the same. Don't even think about that. Just watch the mailbox for that $100 check, drawn from your grandchildren's credit account.


Craig said...

O lordy you better hope Andrew doesn't read this, he's an expert at such matters don'tcha know?

Okay I'm being petty, sorry about that.

Gas isn't getting any cheaper, ever again. There might be a tick up and down ten-cents or so, but that's all. If anything we're going up. I've accepted this as a fact.

I think it's funny when I hear someone say it's because there isn't enough refinery capacity, and that's the fault of "the environmentalists." Because they hold such sway I guess.

Lee Raymond himself has said that Exxon doesn't want to build any more refineries, it costs too much money. They're happy just updating the infrastructure they have.

Bartleby said...

Oh, I don't have to worry about Andrew ... I don't think he comes slumming around here. I don't do nearly enough Ugly-Ass Photoshopping for Imbeciles.

I don't have any idea, really, how the U.S. stands in terms of domestic refining capacity. I tend to agree with you that we're not likely to see significantly cheaper gasoline prices again, simply because Asian demand is growing and supplies aren't ... although I do think a good bit of the current spike is inspired by GeeDub's tough talk about Iran. I do tend to think that additional refining capacity, more-aggressinve oil exploration, demand-side conservation, and work on energy alternatives are all encouraged by high prices; expenditures and efforts that aren't attractive when gas costs $1.50 a gallon start looking a lot more practical at $5. So, barring something outstandingly, spectacularly stupid from BushCo, I sort of expect a new and somewhat-stable price equilibrium with gasoline selling for some price in the lower-to-mid $3 range. Time will tell, no doubt.