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Hot Gas

On my drive to school yesterday I saw a person outside the gas station on my way to the I-490 giving away/selling? bumper stickers. Among the panoply of choices included a “Romney-Gekko 2012” selection, another touting, “The Problem is Corporate Greed,” and another touting, “Oil Speculators Raise Gas by 60%,” and another, “Your Need to Speed Helps Feed Big Oil Greed,” and “Oil Companies SUCK My Wallet Dry,” … there were others, including some even chiming in on the Limbaugh-Fluke affair, “This Slut Votes!” and some of the typical, “Imagine Whirled Peas,” and the like.

The gas pump at the Exxon said $4.19 per gallon, so of course all of these are right – evil oil company greed. And even worse, it’s probably caused by evil oil speculators and perhaps other nefarious stuff.

But then take a look at this chart, reminded to me by glancing at the heating bill a few days ago:

In other words, natural gas prices are as low today as they were nearly 20 years ago, and at $1.94 per million BTUs of energy cost 1/5 of what they did when the new millenium started. Where are all the bumper stickers? We here at the UnbrokenWindow understand that greed is always around us, not generally increasing or decreasing with the stage of the business cycle. We also understand that it is as “greedy” to pursue profits by having the price for your product fall as it is “greedy” to do the same thing with high prices.

But what we at the UnbrokenWindow do not understand is whether folks know that some famous oil companies also operate natural gas companies. Doesn’t that at least give any of the anti-Gekko’s a headache?

6 Responses to “Hot Gas”

  1. I think that the problem is deeper than that. One of the reasons that I moved to Austin was the entrepreneurship I saw here versus the entitlement philosophy of Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan. We have beggars in the median, here, too, but we have people selling bottles of water, too. The thing is, though, that such incomes are marginal. Now it is true that it is better to make a dollar than not, but the other side of the coin is what else you could be doing. I thought of street peddling during South by Southwest, but I was already working for $10 an hour (3 pm to 11) and could not get up the energy to make much less much earlier in the day. And that speaks to the bumper stickers.

    The collectivist gets a great deal of psychological satisfaction from unprofitable proselytizing. Most conservatives, libertarians, or objectivists know better. That also speaks to organizing. Why can we not organize a worldwide Galt Strike to bring down our oppressors? Because it would take a worldwide organization which is outside the perception of an indvidualist. By definition.

    Maybe I am wrong. There might be a large untapped market in pro-market advertising media. I think that most pro-market people see the world differently than the anti-market people. The pro-market drivers at the gas station might very well agree with the message, but not want to spend the money announcing it because they do not care who agrees with them… again, being more individualist by nature…

    Tragedy of the private, you might say.

  2. Speedmaster says:

    When someone tells me that a corporation or person is wealthy simply due to “greed,” I sometimes ask them if I too can become wealthy by simply becoming more greedy. I rarely get a coherent answer.

  3. chuck martel says:

    Maybe falling natural gas prices are the harbinger of Krugman’s deflationary liquidity trap. The Fed should probably buy natural gas to keep the price up.

  4. Harry says:

    Gordon Gekko is Mchael Douglass’s idea of capitalism, similar to Tom Cruzes’, similar to L. Ron Hubbard’s, but let’s get off the ad hominem arguments and agree that Gordon Gekko is a straw man: OK, he reminds me of Geithner and Corzine, but just because they are Machivellian egotists, we should not attack them for their weaknesses.

    It does take a lot of gall to make bumper stickers blaming Exxon for making a mess of energy prices, given the left’s unrelenting effort to make energy prices more expensive. They want every molecule of carbon to stay in the ground, same as Ted Kazynski, who murdered dissidents, another ad hominem argument against Ted, but hardly a good argument for his screwy theory.

    Michael, Chuck, and Wintercow are too young to remember first-hand the creation of the DOE under Jimmy Carter. The DOE adopted price controls for oil and gas producers, to prevent Oklahomans and Texans from reaping unconscionable windfall profits from the wells they owned: there was “new” gas and oil, and “old”. At the time natural gas was selling for more than $8/mcf.

    The plan, was a disaster, with gasoline lines in Maryland and Illinois, but not in North Carolina or Oklahoma. Jimmy Carter lost, Reagan deregulated, and crude and gas prices dropped like a stone. Inflation, which impends now fiercely, vanished. Opportunities for investment became brighter than any of us had seen, or may ever see in a lifetime.

    Huge discoveries of cheap natural gas are no less momentous than the discovery of gold in California in 1849; maybe better, since you cannot make fertilizer or heat houses with gold. Bet one of those bumper stickers was anti-fracking, and yes there are ways to dispose of the salt water. As opposed to Goldwater, the best bumper sticker.

  5. Michael says:

    The thing about Gekko is that he got people to believe our system is built on greed. It should be emphasized that our system is built on trust.
    Also, I ran gas prices adjusting for inflation; probably the cheapest natural gas prices ever.

  6. Harry says:

    Michael, what a great comment! Even though this string is embedded in Rizzo’s archives, you get my Benjamin Franklin Award.

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