Before I get into today's bit, I want to fully acknowledge that the title and premise have been iterated more times than you or I can count, that the nakedly obvious reference to the 2006 movie has been made ad nauseam, and that it all tilts dangerously toward cliche.
Now that I've allowed for the groans and eye rolls, here we go...
Biden, telegraphing once again that he's an economic ignoramus, is demanding that gas stations lower their prices in response to decreasing petroleum prices.
Crude oil is now cheaper than it was at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and below its average price across most of Obama's tenure. That's no thanks to Biden - unless we give him "credit" for policies that are tanking the economy (which he deserves) and thus reducing demand for energy. It’s rather obvious that, apart from the blip produced by releasing oil from the Strategic Reserve, this is a demand-driven decrease.
So, why aren’t gas prices dropping as quickly, someone unaware of how things work might be forgiven for asking.
Biden is President, not dog catcher (the jokes write themselves), and has no excuse whatsoever for being unaware of how things work, or for ignoring multiple economic realities. Among them is that gasoline prices lag crude prices, because futures contracts and refinery output/capacity are major elements. But, beyond all that, the accusation aimed at gas stations, the vast majority of which are independently owned (fewer than 1% are owned by Big Oil), and which make just a few pennies on each gallon pumped. It's quite common to find multiple gas stations within sight of each other, even in small towns (the upstate NY town where we own some property, population 1100 or so, has three within spitting distance of each other, and a couple more a mile away), so there is relentless market pressure on the prices they charge. Operators rely on other offerings, such as convenience stores or vehicle service, to actually make a living.
There’s also the fact that gasoline prices are dropping, that the lag isn’t that great, and that people who were paying north of $5 a gallon not that long ago are paying south of $4 now. This makes Biden’s plaint even more hollow.
How could someone who made it to the Presidency be so ignorant?
Here's where I take my earlier pejorative back.
He's not that clueless.
His demand is political theater, and the facts are irrelevant. This bit of finger pointing fits in perfectly with his history of blatantly and repeatedly lying to advance his positions and agenda. He is immune to correction, even from his loyalists, because his lies helped elevate him to the Presidency. Bad behavior, reinforced.
Politics isn't about offering facts or demonstrating literacy in a matter, it's about getting swathes of voters to vote for you. If we look at Biden's snipe at the undeserving from that context, and add in various other factors, it starts to make sense.
What are those other factors?
For starters, basic economics isn't taught to most Americans, and that which is taught is rife with political bias, pitches crackpot theories like MMA, and is promulgated by partisans who think it more important that the "other team" lose than telling simple truths ever could be.
Beyond that, fundamental competence in the three "Rs" is increasingly subordinated to inculcating garbage social engineering ideas into the young, so that they grow up ignorant of the horrors of unchecked statism and reflexively suspicious of liberty (see: hating capitalism and eager to have their lives micromanaged by the Best-and-Brightest) - all while emerging woefully under-educated in the subjects that’d prompt skepticism of such Biden-blather.
Add in the tried-and-true tactic of identifying and personalizing an enemy, deserved or not, as a deflection for one's own failings, and Biden's scolding is now more obviously a political ploy ahead of the mid-terms. As in ‘you shouldn't blame me for high gas prices, because greedy capitalists are the real culprits.’
Hogwash, of course, but "falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it."
Thanks to the Internet and its army of useful idiots spouting misinformed snark at every turn, this old adage has been supercharged. The propagation of mistruths in decades past vs today is akin to a Model T racing a top fuel dragster.
Political animals are not stupid. They'd be unemployed political animals if they were. Blaming gas station owners for price gouging can make great press - just look at the news before, during, and after a hurricane or other natural disaster, no matter that high prices discourage hoarding and ensure that more buyers have access to limited supply.
When the electorate has been failed by the government's education monopoly, when people have not been taught about market forces or informed about how gasoline prices work, and when the press that the target audience is complicit in perpetuating such ignorance, there's even more benefit to such unjust accusations.
The play ahead of the election is to stoke emotions in the less-involved. The team loyalists on the Left don't need convincing to vote Blue, and those on the Right will similarly go out and vote Red. The election is decided by the remainder, and many of them will vote for the incumbents when times are good, based on the simple (but sometimes wrong) premise that good times are primarily the result of the party in charge (see: correlation is not causation), and will vote against them when times are bad. If someone else can be blamed, then those of the incumbents' team who are unhappy can be coaxed into staying in the fold, and if they don't have an educational foundation to doubt or question the whoppers the President and his apologists tell, the tactic is more apt to work.
It's all incredibly cynical, of course, but that doesn't make it wrong. Biden is blaming gas station owners for high prices because it can win some votes for his party, not because he's unaware of economic realities. That he has done dozens of things that have adversely affected oil exploration, drilling, and refining is an inconvenient bit of fact that his water carriers in the press ignore, deflect, and hide, and so the voters he's targeting with this bit of theater remain in the dark.
He, like most progressive politicians, are availing themselves of their educational system’s outcome. That is to say - they’ve dumbed down the masses, and thus made it easier to bamboozle them with bullshit.
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