Here we go again.
According to the news media, gas prices are at record highs — for February! — and this somehow is cause for panic because even though gas prices have been higher — in August 2008! — it means that they’re gonna be higher in May 2012 … just because!
I mean, good grief. If the news media is pressing the panic button, it must be because they’re tired of talking about vaginas and birth control pills. The funniest thing is watching Newt Gingrich remind everyone what the price of gas was when he was Speaker of the House, which was back in the last century. He then tells us what the price of gas was on Obama’s inauguration day, completely skipping over the roller coaster Bush years, including the record highs of 2008. Yeah, I know Republicans wish the Bush years never happened, join the club! But sorry dude, you can’t.
Nothing angers me more than the malfeasance that is our news media’s coverage of the gas price issue. Most of the time they’ll just shove a microphone in the face of some poor schlub trying to make it into work in the morning and record people complaining about something we’ve always complained about, since forever. Good grief, I remember people complaining about $1 a gallon gasoline, and I’m not that old.
It’s as if the news media has decided to not even bother and explain the issue. It’s just too hard, the poor dears know we idiot Americans can’t possibly comprehend gas prices rising due to things like Iran, China, Greece and increased demand from a stronger economy. So much easier to spread panic, I guess. Why don’t folks like Charlie Rose and Brian Williams actually inform the public? Instead, I watched Charlie Rose this morning let Newt blather on about stuff that has no effect on gas prices whatsoever without doing his fucking job and actually conducting an interview. You know, back in my day an interview involved two people, one asking questions and one answering them. This morning, Rose just basically turned on Newt’s mic, then went to the bathroom with his newspaper and cup of coffee.
As I wrote back in December, America is actually exporting more refined oil product than it’s importing these days. For the first time since 1949. How this makes President Obama anti-domestic energy, I have no idea.
These are the facts but you sure don’t hear the TV newsbots mentioning that. Gas prices are high right now because of global geopolitical conditions that U.S. consumers have very little control over and a strengthening economy which has increased demand. There is nothing magical about this being the month of February, nor is there any guarantee that these conditions will exist in May or June. There is no voodoo surrounding the time of year when gas prices have risen. I remember one Memorial Day weekend when they actually went down.
Here’s a nice little chart showing gas prices in the U.S.:
Every time the roller coaster edges up, the news media pushes the panic button. Frankly, I’m sick of it. It’s lazy, irresponsible, and does not inform the public. Instead, it fosters ignorance and partisanship, because it allows Republican talking points to take hold.
Instead of inciting panic, the news media should be spreading accurate information about why gas prices behave the way they do. That way an informed public could come together and actually agree on some kind of national energy policy enabling the country to weather these inevitable ups and downs over which we have little control.
Here’s an idea from Time’s Bryan Walsh:
In fact, it’s not the price of gas the President should focus on — it’s the effect high gas prices can have on the economy. A more energy-efficient economy — from gas mileage on up — is naturally more resilient to high energy prices. That’s one area the President can help shape — and it’s an area President Obama has found quiet success. The White House has pushed through measures that will mandate significant increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules, which means in the future, American drivers will be better protected against the next big hike in gas prices. And that’s not something one hears often from the Republican presidential field.
We’ll never agree on that more energy-efficient economy, though, because all the new media does is spread the false information that increased drilling somehow leads to lower gas prices at home. It isn’t now, it hasn’t in the past, nor will it in the future.