Monday, July 14, 2008

Economics 101 for Congress

Via Betsy Newmark, the New Hampshire Union Leader has a good idea:
MAYBE THE quickest way to lower oil and gas prices would be this: Immediately enroll every Democratic member of Congress in an entry-level economics class.

The lack of even a basic grasp of economic concepts has led Democrats to oppose sensible policies that would begin to lower oil and gas prices. Instead, they push hair-brained ideas that make no sense.

Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen howls incessantly about speculators. She claims that speculators trading on electronic exchanges and overseas are driving up the price of oil and if only we cracked down on them the price would fall.

But here is what Walter Lukken, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said about that idea last week: "We haven't evidence that speculators are broadly driving these prices."

To the extent that futures trading is increasing prices, the major culprits are not unregulated traders, as Shaheen keeps saying. The real problem is that with demand continuing to outstrip supply, traders see no end to rising prices. The value of a barrel of oil today stays high because traders believe it will be more valuable in the future.
Says Betsy herself:
Gosh, isn't it a lovely vision of all these politicians trying to convince their Econ teacher that their loony ideas make any economic sense and then receiving back their failing grades?

At least with the situation we're facing now with energy prices, it does seem as if the majority of the public is not buying the standard demagogic complaints blaming those evil oil companies and speculators. Recent polls have shown that the public understands that increasing the supply, even if we won't see the new oil for a while, is still the best way to address high prices.
Not a bad idea, but I want the grades to be made public.

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