Admitting ignorance

Paso RoblesAugust 4, 2013 

In his Aug. 1 letter, Jim Griffin clings to the myth that higher gas prices result from price fixing, and he calls for the government to nationalize “big oil, big banks and other huge corporations and industries that control our economic lives.” Mr. Griffin’s passionate condemnation of “the corporatist plutocratic oligarchy” shows that he hasn’t the faintest idea of how our economy works.

“Big Oil” is one of the most heavily regulated industries both in the United States and other Western economies. Any price fixing by “Big Oil” would be a conspiracy necessarily involving thousands of individuals. Yet, investigations in the United States and abroad, which always follow on the heels of politicians bashing “Big Oil” after gas prices go up, have invariably shown that “Big Oil” does not fix prices.

The price at the pump is a singular result of very complicated processes. Of course, when people get upset about price increases, it’s intellectually a lot easier to vent against some grand price-fixing conspiracy than to understand the complexity of reality. Calling for nationalization, i.e. putting full control of major industries in the hands of politicians, is then just a loud admission of ignorance.

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