“The only people fixing gasoline prices are politicians.”
h/t Kevin D. Williamson in Whither the Gas-Price Conspiracy?:
But that answer [supply&demand] is profoundly unsatisfying to people who do not understand or appreciate the most beautiful and interesting aspect of free markets — that nobody is in charge of them. For these people, somebody somewhere has to be pulling the strings. Never mind the geopolitical situation, never mind the fact that most big oil companies do not even operate retail gas stations (Exxon, for example, does not actually own Exxon-branded stations), that gas stations earn very little money selling gas (soft drinks and cigarettes are where they make their jack), and that the evil rotten Big Oil companies generally make very small profit margins (Exxon makes about 8 cents a gallon on gasoline, less than half of what the federal government collects in taxes on the same gallon), and never mind economic reality: If somebody doesn’t like the price of a gallon of gas, then that price must be unfair and the result of a conspiracy, and if a sufficient number of dopes in elected office believe the same thing, then it must be a crime, too…
In fact, the only halfway successful price-fixers are the politicians themselves: From gasoline to sugar to milk, there are a great many commodities that would be less expensive if not for politicians. And, as noted, they make more money off a gallon of gas than Chevron does, to say nothing of gas-station owners like Raj Bhandari. And who is really profiteering from the issue? Presumably, Dick and Ed are better off as senators than they were in less exalted offices. Strange how many Democrats grow wealthy in “public service.” I’m sure your average Big Oil CEO lives in a nice house; Harry Reid lives at the Ritz. The oil companies make their money providing a useful product; politicians make theirs standing in the way.
But it wasn’t the politicians who brought down gasoline prices, and it wasn’t a conspiracy, either. And it won’t be a conspiracy that sends them up again.