Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The grease that lubes the political machine

Oil's been charging upward for the last couple of years, with prices going to almost $80/barrel. The price of gas has been going apeshit, with regular as high as $1.20/litre in this area. But in the last month or so oil prices have dropped and today were down to $59/barrel, That's the lowest it's been in a year, and the price of gas is spiralling downward with it to under $1/litre.

Generally oil prices fluctuate in inverse proportion to geopolitical stability, especially in the world's oil-producing nations. So it must be all the calm and stability in the Middle East that's lowered oil prices? Democracy on the march in Iraq? Nuclear-free Iran? Heh. Obviously the middle east, and the whole world for that matter, is more dangerous and unstable than ever thanks to George W and his pals. The final word on that came last week from his own intelligence people. Given the current conditions, oil should be about $600/barrel.

But none of that matters in an election year. Cheap gas means happy voters. Happy voters are the kind who vote for incumbents, in this case house republicans. It's hard to know what kind of machinations are behind it, but if the government can lower the price of oil just for political benefit, then it's a lot more malleable than we're led to believe. It begs the question: why can't they just keep it low? Or at least a little less ridiculous than it's been for the last 2 years? The answer is that they probably can, but that would take the political value out of it. And to this administration, it's unthinkable to do something that's actually good for the voters, rather than just a tactic to manipulate them.