Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Foolish Factor

by Alan Reynolds - Oct 6, 2005 -

Bill O'Reilly, host of the popular Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor," has been preaching to his flock to buy no gas on Sundays. "Let's send a message to these energy people who operate in the shadows," he says. That suggestion should have been saved for a different section of the show, "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."

No matter how many times America proves that a reasonably unfettered economic system based on competition delivers products at a lower cost than any other system, there is always someone who buys into the concept that we are being gouged if the price we are charged is not what we want it to be, right now this minute.

Bill O'Reilly is one of the most appalling examples of "populism" this country has ever produced. I am amused by the people on the left who accuse O'Reilly, who proudly proclaims his support for socialized medicine, of being a conservative. Do you really think that socialized medicine is compatible with conservative principles? How far left on the political spectrum do you think someone must be to see a socialist as a conservative?

The most interesting comment in the article is the following: "Since prices of oil and gasoline have gone down at least as often as they've gone up, over the years, O'Reilly's novel theory of changing prices implies that greed is highly variable, causing oil prices to drop whenever five CEOs are feeling charitable and rise when they're in a cruel mood." The reality that prices have fallen would seem to any intelligent person to completely refute O'Reilly's premise, but he can't see that. I wonder what he would say if you pointed out that during most of the last 20 years the "five CEOs" have been charitable more often than greedy?

The reality is that they are neither charitable nor greedy. Even though the oil industry in America is heavily regulated to the detriment of lowest prices possible, it still has enough elements of free enterprise contained in it that prices here are lower than anywhere else in the world. However if you say that, I am sure O'Reilly will explain the conspiracy under which the "five CEOs" somehow make more money by holding prices down. It is all a conspiracy you know.


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