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sábado, mayo 03, 2008

El Presidente Repeals Law Of Supply And Demand

This past week we were all treated to a proposed executive repeal of the venerable Law of Supply and Demand by McCain and Clinton. Today, not to be undone, El Presidente made it clear that they were too late, he had already issued an executive order nullifying the Law of Supply and Demand. And by golly, he was going to take credit for that.

According to Bloomberg:
Hillary Clinton and John McCain are both pushing a ``gas-tax holiday'' to give consumers an 18.4- cent-a-gallon price break. Clinton says the plan will take excess profits from oil companies. McCain says it will help families buy school supplies.

Economists have a different take: They say the oil companies may end up the biggest beneficiaries, while the aid to families wouldn't be enough to buy a $35 backpack.

The trouble with the plan, they say, is that oil prices are rising because of low supplies, and companies will continue to charge the average $3.60 a gallon and just pocket the money that would have gone to federal taxes.
And this doesn't even mention that old bugaboo, the Law of Supply and Demand, which holds that decreasing price usually stimulates consumption. This is that Law: If a bottle of beer was $2 and now it's $1, wouldn't you consider having 2 instead of one? So the proposal, supposedly decreasing the price, would lead to greater oil consumption and then, uh oh, higher prices.

Fortunately, Barack Obama called bullshit on the proposal:
Slamming Clinton’s support for the gas tax holiday, [Obama] accused her of pandering to voters instead of offering a real solution to the energy problem.

“In a moment of candor, her advisers actually admitted that it wouldn’t have much of an effect on gas prices. But, they said, it’s a great political issue for Senator Clinton. So this is not about getting you through the summer, it’s about getting elected,” Obama argued. “This is what passes for leadership in Washington, phony ideas, calculated to win elections instead of actually solving problems.”

Obama said that a Clinton has deployed a surrogate, who is also lobbyist for Shell Oil, to pitch the gas tax holiday to voters. “It’s a shell game, literally,” Obama said. Some economists have said that the gas tax holiday may increase profits for the oil companies, as demand may rise with the reduction in price. The campaign said Obama was referring to Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist for Shell Oil and a Clinton supporter.
2 points for a pun to Obama. And this doesn't even begin to touch the repeated calls on Righwing Talk Radio for a reduction not only of the federal gas tax, but also the state gas taxes. This might add up in New York to the munificent sum of $40 cents per gallon, enough to reduce the price of regular gas from $3.65 to $3.20, reducing the price of a usual 15 gallon fill up from about $54.75 to $48.00, a saving of precisely $6.75 per fill up. Whoop de F*ckin doo. I bet that will buy a lot of stuff. I bet that will really relieve your budget pressure. And let's completely omit that the Treasury needs the money from these taxes to build highways and roads. Where is that going to come from?

Not to be undone by the arrant stupidity of the gas tax proposals, the MBA-in-chief today pointed out in his weekly radio address that the candidates were too late to repeal the Law of Supply and Demand. Way too late. El Presidente had already done it by fiat, and he intended to take full credit for it and its consequences. In his weekly massage El Presidente explained:
U.S. President George W. Bush sought to assure Americans on Saturday that federal checks en route to them as part of a stimulus plan will help spur the ailing economy and pay for soaring gas and food prices.

"These rebates will deliver up to $600 per person, $1,200 per couple, and $300 per child," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"This package will help American families increase their purchasing power and help offset the high prices that we're seeing at the gas pump and the grocery store," Bush said, adding it would also provide tax incentives for business to invest and create jobs.
First, when a plunderer Rethuglican says "for business to invest and create jobs" you can invariably translate that language as "increase profits." It's only if the shareholders aren't too demanding for cash that there's going to be any investment, and only if there's investment can there be job creation. This is Rethuglican talk, after all. It means the money might trickle down. But not necessarily. Don't hold your breath.

"Offset" is the term El Presidente used that's most intriguing, most worth thinking about. "Offset" is maybe an accounting term, but, alas, it's not an economics term. There is no such thing as "offset." If I receive $600 from El Presidente, and I spend it on gasoline this increases demand for gasoline, and voila! eventually increases prices. If I receive $600 from El Presidente, and I spent it at Wal-mart, that increases revenues to Wal-mart, which will use the increased funds to hoard profits or maybe stimulate production of junky plastic things in China. The money will flow to shareholders' pockets or maybe to China.

How, you might wish to ask, does increasing gas consumption and driving prices higher "offset" anything? Doesn't that, in fact, make things worse? A whole lot worse by fueling and continuing the current spiral?

Now you're getting it. If somebody arrived from another planet and looked at what's going on with these proposals, s/he would think, "Oh, they're just finding ways of putting more dollars in the pockets of the big capitalists. And they're marketing that to the plebians as if it were a balm for their economic woes." That would be about right.

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