It would not be a surprise if, after the four years of the George W. Bush administration are analyzed, the profits of energy producing and distribution companies are the greatest in history. And it should not be a surprise, when one considers that the Bush administration consists primarily of energy executives, and an argument can be made that that administration is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the petroleum industry.
With all the concerns over “terrorism” and the war on Iraq, the American public has presumably long forgotten the huge scandal of Enron, with the corrupt executive Ken Lay, who was in regular personal telephone contact with President Bush as his empire crumbled into ruins. Enron crashed and burned, but only after a tremendous, unparallel gouging of California energy users and other consumers around the nation. The producers and distributors of electricity, many of whom use natural gas as fuel, were the first to “soak” the public during the Bush administration. Subsequent investigations have revealed a devious strategy of energy companies in manipulating energy prices by “manufacturing” unnecessary energy shortages and outages. California residents will long remember a summer of phased, intentional blackouts and brownouts across the state, along with obscene increases in electrical rates in California, where electricity rates were already among the highest in the nation on a per kilowatt/hr. basis.
And how quickly the public seems to have forgotten with the events of 9/11 and the fabricated fears of Iraqi threats to the security of the U.S.!
And now, we look at gasoline prices and actually see them coming down a bit. But the overall average price of gasoline for the American consumer under the Bush administration has to be the highest average in U.S. history. The manipulations and machinations of the Bush administration had to play a critical role in driving gasoline prices up, even independent of the price of crude oil. The media seemingly never analyzes in detail and simply accepts the explanations of industry that the price of gasoline at the pump is “market driven”. For some reason, the pundits and reporters of the American media never seem to notice how quickly prices go up, and how long they stay up for gasoline when any war or threat to international stability occurs. Yet, even when international relations have begun to stabilize, and even when crude oil prices have dropped, the last thing to drop is the cost of gasoline at the pump. The producers and distributors are fast to raise prices (and profits) and exceedingly slow to lower both.
And, once again, the non-thinking public and press pay at the pump, perhaps complaining a little, but not enough to change the behaviors of industry.
It has become apparent that energy producers and distributors have devised a “threshold” approach to pricing. They raise prices, not based on cost or market values per se, but based on greed in combination with market factors. They raise prices as high as they can until they provoke a strong response of pained consumers. This threshold is duly noted, and the price remains high at that level for some time. When the price goes down, it rarely goes down to prior levels, but the fact that the price goes down at all relieves the “pain” threshold for consumers. Thus, on average, the price of energy continues to slowly rise, keeping maximum profits for producers and distributors. And the dumb public actually feels better when the prices go down, because they fail to consider what the price should be based on market or distribution costs. So, the trick is to ratchet up the prices till pain occurs, and then when the price is slightly lowered, but still higher than before, the consumers become more tranquil and the wealthy corporations reap their windfall profits.
It is no wonder that the Bush administration is working full speed to develop all energy all the time in all possible locations. Wherever there is petroleum, gas, crude oil, coal–bed methane, or other fuel sources, the Bush administration is hot to make profits abound for its friends in industry. Alaska, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Wyoming, other Central Asian and Caspian Sea areas, Afghanistan — the whole world is a big peach tree ripe for the picking by the Bush administration and its coordinated approaches of military, diplomacy, and commerce departments.
The American public is easily distracted and totally distracted from considering this situation. The media is distracted as well.
So, today when gasoline came down to $1.87 per gallon in Sonoma County, the public felt good! Well, it is lower than $2.15 per gallon, and that is all the public sees. And that is all the Bush administration wants it to see.
The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.