The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

It was the third “Court of Inquiry” as portrayed in the movie, “A Man For All Seasons”.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer questioned Sir Thomas More who had been imprisoned in The Tower of London for several years as to why he would not sign the “Act of Succession” which Henry VIII had passed through the Parliament.

Sir Thomas would not say why he would not sign the Oath which would affirm his support of the Act.  But in the process of the conversation he makes the following statement:

“My lords, there are some who believe the world is flat; there are others who believe the world is round.  But if the world is flat, will an Act of Parliament make it round?  Or if it is round, will an act of Parliament flatten it?”

In other words, “It is what it is.”

Sound, common sense thinking – and something which President Obama should take to heart.

Two weeks ago the American President gave one of his inflammatory speeches, laying the blame for high gas prices at the feet of “speculators” for driving up the price of this commodity.  To curb this “abuse” he said that the CFTC would be hiring more “investigators” to ferret out these evil-doers.  Bravo, Mr. President – more bloat added to the already overly-bloated Federal bureaucracy – and more voters for you this November.

The economically-brain-dead may buy into the President’s rhetoric – but they already are probably committed to vote for him.  The subject of this post is addressed not to those people but to those who are undecided and would like to make their decision based on facts rather than verbiage.

Once again, President Obama is either completely misinformed or simply dishonest – neither characteristic being attractive in someone who may lead the “Free World”.  Speculators have little if any role to play in driving the price of gasoline higher.  The fault lies squarely at a succession of Presidents and Congresses who have consistently refused to address the issue of developing an American national energy policy for three decades.

President Obama has clearly continued that unfortunate tradition – and his remarks reflect a recognition of the fact that American voters and consumers will consider the price of gasoline as a factor in making their decision about who will lead the country for the four years beginning in 2013.  This policy of dis-information and misinformation is at the heart of an election campaign designed to seek the President’s re-election – not to improve the significant problems which are confronting all Americans.

Although I have never traded oil or gas, I did trade stocks for a living and have some knowledge of how these markets work.  The term “speculator” has serious adverse overtones – (precisely the reason it is used), whereas the term “trader” – a far more neutral term which more accurately describes those who make a market in these and other commodities is ignored by the President.

Traders risk their own capital in order to make a living – much the same as anyone else involved in a small business does.  And the fact is that most of these traders who make a market in oil, gas and other commodities are, indeed, independent small businessmen – depending on their wits to earn a living for themselves and their families.

Traders have no vested interest in whether a particular commodity goes up or down since they can benefit from price movement in either direction.  What they are concerned about is significant price movement rather than price direction – and being able to trade profitably because of that movement.

For well over two months the price of oil, (the underlying commodity that in large measure determines the price you and I pay at the pump for gasoline) has been stagnant – ranging between $100 – $110 a barrel.  Recently, oil broke below this range and is now trading around $97 a barrel.

For someone who traded stocks for a living, let me assure you that this sort of narrow range makes it virtually impossible for the “speculator” to make a decent living – or any living at all.  This is the reality of trading and bears little resemblance to the speech the President offered the country.  Lack of a cohesive energy policy which he has both inherited and perpetuated is at the root cause of our current high prices at the pump.

Mr. President, isn’t it time you stepped up to the plate and took responsibility for your actions or inactions?

Mr. President, the time for casting aspersions on your predecessors is past – and now is the time to make a positive statement and offer a positive difference all of us can support.

Mr. President, don’t you think that the American people deserve better – or are you simply content to leave us with high gas prices and hot air?

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Comments on: "ON GAS PRICES AND HOT AIR" (2)

  1. Those of us who are not citizens of the US have no right to comment on who is best qualified to lead your nation. But we do hope the American people will elect a leader regardless of his political affiliation who will get the country out of the mess it is in now so it can provide effective leadership on the world scene once again.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more – but as citizens of a global economy I believe you have every much right to be concerned about our selection as we should be.

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