Misconceptions about Gas Prices and the Presidency

Friday, April 06, 2012


With gas prices on the rise, the cost of fuel is set to become a defining issue of the presidential race. Bob speaks to NPR's Planet Money reporter Adam Davidson about how the media haven't done a good job correcting misconceptions about the president's role in rising fuel costs and how the staggering price of gas doesn't really change consumer behavior.


Errors - Tusk

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Adam Davidson

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [6]


Maybe Obama needs to replay the famous (although possibly apocryphal) story of King Canute and the waves as an allegory about presidents and gas prices:

He commanded that his chair should be set on the shore, when the tide began to rise. And then he spoke to the rising sea saying “You are part of my dominion, and the ground that I am seated upon is mine, nor has anyone disobeyed my orders with impunity. Therefore, I order you not to rise onto my land, nor to wet the clothes or body of your Lord.” But the sea carried on rising as usual without any reverence for his person, and soaked his feet and legs. Then he moving away said: “All the inhabitants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, and that none is worthy the name of king but He whose command the heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws.” (translation of Henry of Huntington's Chronicle from http://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/123/Canute%20Waves.htm)

Apr. 09 2012 11:44 PM
Ben from NJ

The problem with assuming that we get upset by high gas prices because it forces us to either drive less or budget for the increased prices does not take into account our relationship with cars and driving. We complain so much about the price of gas precisely because we are unwilling to drive less!

Apr. 08 2012 05:50 PM
Smokey Forester from LES

Bob, the last time I checked, Canada was still a foreign country. Buying from Canada is not domestic oil.

Not that it would help even if we annexed Canada. The oil that is produced in the boom in North Dakota sells at the world price. You can't drive to Fargo and expect to buy $.50/gallon gas.

Apr. 08 2012 12:22 PM
John J. Foster from Hilton, NY

Dear Bob,

Your interview with Adam Davidson on the impact of the cost of gas on voters' attitudes began with the assertion that the average American uses two (2) gallons of gas a week to commute to work.

Doesn’t that seem awfully low?

I believe the average American commute is about fifteen (15) miles each way. Thirty (30) miles a day, times five (5) days, is 150 miles a week. If we average 25 miles per gallon in rush hour traffic, won’t we use closer to six (6) gallons a week to commute, not two (2); triple what Mr. Davidson assumes?

Am I missing something, or were you coyly proving, “what a lousy job [journalists] do explaining the very basics of economics, especially on this gas price issue”?

John Foster

Apr. 07 2012 09:36 PM

Do products magically appear on store shelves or do they have to be transported there by trucks that run on gasoline? Does that effect the price of just about everything eventually?
The "obvious and glaring fact" that a President has little control over gas prices was not so obvious and glaring during the Bush administration, was it?
Didn't the President and his Energy Secretary call for policies that increase energy prices to European levels to force a "green" economy on to the public or are we supposed to forget those quotes and regulations?
Should we "think about China" and their deal with Canada thanks to the President's opposition to the "northern" part of the Keystone Pipeline while he played political games with the southern half of the pipeline that he has little to do with but impresses the credulous media. How about some "deep explaining" about that insult to an ally and the loss of jobs and a dependable flow of fuel for the 21st Century?
""Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." Obama 1/2008
It should not be surprising energy prices have skyrocketed just as it is not surprising the President is shifting blame again with the help of the media...again.

Apr. 07 2012 12:10 PM

"Bob speaks to NPR's Plant Money reporter ..."

Ah, if only ... we could then turn to gardeners for advice on how to grow the economy.

Apr. 06 2012 11:15 PM

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