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Do People REALLY Believe that Gasoline Prices are Manipulated by Powerful Elites?

The AP recently reported that

According to a new Gallup poll, 42 percent of respondents agreed with
the statement that the Bush administration “deliberately manipulated
the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall’s
elections.” Fifty-three percent of those surveyed did not believe in
this conspiracy theory, while 5 percent said they had no opinion.

Kenneth Jones, whose letter was published in yesterday’s edition of the Washington Post, is among these 42 percent of Americans.  Mr. Jones wrote:

In his Sept. 24 front-page article, "Both Parties Sensing Tighter
House Races," Dan Balz attributed "a sharp decline in gas prices" as an
example of "good luck" for Republican candidates.

Good luck, my foot. I have been predicting that gas prices will go down to nearly $2 before Nov. 7.

is the oil industry’s way of helping President Bush by removing the
price of gasoline from the Democratic arsenal of complaints against the
Bush administration.

The gasoline prices will go right back up to $2.75-plus after the election. It’s a no-brainer.


Plenty can be said about such a belief.  But I suspect that most of these people, including Mr. Jones, really don’t believe what they claim to believe.  Here’s a letter I sent yesterday to the Washington Post in response to Mr. Jones’s missive:

Dear Editor:

that today’s falling gasoline prices result from a fiendish plot to
keep the GOP in power, Kenneth Jones is certain that "gasoline prices
will go right back up to $2.75-plus after the [November] election"
(Letters, October 2).

If Mr. Jones is correct, he can make a
financial killing.  All he need do is to invest all of his assets going
long in gasoline futures (which are today about 30 percent lower than
they were in late July).  Indeed, he ought even to cash out all the
equity in his house, max out on his credit cards, and borrow heavily
from his brother-in-law so that he can invest as much as possible in
these futures.

He can then contribute his post-election financial bounty to the Democratic National Committee.

Donald J. Boudreaux