Thomas Sowell

Prices are like messengers carrying the news of supply and demand. Like other messengers carrying bad news, they face the danger that some people think the answer is to kill the messenger, rather than taking steps to change the news.

The strongest proponents of price controls are the strongest opponents of producing more oil. They say the magic words "alternative energy sources" and we are supposed to swoon -- and certainly not ask any rude questions like "At what cost?"

Then there are the famous "obscene" profits of oil companies. Again, there is no definition and no criterion by which you could tell obscene profits from PG-13 profits or profits rated G.

There is not the slightest interest in how large the investments are that produced those profits. Relative to the vast investments involved, oil company profits do not begin to approach the rate of return received by someone who bought a house in California ten years ago and sells it today.

Oil company executives make big bucks incomes, almost as much as liberal movie stars who are never criticized for "greed." And if Big Oil CEOs worked for nothing, it is unlikely to be enough to bring the price of a gallon of gas down by a nickel.

But facts are not nearly as exciting as rhetoric -- and the role of most political rhetoric is to be a substitute for facts.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate