Pandering, Politicians, and Oil Prices

Michael Giberson

The Free Dictionary defines pandering as, among other things, “To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses.”

Here is a new example of the common political variant of pandering: The newly organized federal Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group.

Consumers don’t like high gasoline prices and wish somebody would do something about it. Politicians like to be seen as decisive leaders who can get things done for hard-working American families who have already sacrificed so much, blah blah blah. Politicians know that most of what they can do is substance-free showboating, but it will look like they are doing something. Therefore, the OGPFWG.

Tom Fowler, energy reporter for the Houston Chronicle, quotes Craig Pirrong:

“This is a transparently political fishing expedition that insinuates that fraud or manipulation is distorting oil prices without providing even the flimsiest factual basis for such a suspicion,” Pirrong said. “This is part of a broad effort by the administration to deflect criticism with regard to gasoline prices.”

I think Pirrong is giving the OGPFWG too much credit. An actual fishing expedition takes a lot more effort than issuing a press release or two, but that is all we will see from the OGPFWG.

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