We think it, therefore it is.
Far from an economist, I learned quickly in college that value is subjective and that the entire economy is based on a mass hallucination.
The one economics class I took, one of ideas and not numbers, explained that people as a whole believe the economy is strong and so it is, believe that it is weak and so it correspondingly is. The same is true for parts of the economy.
As a gas-guzzling nation, we believe gasoline is worth $2?$2.10?$2.20? and the price follows accordingly.
When members of OPEC merely speak of the possibility of lowering oil production immediately the price of a barrel of oil gurgles up and the price of a gallon of gasoline tacks on a few more cents.
This, when the oil sitting in the same barrel as it was yesterday and the gas underground at the gas station is the same gas.
Oil production continues without any interruption, but the thought of production being lowered drives the price up.
A representative from OPEC doesn't come to the neighborhood gas station and ask for additional money on the gas that was already purchased before the possibility of lowered production was mentioned.
If oil prices rise at the mention of an OPEC oil cutback, then why is it that prices don't fall when OPEC, as they did only days ago, talks of increasing production.
The reason is that the demand remains steady at higher prices, and consumers give a nod of approval to the prices.
Gas prices are a problem when we lean against the car numb as the numbers on the pump whirl in a blur, but not a problem when we gallivant and wander around burning the gas.
Driving back home to Louisiana this past weekend, I noticed a couple of gas stations that removed the numbers from their towering price signs, a sign that prices were changing too fast for them to repeatedly update.
And among the soaring prices and incessant complaining from the public, certainly myself included, we continue to make weekend trips, we continue to circle the parking lot in search of an ideal spot and we continue to avoid carpools and public transportation like the plague.
We often want lower gas prices without the work of lowering gas prices.
OPEC sets the amount of oil production for many oil rich nations, but we as consumers set the demand for that oil.
A collective conscience believes that a gallon of gas is worth half of a paycheck and so it is.
Consumers continue to say "yes" to these prices by sticking that pump into the gas tank.
It goes back to the basic economics of supply and demand.
Grumbling and complaining (trust me, I've done plenty) about taking out a loan to fill up the tank does little when we continue to fill ?er up.
With ease we point the finger of one hand at the Middle East and members of OPEC, while we pump gas with the other hand. As with many things there is enough blame to go around, and we deserve our fair share as well.
Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.