Elephant? What Elephant?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

In The Week Magazine, they often excerpt the opinions of the most well-known pundits around the country on a single issue. A few weeks ago, the issue was gas prices. There were quotes from famous pundits from NationalReview.com, NationalJournal.com, The New York Times, The Post, Mother Jones, and The Washington Post.

Lots of talk about the cause of high gas prices. But not one word about OPEC!

Have you ever been to a family gathering where people talk about everything except the trumpeting elephant in the middle of the room?

OPEC is a large enough cartel that its output determines the world price of oil. If they agree among each other to lower their collective production, oil becomes scarce on the world market and prices rise. When discussing the rising price of oil, it would be understandable if every once in awhile someone didn't mention OPEC. But for all of them to talk about everything but OPEC seems surreal.

I'm sure there are many reasons why such an obvious cause is not being addressed, but one of these days we're going to have to come out and say it. I've been wondering why all these well-informed and well-respected pundits did not mention OPEC or the Open Fuel Standard. Here are some possibilities:

1. Oil companies advertise in newspapers and magazines. I know of at least one direct intervention by an oil company to block public knowledge of an alternative fuel (read about it here). So I suppose it's possible this is happening routinely, and any stories that might mention the bare facts of the issue might not make it into print.

2. Oil companies have also spent a lot of money publicizing information about alternative fuels that makes it appear unattractive or unworthy of considering, and perhaps they've done such a good job trying to complicate and confuse the issue that these pundits really and truly have no idea OPEC is the wizard behind the curtain.

I'm sure there are more possibilities. What do you think?


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