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Ignorance Is Bliss

Yesterday a 55 gallon barrel of crude oil was worth less than 1 gallon of gasoline.

Have you ever noticed that when crude prices go up, gas at the pump goes up immediately, and usually much more than crude prices? And when they go down, as they have lately, gas prices hardly budge?

When members of the media question oil executives about this, their responses come from the same hymnal. “We don’t dictate prices – the market does.” What this means is that there is a system in place that guarantees profit to oil companies and shareholders, at the expense of consumers.

“And now, breaking news from the stock market!”

In the Great Depression of the 1930’s the stock market lost 80% of its value. In the Great Recession of 2007-2009, the S&P lost about 50% of its value. As of the middle of April, the coronavirus market is down about 15%.

In the New York Times, Matt Phillips writes, “It’s no overstatement to say the market is the most highly valued it has been in almost two decades, just as the country plummets into what’s expected to be the deepest recession since the Great Depression.”

I’m evidently missing something – something big.

Off-the-charts unemployment, which is just getting started, must not mean what I think it means.

When I walk through my town and see 80% of the businesses closed, with no clear reopen date, I guess that’s not a big deal.

When every day I see more storefronts with “available” signs, evidently I shouldn’t worry. I sincerely hope that I’m ignorant, and things are going to be better than they seem.

What I’m afraid we’re witnessing on a monumental scale is the same thing we see with gasoline prices: a system designed to guarantee money for the privileged few, at the expense of the many.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I lost some sleep thinking about the nightmare scenario of a Trump vs. Sanders election. I’m not a fan of either of them. But maybe Bernie and Andrew Yang have a point about needing radical change in our economy.

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