Today is Oct. 20, 2011. I've just read a short item from Reuters in London about the market price of oil. Brent sweet crude is up to $109/ barrel – up 95 cents today. That is not its high point, but rather an increase after dropping for some time. The reason? Tight supply and demand with winter coming on. This in spite of the fact that Libyan oil exports have increased and Ghadafi has been killed.
One would think oil would drop. But no, oil prices have risen. The explanation? The resumption of oil from Libya and Ghadafi's demise have already been priced into the cost. And Libyan production hasn't hit the market yet, according to one analyst, but the pricing mechanisms are reacting as though it had, and it still seems that the supply / demand ratio is tight. So look for higher gas prices in Europe – at least in the short run. Maybe something will happen on Sunday to help stabilize the prices, but don't count on it. The oil barons make their obscene amounts of money by playing with the oil spigot. Turn it on – turn it off. Raise the price a dime, drop the price a nickel. Raise the price a dime drop the price a nickel. Raise the price a dime, drop the price a nickel.
And on this side of the pond, “...U.S. crude oil was down 8 cents at $86.03 a barrel following a lackluster jobless claims report.” Hmmmm
“Both crude and oil product stocks in the world's biggest oil consumer fell sharply last week as crude imports reached a 10-month low and refineries cut processing rates.” Let me understand this. We imported less oil. Does that mean that our oil reserve is at a high point? One would assume so, but there's no way to tell.
“Refineries cut processing rates.” Why would they do that? Has demand slackened? Is there a glut of gas out there? If so, the rates should come down at the gas pumps, but I don't see it. Not in Minnesota. Yes, there's been a slight drop – perhaps a nickel over the past week, but oil dropped 8 cents in on day. And the last time we had $86 dollar oil, the price of gas was down a lot more. So what is happening? Who is manipulating the price?
It's a kind of Stockholm syndrome I suspect. Raise the price a dime, drop the price a nickel. Raise the price a dime, drop the price a nickel. Raise the price a dime, drop the price a nickel.
For those not familiar with the Stockholm syndrome, here is a quick description.
Stockholm syndrome refers to “the behavior of kidnap victims who, over time, become sympathetic to their captors. The name derives from a 1973 hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. At the end of six days of captivity in a bank, several kidnap victims actually resisted rescue attempts, and afterwards refused to testify against their captors. “
“They weren’t bad people. They let me eat, they let me sleep, they gave me my life”
— A hostage from Flight 847
What causes Stockholm Syndrome? Captives begin to identify with their captors initially as a defensive mechanism, out of fear of violence. Small acts of kindness by the captor are magnified, since finding perspective in a hostage situation is by definition impossible. Rescue attempts are also seen as a threat, since it's likely the captive would be injured during such attempts.
It's important to note that these symptoms occur under tremendous emotional and often physical duress. The behavior is considered a common survival strategy for victims of interpersonal abuse, and has been observed in battered spouses, abused children, prisoners of war, and concentration camp survivors.
Guess who the the conditioned victims are in this oil debacle? Right – you and me. We're fed the line about supply / demand which we swallow. They wouldn't lie about a thing like that would they? Our government protects us from such scurrilous activity, right? Well, maybe it used to. But I don't think so. Not anymore.
We are the abused and battered consumers - the rats in the cage pushing the fuel bar. We're conditioned to paying higher gas prices even as oil supplies rise. And it's not just the oil barons that gouge us. It's the banks, the insurance companies, the multinationals corporations, and the bought and paid for media that manipulates us.
And just like the hostage from Flight 847, we cower in our corners and muttering “They aren't bad people. They give us some gas. They let me drive. They don't take all my money for fuel. I still have some left for food.”
I'm reminded of the poem the “Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot.
“We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried voices, when We whisper together Are quiet and meaningless As wind in dry grass Or rats' feet over broken glass In our dry cellar Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralyzed force, gesture without motion;”
And in the end, the repetition of the chant with the nursery rhyme rhythm” “This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.”