© Bill Lemmond (Actually, you're welcome to download and share these web-resolution images, and you probably won't be happy with printing them.)

Pizza from Scratch presents Dismal Science Swamp, cartoon 155

25 September, 2008

Peter tries to explain fuel prices.

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Okay, now I see I got a few lines wrong. Some should go behind, and don't. Others should go in front and don't. I couldn't fit in "Bigger oil drums and $s mean more of them." This one was a LOT of work, and I was very tired, toward the end. This one took days. No, that's wrong. I remember now: the sketches went back at least a year. And it was still tough. It takes more work to make something look simple. I hope I worked enough.

I really am just trying to help people feel ... less bad ... about the price of fuel. For decades, I've listened to people complain about it, and never heard anyone explain what's going on the way basic economics describes it.

Over the years, I've seen one cartoonist after another create polished, professional-looking, but cliche and misleading cartoons on the same theme: "Held up [at gunpoint] at the pump." There will be a driver standing next to his car, with his hands up. There will be a fuel hose standing up by itself, pointing its trigger nozzle at the driver.

Cartoons like that are what people expect. They play to what most people already believe. And they get people riled up. There are times to rile people up. Wall Street and DC putting the national economy in a ditch when they know better, just because it served their own short-term interests: that's a just cause to get riled up. But most people give up on reaching the public, saying it's too complicated and boring.

Well, that's one of the reasons we get in the same kind of big trouble, over and over. I say we can't afford not to try and reach people. So that's why I drew this cartoon, and tried to explain one of the most important things that goes on around us, all the time.

I've tried to make it fun. I hoped people would at least not give up after ten seconds and throw it away, but would set it aside, maybe stick it up on a wall, and look at it later. Please let me know what you think. I don't care if you're nice about it, I just want you to be as specific as you can. "It sucks!" or "It makes my head hurt!" don't tell me how to do it better, next time. And if it didn't reach you, there needs to be a next time.

Here is my email: lemmondwp@vcu.edu. Sorry, I can't look up how to create an email link, right now.

Either we start understanding what's really going on, or people who do know will continue to manipulate the rest of us, for their gain, at our expense. For instance, we'll be so fed up, we won't pay attention when some real shenanigans are going on. Fuel prices can be manipulated for a few months, and have been used to try to swing national elections. Yet it's expensive. If they jack up the price of fuel, they lose overall in sales. If they push the price down, they have to eat the uncovered costs.

The big picture really is China and India finally being able to buy the oil they want, and they're going to be wanting more. Their economies are still growing, and fast. So fuel prices will probably never be as low as they used to be. Just remember there's no one doing it to you on purpose. It's just people, who make you look well-off, finally beginning to get what the developed world takes for granted.

As much as I wish otherwise, I know if you read all this, you're a rare person. If you have questions, please ask. If you don't ask me, please ask someone with some training - who doesn't have a vested interest in one side or another. If you think you understood all this, please try to reach others. You know how important it is. And thanks.