I returned home very late last night after several days visiting midwestern universities with my son. On the way, I noticed that gas prices along my Syracuse-Watertown-Canton route had fallen since we left, in some cases by several cents. Falling gas prices always lead me to wonder how those who think high gas prices are the product of "greedy oil companies and gas stations" explain falling gas prices.
If one really believes rising prices are the product of greed, then it seems to me that one must also therefore believe that falling prices are the product of altruism. Thus, the explanation for the turnaround in gas prices in the last week or so must be because oil companies and station operators have had a psychological conversion experience! Suddenly, they have all become (at the same time no less!) much less greedy and much more willing to give consumers a break, right?
Of course this is nonsense, but it does pose a challenge for the Greed Theorists: if they are not inclined to accept the Mass Psychological Conversion Experience theory of falling gas prices because they are totally convinced that oil companies and station owners are, in fact, Greedy Bastards, then it can't be the case that greedy behavior is uniquely problematic. Sometimes it causes prices to rise, sometimes it causes them to fall. If so, then it's not a very good way to explain what causes prices to move. Maybe, just maybe, it's something else.... oh say like supply and demand even. And maybe, just maybe, self-interest can sometimes, if not frequently, produce good results.
Nah, it can't be that, can it?