February 10, 2004

Pretty Pennies

PRI's Marketplace started off this evening with host David Brown saying that he was lucky because he topped off his tank last night at $1.99 a gallon and this morning gas was $2.07 a gallon. Wow! Conservatively, I'll speculate that Mr. Brown might have saved as much as $0.80 overall, since he was only topping off his tank and, of course, we just know that's he's driving some fuel efficient minicar rather than a big SUV with a couple of 20-gallon tanks -- I mean, he is a host on PRI's Marketplace after all. Assuming that he won't fill up for, say, 4 days, that would mean that Mr. Brown has saved himself $0.20 a day for each of the next four days!

Now, what's funny to me is that Mr. Brown probably spent $4.00 buying a cup of coffee this morning, and yet he considers himself lucky that he saved $0.20 on gas today. But what bugs me is that Mr. Brown then wastes his time and mine talking about it as what I can only assume his producer considered a clever seque into OPEC's decision to cut production. While I have no doubt that when aggregated to the national level, the rise in the price of gasoline has enormous effects and implications, at the individual level this is beyond meaningless. Not that I have come to expect sophisticated market analysis from Mr. Brown, the show's title and the imprimatur of Public Radio International notwithstanding. For a program with a name derived from the most basic element of the free market they show an unyieldingly consistent hostility to capitalism. But then again, if Mr. Brown truly believed in capitalism, he probably wouldn't be working at PRI.

Posted by Charles Austin at February 10, 2004 08:50 PM