There are two competing visions of the social hierarchy:
1. The Elitist View: The people are fools needing to be led by experts.
2. The Populist View: The people have common sense while their leaders are generally fools or knaves or both.
You can guess which one I tend to favor. But recently, I’ve seen some evidence suggesting a third position . . .
3. The “It’s All a Muddle” Theory: The people are prone to conspiracy theories and outrageous nonsense while their leaders fan the flames of folk paranoia just to get ahead.
This third view fits the current energy debate. Every time fuel prices rise, I get inundated with conspiracy theories and cockamamie economics. The current notion? That gas prices are rising because of speculators.
It doesn’t make much economic sense, and it flies in the face of good supply and demand reasons that everyone should know about. But a lot of people buy into the finger-pointing.
And so do our leaders. Senator Barack Obama has called for two departments of the federal government to investigate the influence of speculation on pricing. Senator John McCain has made similar – if less clear – rumblings on the same theme.
Just as the major presidential candidates talk about “change,” they strike the usual politician’s pose – as demagogues.
Look folks, we need middlemen, like futures traders. But we don’t need “muddle men,” like Obama and McCain.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.