I am reacting to watching Bill O'Reilly's coverage last night of the Dem convention. He was bloviating loudly in his inimitable way about four supposed reasons why nobody in their right mind should vote for Obama because they indicate how terribly worse off people are than we were four years ago, the question du jour. The facts in all of these are on their face undeniable, but for most of them there is the simple matter that on Jan. 20, 2009 the trends on them were awful, whereas now they are improving, if not in all cases as fast as we would all like. The four are unemployment, gasoline prices, per capita income, and national debt. However, the one that appeared to have the biggest gap between then and now was gasoline prices, and O'Reilly was particularly bloviatory about it. How could any sane person vote for Obama when gasoline prices have risen from $1.82 per gallon to $3.87 per gallon!?!?!?
Well, that is easy. Prices were $4.11 per gallon on July 7, 2008, higher than now or at any time since or before then (at least in nominal terms; over a century ago they were as a high as the equivalent of $10 per gallon). But then a funny thing happened. Not only was there probably a speculative bubble in oil going on at that time that was peaking out, but we were heading into this massive financial collapse that led to the massive real economic collapse that we were in the middle of when Obama took over. The price of crude oil peaked about then at $147 per barrel, higher than anytime since, and then crashed hard to nearly $30 per barrel by about the end of the year, with an accompanying decline in prices at the pump. Indeed, ironically, the bottom had passed and those prices were going back up again on January 20.
In any case, nobody should take remotely seriously any commentator getting all huffy and puffy about that particular datum in the tale of supposed woe regarding this four year comparison.