Lipstick on a Pig: MSN Money Finds 10 Reasons 'You Should Love $5 Gas'

May 26th, 2011 5:21 PM

Many have noted that homelessness seems to always become a concern for the legacy media when a Republican is president. Similarly, during Democratic administrations, media outlets always seem to find good things about bad economic news (remember "funemployment"?).

The latest such attempt comes from MSN Money, which on Wednesday tallied ten reasons that "you should love $5 gas." While keeping in mind that the media had little interest in pointing these sorts of things out during the 2008 oil price spike, here are the reasons that $5 gas shouldn't get you so upset:

Fewer people would die on the road.

Demand for high-mileage cars could grow.

Shorter security lines [at airports].

Less pollution.

Less congestion.

High prices lead to lower prices.

More exercise.

End of wars.

Local businesses could profit.

It's all about democracy.

Some of those are really a stretch. Not only is MSN looking for ways to put lipstick on this pig, but they're even straining credulity in some of the reasons they offer.

"End of wars," for instance. The logic is that the massive costs of fuel for the military - up to $400 a gallon, apparently - would simply make military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya too expensive to continue. So Americans should be happy that the financial burdens on the military are so great than they can't complete their missions? That's a pretty contestable assertion.

The "local businesses could profit" claim is also premised on some specious logic. "If you can't afford to drive out to Wal-Mart or Home Depot, you may be buying instead at the local supermarket or neighborhood hardware store," claims MSN. Of course virtually all goods-selling businesses are burdened with higher costs by rising fuel prices. The inevitable rise in the cost of the goods themselves leads to fewer purchases. A small business is less able to withstand such shocks than a big box store, and will therefore be disproportionately hurt by them.

"High prices lead to lower prices" assumes that political pressure will spur changes that will bring down prices in the long run, such as opening up more areas for resource exploration. Unfortunately we have an administration in office whose energy policy is apparently to avoid doing anything that might bring down the cost of fossil fuels. That, at least, is what a recent investigation from the House Oversight Committee found.

The last reason ultra-expensive gas should make you happy is a bit puzzling: "If we let up on the gas pedal, we'll starve those oil-rich despots out of existence. Oh, we import as much from Canada as from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela combined." But high gas prices benefit oil-producing countries. And as the author acknowledges, Canada is our largest importer of oil, followed by Mexico. So by this logic, we'll also "starve" our continental allies. Why is that a good thing?

For all of the little benefits this article tries to draw out of a potential financial disaster, the author acknowledges that $5 is still not going to feel like a good thing when you're filling up your tank. It also has the potential to stall an economic recovery.

There's nothing wrong with trying to find a silver lining here, of course, but it just seems that only ever happens when a Democrat is in the White House.