According to financial experts (as reported on the U-B business page April 6) the current high gas prices are caused by "cockroaches" gambling that higher gas prices will make them richer, similar to the speculation that destroyed the housing market a few years ago. What are our politicians doing about that?
On her website, Sen. Patty Murray talks about "protecting consumers from unfair energy market manipulation." Cathy McMorris-Rodgers talks about creating an energy policy that includes "more of everything," which I assume doesn't mean "more profits for speculators," as she also advocates for lower energy prices.
Only Sen. Maria Cantwell has tried to change the laws that allow cockroaches in Wall Street suits to get rich while undermining the U.S. economy. (This is beyond gouging at the pump; this is about buying oil futures contracts, which often increase the price for a barrel of oil - and the profits for the speculator.)
In the McClatchy News Service article, one expert, Michael Greenberger (former federal regulator on the Commodities Future Trading Commission) suggests a strong Justice Department probe to intimidate the speculators and scatter the cockroaches. Such a step may work for the short term, but we need to do more.
Unfortunately, as the article noted, the courts stymied the CFTC when it tried to limit the number of futures contracts anyone can buy. But the article didn't mention that since at least 2009, Greenberger, along with the coalition Americans for Financial Reform, has supported legislation to broaden the CFTC's jurisdiction, as well as other measures to stabilize the market and protect the American consumer.
In a recent AFP press release, Greenberger said: "This is not a supply/demand problem. It is a gambling problem. Congress must close down the Wall Street casinos which are unnecessarily inflating the price of gas and it must do so quickly."
With that urgency in mind, I call on all our Washington state legislators - not just Maria Cantwell - to work to change the laws, not just investigate the situation.
As Rep. Rosa Delauro of Connecticut said recently: "We are here to represent American consumers, not oil speculators. We need to ensure that the CFTC has the resources to do its job and is doing it, and we should be strengthening its ability to combat ramped speculation, not working to undermine it."