Chinese state media trolls Biden over demand that gas stations lower prices

Anthony Wallace/Pool Photo via AP

Joe Biden’s recent tweet demanding that gas station owners bring down their prices (“and do it now”) went over about as well as you would expect, at least among people who know anything at all about how the oil and gas industry works. Karen already discussed the response it received from people who actually have to operate large businesses. It prompted other reactions as well, ranging from muted snickers to outright amazement at the President’s complete failure to grasp the problem he’s desperately trying to solve ahead of the midterms.

But those were mostly just domestic responses from Americans. Others got in on the act a bit later, including Chen Weihua, a columnist for China Daily, the state-sponsored outlet of China. Rather than disagreeing with Biden’s premise, Weihua went along with it and took it as an opportunity to criticize capitalism. He expressed his hopes that Joe Biden would now realize how “exploitative” capitalism is and presumably embrace communism, where leaders can simply tell businesses what to charge for things and lock them up in reeducation camps if they don’t comply. (NY Post)

President Joe Biden called on “companies running gas stations” to “bring down” their prices Saturday, after a top White House economic adviser said Americans will have to endure financial pain at the pump in order to maintain the “liberal world order.”

In response to Biden’s demand that oil companies lower their prices, the president was trolled by Chinese state media.

“Now US President finally realized that capitalism is all about exploitation. He didn’t believe this before,” wrote Chen Weihua, EU Bureau Chief and columnist for China Daily, an English language media outlet owned by the Chinese Communist Party.

I’m sure that Weihua is fully aware that Joe Biden isn’t about to turn around and embrace communism, or at least not publicly. (Though plenty of his supporters openly embrace socialism.) He probably doesn’t even expect to receive a response from Biden, since doing so might bring up some unpleasant reminders of things having to do with one of the President’s sons.

But since Joe Biden has chosen to trot out yet another accusation against anyone or anything but his own policies as to why gas prices are so high, we should probably set the record straight. I know we’ve touched on this before, but it bears repeating. The vast majority of gas stations in the United States are privately owned, singly or in groups, by local entrepreneurs. Basically, all of the ones you see flying the banner of Chevron or other oil companies are just franchisees. They only make a profit of two or three cents per gallon on the gasoline they sell. (That’s a link from CNN, by the way. Even they get it.) Almost all of their profit comes from selling cigarettes, coffee, sandwiches, snacks, bottled water, and all the rest of the stuff travelers tend to snatch up. And a lot of those goods actually are overpriced. If Biden wants to help us out, he could try ordering the gas stations to charge a bit less for Reeses Cups.

Operating a gas station puts you in the middle of a highly competitive market. Commuters are generally pretty savvy and they keep track of which stations have the best prices, particularly at a time like this when you almost have to take out a mortgage to fill up your tank. If any of them start overcharging for gas, their competitors will undercut them and gut their customer base.

Biden specifically demanded that gas station owners bring down their prices to “reflect the cost you’re paying for the product.” Guess what, Uncle Joe? They’re already doing that. They wouldn’t be in business for a week if they weren’t. The problem isn’t them. The problem is that we have a president who is trying to meddle in the affairs of an industry he truly does not understand.

In closing, I’d like to add one additional thought on Biden’s insistence that high prices are the cost we must pay to “maintain the liberal world order.” Here’s another news flash for you, Mr. President. Plenty of us have already gotten a good, long look at the “liberal world order.” We’ll pass, thanks. Whatever the price tag is, it’s already too high.

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