Stop Speculation Now – Black on Black Thought

Here\'s what I think at the pump

This is part of the bi-weekly Black on Black Thought feature.

Guess what? Gas is expensive. Expensive gas impacts almost everything in Americans’ day-to-day lives by making almost everything we do or consume more costly. One of the large contributors to the high cost of fuel is speculation, which in simple terms means to buy something you have no purpose for other than to make money off of its unstable price.

Well, the argument against excessive speculation, especially on commodities like oil, has brought together groups of citizens, organizations, and companies that often times are at odds with one another. The Stop Oil Speculation Now effort has caused many to join in a call for smarter, more responsible government regulation and an end to one of the major drivers if high gas prices.

How to stop speculation

The big ways to limit the impact of speculation is to regulate, eliminate loopholes, and increase transparency. This coalition, thankfully, is proposing just that . Specifically, the group is asking for 5 things:

  1. Re-establish strict position limits on energy commodities
  2. Close the London Loophole
  3. Regulate “swap trades”, which are related to the “London Loophole”
  4. Fully close the Enron Loophole
  5. Bring transparency to all energy trading

Is this really the problem?

Speculation, when regulated, is not necessarily evil. However, like most things, when something grows beyond a natural, logical, or sensible balance, it becomes cancerous.

In simple terms, what’s happening is two basic yet sinister phenomena:

  1. Oil companies are artificially driving up the price of their own product by betting on high prices in the futures market.
  2. As a result of #1, we’re getting gouged at the pump [and everywhere else].

Take a look at this video describing “dark markets” that have sprung up, allowing U.S. companies and investment houses to artificially and amorally drive up the cost of commodities like oil. (The most ironic thing is, the ad you’ll see on that video will probably be an ExxonMobil ad. Gotta love capitalists).

As the video and its accompanying article state, this is going on beneath the nose of regulators and beneath the noses of Americans. Why businesses? Because, to put it bluntly, they can. Pit bulls without leashes bite babies.

These types of things can be stopped with sensible energy and economic policies that are sophisticated enough to close loopholes, yet simple enough to be consistent with core principles of fairness and protection against exploitation.

Fool me once?

This is not the first time that gross over-speculation has led to tragedy. Another example was Enron. Remember those rolling blackouts? Yeah, those were neither accidental nor natural. That was just one part of the fallout with regard to Enron, the worst of which was the financial devastation experienced by its employees.

We have to do something about this economic terrorism

There is a larger problem/challenge here, and it is one of national security, national defense, and national pride.

National Security

We have to think about this sort of purposeful, targeted, financially selfish, short-sighted, irresponsible and destructive behavior as what it is: economic terrorism. No, that is not hyperbole, it is calling a spade a spade.

Terrorism can defined as:

Those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.

Unsuspecting Enron employees, innocent-yet-affected citizens, and American consumers are the non-combatants. The ideological goal is wealth at all cost: greed. The fear or terror is the feeling of apprehension we feel every time we think about our financial futures. The way to combat this type of terrorism is by intelligent, preventative regulation, just like the way to combat terrorism in general is intelligent, preventative diplomacy.

National Defense

One of the purposes of the government is to defend our nation and its people. Well, what better to defend against than terrorism?

Stealing from people their financial stability and confidence in the economy is a threat that must be defended against. People have more to be defended against than just bombs.

National Pride

A financially secure citizenry is a proud and enthusiastic citizenry. When businesses, especially American businesses, threaten this security, they are saying that the pride of the country is not a concern of theirs. Such anti-patriotic actions are shameful.

Can I trust this coalition?

When I first read the list of companies that are part of this coalition, I was at first apprehensive. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that in the end, an end to rampant speculation is good for everyone, businesses and consumer.

The large issues that we face impact us all without prejudice. In order to face them, we have to come together for our common, human interests. This can be an example of just that.

One Love. One II.

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

2 responses to “Stop Speculation Now – Black on Black Thought”

  1. Josh Maxwell says :


    I would like to put a link to your site on my blog roll if you want to do the same for mine. It would be a good way to build up both of our readerships.

    thank you.

  2. Garlin II says :

    James’ response to this article is here.

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