NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In 2008, then candidate Obama said gas prices were exorbitant because of failed policies. This week he said they were high because of increasing global demand combined with pockets of unrest.I'm not going to dignify either contention with a reasoned response. Here's the point to keep in mind: Neither the administration nor the Congress wants clarity on energy prices. The reason for this is simple. They are too indebted to the financial services industry that is capitalizing on the confusion to do anything about it. Whether this is a sin of omission or commission is too scary to ponder. I'd like to think it's the former, but the gains made by the financial services industry in lobbying sometimes makes me think it could be the latter.
The consequences of submitting to the influence of the financial services lobby are compounded by conflicting political agendas. For instance, Nobel prize winning energy secretary Dr. Steven Chu, in 2008, quipped, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." Oi vey . . . Yes, it's confusing. But as I said, that seems to be the point. The more confusion in energy and or commodity markets, the more volatility. The more volatile these markets are, the more profitable they are for banks and brokerages to trade in them. As their profits grow, the less leverage our politicians have in reigning them in through regulation. So in the end the higher prices we pay at the pump are simply a pernicious tax. As I see it, this tax is funding corporate welfare in the form of higher profits for the financial services industry. And the really slick thing is, it is being collected without ever being officially levied. Very slick indeed.