Are oil prices too high?

I would like a reporter to stop me in the street and ask me what I think about the price of petrol, child abuse, salaries of politicians, corporate executives and crime rates. I also would like to know what idiot makes up the questions and for what purpose.

Is there anyone on this planet, apart from Opec and the petrol companies who doesn’t think that the price of petrol is too high? Well, that was the question posed to people in the street in today’s edition of that glorious newspaper, “The Courier-Mail”. “Do you think you are paying too much for petrol this week?” Guess what the answers were! Yes, the price is too high, especially at vacation time.

All five members of the public agreed with one another, apparently. Perhaps that’s not quite correct, though, because we only have the reporter’s choice of respondents. It’s possible that there was someone who thought that prices were not too high and indeed should be higher. I can hear you mutter “Yeah right”.

Had I been asked I would have demanded to know why the prices aren’t higher still. Why do we pay so little for petrol when those Opec countries are patently in desperate need of money. I would have told the reporter that no matter how high prices soar we will still insist on driving around the corner in our petrol guzzlers. We will still buy S.U.V’s to shop at the local mall.

“Too high for what?” would be my reply. I would ask the reporter: “Why do newspapers waste their time asking stupid questions whose answers are so predictable? What makes them think that this is a survey that offers any benefit to readers?”

Ask any consumer whether prices of any item are too high, the answer will always be yes. When the same question was asked years ago, the reply was outrage that oil should cost, say, $20 a barrel.

Why ask a question about salaries of politicians when the average Joe thinks that politicians deserve no pay at all? My question would be “If you were a politician would you like to work for nothing?” Let’s see how many respondents would want lower salaries for politicians in that instance.

Is there too much crime these days? Please Mr Journalist, ask me that question? Make my day!

So why do newspapers do this? In my opinion, it’s a way of torturing an unpopular journalist. Send him out in the field among the helots to ask the most ridiculous questions.

It could very well be a rite of passage for a journalism cadet. If he can put up with this sort of crap, perhaps he really is serious about his career choice.

People like to see their photo in the paper, so this sort of silly questionnaire panders to vanity as well. Ordinary folk are stopped in the street, asked for their considered opinion and then get their photo taken. They will then have to buy the paper to see if they made it into print. Could increase circulation in a dying medium.

There is always the obvious explanation for gratuitous interviews. Newspapers want to fill up space that has not been used up by advertising.

Can you imagine the staff meeting at the editorial level during which possible questions of the day are juggled? “Petrol prices. Oh yes, we haven’t done that one for a couple of months. OK young Mr Fleet St, go out into the world and see what suckers you can approach? And it’s no use protesting, cause we all had to do it on our way up. Now make sure that you don’t approach smartarses like Lili Gans. Avoid her like the plague!”

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