MSNBC: Man Avoids 'Sky High Gas Prices' by Riding Horse

     Gas prices got you down? Ride a horse, says MSNBC.

     On a “MSNBC Live,” report on “sky high gas prices” anchor Tamron Hall relayed the story of one man who is using a horse rather than a vehicle, but did not explain some important reasons why prices have soared.

     “The high prices have led … one Tennessee man to find a more fuel efficient way to get around town in Bradley County: The guy is riding a horse,” Hall said on the May 9 broadcast. “It is cheaper to maintain a horse than it is to fill up a gas tank. He says that it costs $150 to $200 a month to ride and feed that pony.”

     “Just when gas prices were going up that’s when I realized that we might bring the 1800s back into today, riding our wagons or whatever,” the man said.

     But the report did not mention two reasons why prices are so high: the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and ethanol production.

     The Balance Sheet pointed out April 23 that in 2005, the U.S. government mandated that biofuels like ethanol be mixed into the nation’s gasoline supply – 4 billion gallons in 2006 with a goal of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.

     The increased demand for corn led farmers to switch to the more profitable crop. As ethanol demand bid up the price of corn, other farmers had to pay more to feed animals, driving up the cost of meat and other animal products such as cheese and milk.

     Also, when farmers switched from growing wheat, soy and other produce to corn, the supply of the other goods dropped, leading to increased prices—a pricey dish for a horse.

     The Business and Media Institute pointed out OPEC’s control of the oil market as a part of a Media Myth March 19.

     Network reporters covered oil companies’ profits 14 times as often as they covered the profits of OPEC – an actual cartel that controls supply and directly affects prices, according to experts like Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation who wrote in June 2005 that OPEC “facilitates” high oil prices.

     Many Americans still remember the cartel’s embargo against the United States in 1973. It caused record prices at the pump and led to gasoline rationing and long lines at service stations. Record prices have returned, but journalists now depict OPEC as a market follower instead of a market manipulator.

     In the last year, OPEC has increased production by only fewer than 3 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, while the per-barrel price of oil has doubled. Increasing production would lower the cost of crude oil by increasing supply to meet demand.

     Members of the media have been going after high gas prices for years, saying consumers have to go to desperate measures to make ends meet.

     A “World News” segment March 17 on ABC warned of economic hardship due to higher gas prices in California but failed to explain why that state's prices were higher to begin with.

     “The Golden State’s economy has sailed into the perfect economic storm,” ABC correspondent Mike Von Fremd said. “The economic slowdown is forcing California to lay off 20,000 teachers, counselors and librarians. Home foreclosure rates in southern California are up more than 80 percent over last year. And making things worse: the highest gasoline prices in the continental U.S., averaging $3.63 a gallon statewide, more than $4 for premium in Silicon Valley."