Dear Mr. O’Reilly:
You’re all lathered up because U.S. oil companies are exporting much of their refined gasoline and heating oil to other countries and thereby putting upward pressure on fuel prices here in America. You conclude that these companies have a moral obligation not to export so much.
Your economics is wrong and your ethics convenient.
First some economics. Selling in the global market encourages firms to build larger factories and refineries that, in turn, enable outputs to be produced at lower costs per unit. So while in the short-run rising exports of oil products can cause fuel prices here to spike, the long-run effect might well be lower prices because of larger, more-efficient scales of operation. Also, more exports of fuel products means more imports of other goods and services. The result is lower prices in America for consumer goods such as clothing and furniture, as well as lower prices of inputs such as steel and industrial machinery used by American factories