When petron was a government owned company, they were able to distort the supply curves because they were in essence the regulatory arm of the government. If the outcry was large enough shell and caltex may increase their prices but petron’s price does not move. What’s interesting in the case of the philippines is that petron was sold to foreign interests and afterwards the oil industry was deregulated. Double whammy to the Filipino people. Our government does not have the balls and probably the manpower to effectively police what is in effect price collusions of oil industry players. The solution is string institutions but I guess that is near impossible for us right now. Buy back petron would be second best with the least amount of complications, although where we are going to get the money, I don’t know. Maybe a few of Pres GMA’s entourage could chip in!
The public option as a signal
Look, it is possible to have universal care without a public option; Switzerland does. But there are some good reasons for the prominence of the public option in our debate.
One is substantive: to have a workable system without the public option, you need to have effective regulation of the insurers. Given the realities of our money-dominated politics, you really have to worry whether that can be done — which is a reason to have a more or less automatic mechanism for disciplining the industry.