President Bush: Pleading for mercy in the desert by Stanley Bing @FortuneMagazine January 15, 2008, 2:21 PM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Our fearless leader is in Saudi Arabia right now, doing a variety of things including, I bet, making sure that the family positioning is well set-up for the days when he is no longer in the best/worst job in the world. His dad does that quite a bit. And, I believe, his brother, too, come to think of it. The whole Bush family is over there all the time, sometimes working for the Carlyle Group, other times just to see the sights, I guess. I don’t know why this is, but I’m sure it’s good for the nation in one way or another. In that vein, I was pleased to see that while he was sunnin’ and funnin’ with the guys who get all the best tables at the hottest lunch spots over there, he took some time to plead with the powers-that-be in the world’s most oil-rich nation to keep the price of crude down. “Oil prices are very high, which is tough on our economy,” Bush said, according to AOL. “I would hope, as OPEC considers different production levels, that they understand that if … one of their biggest consumers’ economy suffers, it will mean less purchases, less oil and gas sold.” This makes a lot of sense to me. If prices go up, people lose their ability to buy more. Demand goes down. This hurts everybody. I don’t know why people haven’t thought of this idea before. Like, in my view, many prices are too high. Why shouldn’t we, the consumer, take a tip from President Bush and politely ask those who control the supply to give us a break? Just a few years ago, for instance, I remember when the most expensive hamburger you could get in New York City was about $80. Now there are places in midtown where you have to spend up to $400 for a small meat patty. True, it is stuffed with foie gras, but still. That’s a lot of money. I think I’m going to go down there tomorrow and ask them to have a heart. It can’t cost them more than twenty bucks to get that puppy onto the plate. Why make it so prohibitive? Stuff like that is almost impossible to put on my expense account, yet I need to impress clients just as much today as I did yesterday. The same can be said of so many things we need to get ahead in this business life. Movies in our hotel rooms, for example. Right now I’m at a boondoggle in the middle of nowhere. Dinner is usually over at, like, 10:00 PM. You get back to your room, you want to have a little entertainment, and the movies are $14.99! Everybody knows you can’t expense movies in your room. They are the one line item that kicks right back to you. You could actually pass the acquisition of a camel through the eye of Finance more easily. That’s fifteen dollars right out of my personal pocket, just to see a movie I fall asleep in the middle of. Tomorrow morning I’m going to march right down and tell the hotel management that if they don’t cut the price for this service, I’m going to stop using it and I’m sure others will too. This gets better and better the more I think about it. Hotel rates. Car services. Shoes, even. The things we need to get ahead in this profession of ours cost a lot, and that’s fair, but enough is enough, right? We stop paying? They stop being able to charge so much. The only small problem I see is that if I refuse to pay their crazy prices, won’t there be people from other economies that are doing better than ours to take up the slack? Like, today Citibank (C) and Merrill (MER) are both getting infusions of money from places like Korea and Kuwait. They seem to have plenty of money over there, for some reason. That crazy restaurant with the insane burger is filled with business people from all over the globe, sucking off of their multi-national corporations. And when it comes to oil, aren’t there other countries that will pay whatever it costs, where the economies are growing faster and the need for oil is just as great? What do you think the Chinese, for instance, will say about higher oil prices? Will they ask for a cost reduction too? Anyhow, thanks, Mr. Bush, for trying. And while we’re at it… could you cut my taxes, please?