Saturday, February 02, 2008

Obscene Oil Profits - $40+ Billion For Exxon-Mobil

It’s hard to not be shocked by the record profit posted by Exxon-Mobil this week. It is the largest in the history of any US company. $40.6 billion dollars is a lot of money by any standard, and though I have no problem with a company making an honest profit, this figure is obscene.

When people are struggling to make ends meet, charging $3.00 and up a gallon for gas is putting a real hardship on lots of people who have no alternative by to fuel their cars with gasoline in order to get to their jobs.

Back in the late 40’s and 50’s the internal combustion cartel headed by General Motors began buying up the countries Inter-Urban rail systems and other light rail mass transit systems. GM specifically had started a PR push in the pate 1930’s to characterize mass transit as undignified and not family friendly. Their massive Futurama pavilion at both the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs emphasized this tone and today all but a few historic light rail lines remain. The family car became an icon to be aspired to and the only “reasonable” method of transportation.

By buying into the GM dream, Americans became dependant on gasoline, and that worked just fine with the directors of the big corporations who sold petroleum products. Today we are reaping the seeds of that dream. The oil companies are making more money than they had ever imagined, and we poor suckers who call ourselves American’s are stuck with the bill. Deregulation has assured the oil companies that they can continue to charge as much as they wish for gasoline with impunity.

They will point to oil at $100 a barrel and plead that they had no choice but to raise gas prices. The truth is much simpler, they are greedy and by tagging their profits to a percentage of the cost of oil their profits rise as does the price of oil. They know we have no choice but to keep paying whatever they charge, like junkies strung out on heroin, we will pay whatever the pusher wants.

Now our President has even admitted that we need to get off our dependence on foreign oil, but the truth is he and his entire administration are mere lackeys for the oil industry. If you don’t believe this, just try to find out who Dick Cheney consulted when writing national energy policy. The stonewalling betrays the fact that big oil wrote the law and now we just have to live with it.

So how can we change this spiral of emptying our pockets to line the coffers of big oil? Well buying more efficient vehicles is a start, A Hybrid car is a measure that really works, but the real solution will be to develop electric cars and alternative fuel vehicles that decrease greenhouse gasses and use no petroleum products. Additionally, a national high speed rail transportation system as well as local light rail mass transit can drastically reduce the cost and pollution being generated by our addiction to gasoline.

Now the first question would be, “how do we pay for such a system?” One answer would be to insist that oil companies either accept government regulation or a massive oil profit tax. The shareholders of Exxon Mobil would balk, but if they only made $20 billion this year instead of $40 billion they would sitill be in record profit territory.

Call me a socialist if you will , but something has to be done and private industry has shown, especially in the petroleum sector, that they are interested only in robbing the public blind. It’s time to end the Regan era deregulation myth and get back to a country that is run for the “common good’ as opposed to the “corporate greed”.

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