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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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What's Inside Big Oil's Head?

Comment

The big five of Big Oil might want to mull over a bit of advice that baseball great Ted Williams once offered to rookies: "If you don't think too good, don't think too much."

Apparently, the chieftains of BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell thought that a bit of gruff, CEO bluster would be just the thing to brush back public anger over the industry's all-star avarice and arrogance. Bad thinking.

Last week, the head of these multibillion-dollar behemoths, pumped up on narcissism, strode into a U.S. Senate hearing room and took wild swings at a bill titled: Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes.

In a time of $4-a-gallon gasoline, stratospheric rises in petro profits and a federal budget deficit severe enough that Republicans have called for killing Medicare, the spark that exploded the public's fury at oil giants was the revelation that the big five are on the government dole, drawing more than $2 billion a year in corporate welfare payments.

Exxon's top exec flailed at the bill, absurdly labeling it "discriminatory." Next up was Shell's man, who feigned almost-comic outrage at the notion that our nation's budget deficit should be reduced "by taking more from the few," as though he was unaware that "the few" in question are notorious tax dodgers, paying little or nothing on their enormous profits. Wildest of all though was Conoco's chief, Jim Mulva, who inflamed senators and insulted the public by calling the bill "un-American."

No, Mr. Mulva, what's un-American is that you five clueless CEOs expect to haul in $100 billion in profits this year, yet you're whining that you should be given $2 billion in special tax breaks, even as little kids are being cut off from Head Start and the GOP threatens to take Medicare away from grandma. Start thinking about someone besides your sorry selves.

As one politician bluntly said of Washington's annual tax giveaway to massively profitable oil corporations: "We don't need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore.

There are plenty of incentives." That was no lefty basher of Big Oil talking, it was George W. Bush.

Yet, thanks to an army of lobbyists and the regular delivery of bushel baskets full of campaign cash, the oil guys have been allowed to keep drilling into our public treasury, pumping out some $4 billion a year in various tax subsidies — more than half of which goes to the five richest corporations.

Incentives for what? Not to explore for more oil, hire more Americans or invest in renewable energy. Instead, top executives have spent the vast majority of their huge profits driving up their own corporation's stock prices to enrich — who else? — themselves. This is why oil executives are less popular than a Mississippi River flood.

Indeed, despite being called "un-American" by Conoco, the congressional proposal to repeal the loopholes is supported by 74 percent of us Americans, including a majority of Republicans. Yet, in March, every single Republican in the House voted in lockstep to protect all of the oil subsidies. Also, the budget that the GOP rammed through the House last month retains every dime of the $4 billion giveaway, even as that budget slashes food stamps, job training, college aid, and health care for seniors and the poor.

But it's the poor oil goliaths that draw the tongue-clucking sympathy of these compassionate corporatists. For example, GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty called the idea of ending the subsidy "ludicrous," wailing that killing it would be a crude "tax increase" on the waifs of Big Oil.

Meanwhile, Chevron's CEO says: "I don't think people want shared sacrifice (from oil corporations). I think they want shared prosperity." Hello, Earth to Chevron-Man, you've been grossly prosperous for years — where's the sharing?

If ignorance goes to $100 a barrel, try to get drilling rights on that guy's head.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM



Comments

7 Comments | Post Comment
"Big Oil" spends 34% of their money on redundant government regulations, drilling restrictions that force explorers 5 miles deep under the ocean, transportation regulations and taxes, refining regulations, licenses, leases, and myriads of others, and, like all other business, passes that cost on to the consumer. "Big Oil" gets about 23 cents a gallon as profit. Government gets 47 cents a gallon. "Big Oil" reinvests money in more exploration. Big government wastes money like water going over Niagara Falls. Envious and ignorant people like Jim, prey on the emotions by hyping high gas prices while ignoring enormous profits by Microsoft and Starbucks, among others.
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed May 18, 2011 2:38 AM
"Big Oil" spends 34% of their money on redundant government regulations, drilling restrictions that force explorers 5 miles deep under the ocean, transportation regulations and taxes, refining regulations, licenses, leases, and myriads of others, and, like all other business, passes that cost on to the consumer. "Big Oil" gets about 23 cents a gallon as profit. Government gets 47 cents a gallon. "Big Oil" reinvests money in more exploration. Big government wastes money like water going over Niagara Falls. Envious and ignorant people like Jim, prey on the emotions by hyping high gas prices while ignoring enormous profits by Microsoft and Starbucks, among others.
Comment: #2
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed May 18, 2011 2:46 AM
Sorry, for the double post. I, really don't know how it happened.
Comment: #3
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed May 18, 2011 2:47 AM
What does Microsoft and Starbucks have to do with oil, gas or the federal government? Also are either of them getting subsidies just to do their dam job?
Comment: #4
Posted by: Sean
Wed May 18, 2011 4:34 AM
Re: Sean The article is about "loopholes" which all business, including Microsoft and Starbucks, get for development writeoffs.
Comment: #5
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed May 18, 2011 5:42 PM
Sorry David... but you're once again using the right's favorite technique to deceive. Of course it's true that "The article is about "loopholes" which all business, including Microsoft and Starbucks, get for development writeoffs". To use this as an effort to negate Sean's observation is to hope that everyone overlooks your "Lie by omission". This article is about loopholes SPECIFIC to CERTAIN companies — companies making record profits... by "processing" resources owed by the citizens of the United States... at the direct expense of "the little people"... destroying the ecosystem... externalizing the costs of the damage they do onto the citizens of the US... investing nothing to increase refinery capacity (the bottleneck of supply) ... artificially creating shortages which cause hardships of all sorts... using every available means to avoid their social responsibility... AND paying little or no tax. Their product is needed for people to function... and survive. None of this is true for either Microsoft or Starbucks. As one can easily see... the technique of LYING BY OMISSION is the most devious, subversive and dishonest method a person could employ to make their point. It's the favorite tool of psychopaths.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Vito Caputo
Sun May 22, 2011 10:11 AM
When Will Rogers saw Henry Ford's assembly line, Rogers commented that what Ford had created was either good or bad, time would tell. Nobody likes zooming around in a car more than me. I can easily drive for twenty hours straight without getting tired. Like Seinfeld said, in a car, a person is both sitting still and moving. However, the millions of people driving twenty miles each way so they can work in one part of a city while living somewhere else, well, that is a problem nobody has yet addressed. I sometimes wonder how deceptive persons change an argument to draw attention away from the real issue. Global warming I think not. Instead, just look outside. Carbon monoxide air pollution is the problem.

I understand that Hightower is talking about lobbyists and greedy corporation bosses here, but maybe we could start talking about what we are going to do to limit cars and driving. How about a law that says it is illegal to live more than five miles from your place of employment?
Comment: #7
Posted by: Mike Hayne
Sun May 29, 2011 10:41 AM
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