It’s true, gas prices are as high as a mouse in Willie Nelson’s laundry hamper. That’s no secret. Yes, retiring Exxon Chairman Lee Raymond got a $400 million retirement package. We all know that. Everybody’s in an uproar. President Bush has ordered a probe into possible gas price cheating on the part of oil companies and others in the chain of distribution.
The funny part? The biggest gas price raisers of all will conduct the probe: The government.
Members of Congress, such as Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter, who makes “watching paint dry” seem like it should be a sport in the X-Games but nevertheless manages to exude split-atom energy when it comes to cheerleading for bad ideas, are calling for a windfall profits tax on the oil companies.
Of course, the tax would be passed on to consumers, but Congress will deal with that later — it’ll be good fodder for calling for the federalization of the oil industry. In a Beltway culture that confuses motion with action, windfall profits taxes are but flailing victims in the quicksand of lunacy.
Besides, who’s really making the money and profiting on gasoline? Here in Michigan, the government, and I’m talking about just the state of Michigan, takes about 30 cents per gallon. (Here’s a PDF of how much your state takes). The local, state, and federal national average for total gas taxes is 45.9 cents per gallon. On the other side of the viscosity coin, evil oil companies make in the neighborhood of 9 cents per gallon.
But wait, the government’s take is chock to the brim with nobility, since those taxes pay for roads, repairs, infrastructure studies, gold keys to the Pearly Gates and a generally mellifluous existence for humanity as a whole, right? That was the defense provided by Mississippi Senator and Strom Thurmond roaster-gone-horribly-awry, Trent Lott, in a recent interview.
Defenses of excessive ancillary taxation can’t help but make you wonder what all your “regular” taxes go toward.
If you’re a fan of irony, check this out: there is a petition on the State of Michigan website that you can sign to demand action against high gas prices and obscene oil company profits. Not so oddly enough, I don’t see where they mentioned that the Michigan state worker pension system currently holds $832 million worth of Exxon-Mobil stock.
After that, go to JohnDillinger.com and sign the petition to convince Bonnie and Clyde to stop robbing banks.
In witnessing certain members of government complaining about the high price of gasoline, I can’t help but feel like I’m listening to the Menendez brothers whining about being orphans.
Drill for more oil in the U.S.? Nah. Even though Alaska’s Senators have raked in more “road to” pork than Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, none of those roads will lead to an oil field in ANWR any time soon.
Build more refineries here in the States? Sure, and maybe Courtney Love will open a finishing school.
Weren’t we all just debating this? In November of 2005, the U.S. Senate hosted many oil industry execs, and vociferously grilled them over “obscene profits.”
Rest easy, America — pillars of integrity, many of whom somehow managed to become millionaires from a lifetime of “public service,” are handling these crooked oil companies.
A political body, headed up in part by the Massachusetts duet of Kennedy and Kerry — respectively, a former admiral in the Olds Navy whose family made their fortune running rum during prohibition, and a gigolo, are sitting in judgment of what constitutes “profiteering.”
At the November 2005 hearings, California Sen. Barbara Boxer was so up in arms that you’d have thought those oil execs were trying to talk somebody out of a late-term abortion. Robert Byrd was shocked because he hasn’t been in the same room with such greedy white men since the time he was in arrears on his Klan dues.
Hillary Clinton, who turned a couple of Chuck E. Cheese game tokens into over a hundred grand trading cattle futures, also shook her head in disgust at these money grubbing petrol peddlers.
So, if you’re tired of paying so much for gas and are waiting for time-honored “government intervention” to make the prices drop, you may first want to sit down and hope that the sun rises in the west (your congressperson can see to it, if you’ll just give him or her enough money).
What’s the answer? I don’t know. All I’m certain of is that the solution won’t come from the problem, and that it’s far easier to justify Lee Raymond’s Saudi-esque $400 million retirement package than it is to figure out what Congress does to deserve a couple hundred grand a year and endless perks.