Monday, November 07, 2005

Price gouging by oil companies

Lately I've been reading that various Congressional committees are going to call oil company executives onto the carpet to explain why their companies are making so much money.

This is political farce. I mean, it's almost not even worth it to explain why this is unfair, un-American and a waste of legislators' time and our tax dollars, but here goes. (It's like Josh Mostel tells Billy Crystal in "City Slickers", "Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla. Don't waste my time.")

First, do we hold hearings every January, after the Christmas shopping season, so that the CEOs of K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Macy's can explain just why it is that they make so much gosh-darned money every Christmas? Do we stigmatize umbrella salesmen as profiteers when it rains? Of course not.

Look this is simple: right now, the cost of oil is high. So gas costs more than normal. So oil companies make more money than normal. This is a good thing. This means they have more money to invest in their and others' businesses. They can pay larger dividends to their shareholders. Whatever. The point is companies exist to make money. That's what they do.

Second, and this is the ugly little secret that several columnists have pointed out - and this is really what makes the prospect of hearings so ridiculous, the government is making even more money (in the form of gas taxes) from the high price of oil and gas than the oil companies!

So, who is going to call them to the carpet?

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