(A Reactionary Opinionblog by TeacherDave.)
The big news on my TV screen in the last two days has been the "record profit" scored by ExxonMobil this week. $39.5 billion. Not too shabby for a multinational oil conglomerate with over 84,000 employees. The largest corporation in America, whose effective income tax rate in the first quarter of 2006 was 47.4%, according to Yahoo Business (a higher rate than 2005).
But watch the news broadcasts. The profit of this business is always couched with the "high energy prices" that consumers are "upset" about paying. And the idiotic "man on the street" interviews that follow invariably have some guy saying, "Well, I just don't think it's right that they make so much money when our gas prices have gotten so high!"
Have they? Let's look at the tape. According to Gas Buddy, the national average for a gallon of regular gas in the U.S. is only about 15 cents or so higher than it was two years ago. Yes, there were some big spikes this year, but it's gotten back to normal. And when ExxonMobil was suffering Q4 losses, they didn't spike the prices to offset. In fact, that was the lowest point for gas prices last year. Doesn't make sense if they're dirty moneygrubbers, does it?
Of course, no one wants to pay two bucks plus a gallon, but compared to our European friends, we're getting off easy. (Incidentally, the cause of about half of their gas price, on average? Taxes.)
So how do American politicians respond to the good news for a top American employer and industrial giant, who feeds in millions each year into the tax coffers?
Presidential-frontrunner Hillary Clinton wants to punish ExxonMobil by "closing a tax loophole" and using that money to fund Biofuel research. Because let's face it, 47% just isn't enough of a cut. Clinton is proving herself to be more of an Old-World-style leader than we thought.
Obviously, the Exxon CEO thinks this is a bad idea. I agree.
This type of stuff just gets under my skin. The media presentation and the knee-jerk bureaucratic response smacks of the ridiculous "Damn-the-man-ism" that has infected so much of the American public. It's short-sighted, selfish, and anti-capitalistic. More importantly, it's bad for our economy, which makes it bad for every Joe Schmo who gets pissed when a LEGITIMATE business providing a USEFUL SERVICE is profitable after spending its MILLIONS/BILLIONS in investments, taxes, and payroll.
So, if you find yourself feeling petty and insulted because some folks are doing well in business, please do yourself a favor and grab a slice of perspective.
I don't know. There's also the environmental issues, and I know several of you are really concerned about those. That's fine, I get that. The very idea of ExxonMobil's existence may be offensive to you. I can't help you with that (not that you'd want my help!).
But if you're an average joe like me (debateable, I know, but bear with me), it's childish and short-sighted to be bitter against people who're just doing their job well. Quit whining about profitable businesses providing your gas at globally-cheap prices. And PLEASE don't say that they should take some of their (EARNED) profits to make gas cheaper. That's like saying the kid at McDonalds should take his paycheck and split the cost of my BigMac with me, just to be "fair."
The most laughable part of the news report I heard yesterday was when the talking heads said that ExxonMobil wasn't using very much of their revenue at all to research alternative energy sources--as if that was surprising.
Really? Do you expect them to drop a ton of cash on that?
That's like poo-pooing Chick-Fil-A for not doing more to promote hamburger consumption. Give me a break.