Greed Without Shame – Big Oil Vs. The Tax Man

By-The David

I sit here and I wonder why I was surprised or taken aback by the commercial I heard this morning.  I guess it was the audacity of it…… that any company or group of companies would have the nerve in these times when everyone with a conscience is vowing to do their part to lessen the suffering that the economic situation has brought about.  At first I couldn’t believe my ears, but, yes… there it was, loud and clear.  An association of oil producers was trying to rally the public to their side.  The argument they are using is almost beyond belief.

Their argument is quite simple.   They should not have to pay any increased taxes. These companies have just come off two years when their profits have smashed every record imaginable, these profits that were considered obscene by so many.  Under the oil-friendly Bush administration the petroleum companies enjoyed a climate where, in the eyes of the government, they could do no wrong.  They were under regulated and price increases were never questioned by the powers in Washington.  So the person who depended on oil for heat or for transportation found their pocket-books shaken and wrung dry to increase the wealth of the oil companies.  Now, as incredible as it might seem, these same companies are crying poor because the present Administration is going to attempt to even the terrain.

This commercial that I found to be so offensive featured a man and a woman using very modulated tones discussing all of the evils that will happen to the country if the oil companies have to pay any additional taxes.  The method used in these ads reminded me very much of the tone used by the Insurance Companies when the Clintons attempted to rein in the cost of Health Insurance.

There are other commercials being paid for by the Big Oil Billionaires and in their own way they are equally offensive but what struck me about the radio commercial was its absolute brazenness and the attempt to use scare tactics to get the very people they are gouging to rally to their support.

The commercial states that if taxes are increased for Big OIL Billionaire Companies they will not be able to afford to explore for new oil deposits.  Remember, these companies posted billions in income and unprecedented profits.

If taxes are increased for Big Oil it will result in persons losing their jobs and new jobs not being created.  This just points to the selfishness and lack of commitment by Big Oil. Remember, these companies posted billions in income and unprecedented profits.

If taxes are increased for Big Oil it will result in small business failures all over the United States.  This made me wonder if they are talking about the small independent service station owners who are being squeezed out by the Big Oil owned super service stations;  The next time we see a station closed, perhaps we can remember that the Big Oil companies posted billions in income and unprecedented profits.

If taxes are increased on Big Oil we will see State and local taxes lost as a result.  Are they saying they are worried about selling less of their product?  They profited from never before seen gasoline and oil prices and knew that they have a customer base that needs their products.  They didn’t worry about their sales then, and remember, Big Oil Companies posted billions in income and unprecedented profits.

It is time for the Big Oil Billionaires to share the burden.  I am not saying that they should be gauged by tax collector, but I am saying that they should, that they must start paying their fair share.  They need to be as responsible as the person who pays their income tax and knows that it is indeed their responsibility to do so.

We live in such very bad times; it seems to me that it is time for Big Oil to become a part of the solution rather than attempting to paint themselves as victims of taxation.

Their attempt is, to say the very least, unbelievably shameful.

13 Comments on “Greed Without Shame – Big Oil Vs. The Tax Man”

  1. we need a new tax structure, tax everyone and everything, but at lower rates, including non-profits and churches. If everyone pays maybe “we all” will be more concerned and demanding of accountability with how all those funds are spent. Big business has never been a good neighbor, ask anyone in the last century who paid any attention to the railroads …. the market place will support products and companies who deserve to be supported.

  2. David, remember Josef Goebbels: “A big lie is more effective than a small one.”

    Thus endeth the lesson.

    The real question in my mind is this: Why are we all not on the doorstep of our government in Washington, with torches and pitchforks and plenty of rope, until this and so many other injustices are corrected?

    Oh. Yeah. We’re too damn polite.

    The Tea Party now has the upper hand – because they’re not afraid to be thugs.

    Ironically, it’s these working-class schmucks who voted for this nonsense.

    Someone, please explain that to me….

    -W

  3. In Alberta, the oil companies launched a very similar ad campaign when the provincial government chose to up the royalty taxes on the companies oil revenues and slowed down their R&D departments as a concrete message to the provincial government that they were not amused. It has become a status quo versus the economic realities for these companies; they have experienced such excessive revenues and profit margins that they have adjusted their expectations of that being the norm. When they speak of losses, the companies are not talking about negative monetary gain but negative backflow of previous net gains. In the end, I suspect the American government will do the Alberta motion – give in. It is the way of our culture; there is no human in government but there is “over men”….

  4. A.B., it’s a similar situation here in Alaska. The State firmly increased oil taxes. Consequently, the oil companies responded with two measures. They added the tax increase on to the price of fuel, so that it was the consumer paying the increase- not them- and they slowed down the production of oil. The State of Alaska has been fighting British Petroleum for ten years for buying a lease-sale for the North Slope, but not developing a facility. A recent effort to sue British Petroleum resulted in a court decision that British Petroleum was within its legal rights not to develop their lease sale. The explanation of the producers was that it would not be profitable to build a facility on the North Slope until the price of oil was high enough to make building it lucrative.

    As long as the world remains oil dependent, we are under its thumb. It isn’t just the money, but they are the power that supplies us energy, plastics, fertilizers, paints and other petro-chemical products. It’s rapidly boiling down to the individual choice of how much oil we consume. The more we remove oil producing energy, plastics and chemicals from our vocabulary, the more liberated we become from their policies. There is no need to appeal to the conscience of someone who doesn’t have one.

  5. For the record, I’m no fan of Big Oil (or Big anything else for that matter) – but I have to ask just what the point of increasing the tax on a product which has a demand curve that’s largely inflexible is, especially when such a tax is applied to companies that have a history of passing on additional costs to consumers. Call me crazy, but I have to wonder if the political class isn’t doing this for the purpose of acclimating the common man to higher prices all around: remember that the price of oil affects every product because every product requires transport to the markets – and most forms of transport are oil-driven!

    Think about it – we live in a time when the dollar has lost much of its purchasing power and the social elite want to maintain their profit margins in spite of worsening economic conditions: the most effective way for them to keep those profits up is to raise their prices, but this can’t be justified without a change in the supply/demand curve – enter the new taxes (which they will use as an excuse to cut production due to increased production cost) to change up that curve and allow them keep posting obscene profits well into the future.

    I know it seems like a great idea to make people pay their “fair share” (however that’s defined), but you need to remember that the political class nad the social elites behind the large industries are both part of the same socio-economic machine: they won’t do anything to ensure that the needs of the masses are met because neither of them have any real interest in doing so – they will just keep scratching each other’s backs until they’ve milked the relationship for all that its worth.

  6. Christopher, that is exactly my complaint concerning the oil companies. We now pay $3.40 a gallon for fuel, much of it the taxes that have been passed on to the consumer. Heating and electric costs are astronomical on a shoe string budget that is trying to absorb soaring prices for everything from candy bars to a loaf of bread. Power outages have become frequent, and production has shut down to a minimum. That was the result of trying to buck the oil companies that continue to operate on an aging pipeline that continues to spill oil into the tundra and into the sea.

  7. This article understates the evil greed of the oil companies. Having worked for one or 15 years, I know how deeply involved they’ve been in what is now occurring. It’s utterly shameful.

  8. Karlsie is right. Raising taxes on big oil trickles down to us. We pay not them it does come down to choice. We need to change our behaviors to make an impact here. Let’s face it. Oil is running out and the price will keep going up as long as we continue to depend on oil. Investment in alternative energies is what we need to be doing. Btw. Gas stations don’t make any money on the gas they sell. That’s why a candy bar costs $1.50 and a gallon of milk is $4. We need to chang our thinking AND our behaviors to quit enabaling the big oil system.

  9. Karlsie,

    I understand your sentiments and share many of them, but what I’m implying here is that it’s no just the oil companies doing this – but rather I see a collusion between the oil industry and the political class to condition the average person to carry an ever-expanding economic burden so that the CEOs keep getting richer whilst the political class has more tax revenue to throw around for pork projects.

    I don’t think that the government can reign in this hydra of special interests and their lobbyists (in fact, I doubt that that the politcal class even has the desire to do that, as they profit from this unhealthy relationship too) – I can only see things ending badly when the average Joe is all taxed-out, followed by the social elite making a dash for the border before a firefight breaks out…

  10. Christopher, you’re speaking to someone from the state that just put six legislators behind bars for collaborating with oil lobbyists, and almost placed King Stevens in prison. The anarchy that resulted from this brought us Sarah Palin. Her reign was so frightful, many people have taken to hiding back behind the Republican guard. It simply feels safer somehow to deal with a known enemy than an unknown factor.

    Lobbyists have recently licensed themselves to as much publicity campaigning as they please, thanks to the approval of the US Courts who decided it was all in the name of free speech. Ah. The rascals. Whatever tears we cry for our lost freedom, they dump out in bucketfuls for their own sadly persecuted motives. Big Oil and politics are married and forever shall be; at least until the oil runs out. By that time, if we haven’t resolved how to preserve our remaining resources and still maintain energy, we’ve lost completely.

  11. The solution to fighting big corporations, be it big oil, or big healthcare, is non-profit. For big oil, the government needs to start operating their own refineries and operate them at non-profit. They will then sell the petrol to independent petrol stations, or even open their own non-profit petrol stations. These government non-profit refineries and petrol station will only seek to earn enough money to cover the costs of operation. This will force the for-profit oil companies to lower their prices, or be driven out of business since everyone will be buying their petrol at the cheapest stations.

  12. Most important: 11 men lost their lives when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20. This is a tribute by Steve Joynt to the 11 men who died on the Deepwater Horizon, “Oil spill Day 100: The 11 men who died on the Deepwater Horizon” We can never lose sight of the human cost of BP’s and others’ malfeasance.

  13. I believe your right. They know there’s oil there, and they’ll justify it by saying: How can you expect us to undergo all this cost if we can’t recoup some of our loses. Whatever the current fines may be, double them-at the very least-, and no more dithering on settlements to the lives and livelihoods disrupted.

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