Political Rhetoric is Bothersome

 Make big oil fund alternative energy research

“The other day the oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to find alternative smart energy, alternatives and technologies that will begin to actually move us toward the direction of independence!”

Hilary Clinton – Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting Feb 2, 2007  

What?  I want to take those profits???? Oh, do you? 

I have blogged before about how media puts a sensationalistic spin on our news.  Not picking sides – it’s most every news network.  The fundamental flaw of course is that news is a business and selling it is more important than keeping it to the facts.  I once heard a reporter sum it up best on NPR.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Facts are expensive – opinions are cheap.”  And of course the other half of that – the reliance of our news on advertisers, who pay for viewers.  So it really comes down to how to keep us watching.

 But what about politicians?  In order to pursuade voters, they spin things to support an agenda.  Spinning is bad.  I’m all for being passionate, or full of conviction, but I long for the day when we elect people who don’t do it.  Sorry to pick on  Hilary.  I promise I’ll pick on someone else later, but the above quote and her other comments on “big oil”, drive me nuts. 

First, why are we trying to convince people that corporations should not make big profits?  These are businesses, owned by millions of shareholdes (including you, in your 401k).  What business does not try to maximize profits? 

Second, has anyone heard of OPEC?  Don’t they control prices?

Third, sell your Expedition.

Fourth, New York State makes almost 3 times as much as the oil companies, per gallon of gasoline.  Yes, Hilary’s state – and Schumers.  His position is the same as hers.  What are they doing with their big profits?  The federal government makes 1.5 x as much as the oil companies per gallon of gasoline.

 Game, Set, Match.

Be careful of rhetoric.  It’s easy to believe it, but we really need to think about what people are really saying.

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hillary has always been a Socialist so her desire to take people’s money for the “betterment” of the State is right on point for her ideology.

    OPEC actually doesn’t control oil prices; they can manipulate them to a degree but the current speculators are who are driving of the barrel price. Then the oil companies can dramatically effect final pump prices by limiting refining of the OPEC light crude.

  2. Thanks for your comments. At the very least, I think Hilary is not particularly well thought out. I did neglect to mention speculators. Thanks for bringing it up. I think we are on the same page, though, about oil prices and their link(or lack of)to profits at the big oil companies.

  3. Actually this is a really sharp move. Big oil made record profits by scamming the American people. Our leaders should try to get that back.

    But onto your specific points:

    Corporations can make extreme profits. That’s fine. But they should not be allowed to falsely scream “emergency!”, jack up the prices, and make a windfall profit.

    As far as OPEC, they certainly play a role. But remember that gas prices varied greatly by region and by company. This went above and beyond OPEC.

    Sell your expedition? Really? What if we don’t all drive expeditions? I drive a honda civic, and usually take public transit (always when I commute). That doesn’t change the price I pay at the pump. It doesn’t pay the environmental price I pay. We could ban SUV’s, and still have a grave problem. Making oil companies pay for alternative fuel research is like having cigarette companies pay for lung cancer research.

    How on earth does the money New York State rakes in have anything to do with anything? I am all for debate over how states should spend their money (and investments in alternative fuel are a good idea), but that doesn’t exclude companies from putting in their fair share, especially if they are disproportionately part of the problem.

    Be careful of rhetoric. It’s easy to believe it, but we really need to think about what people are really saying.

    So what was Hillary really saying?

  4. Fitness – thanks for visiting and thanks for your comments. You left me a lot to respond to – I’ll do my best.

    I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone scream emergency or seen any jacking up of the prices to make “windfall profits”. Today, in Maine, we are paying $3.03 per gallon for regular unleaded. If oil companies worked for free, the price would be $2.90. When the companies are paying higher prices for oil, of course it gets passed through to us but that is not because of their profit. At the close of the most recent quarter, the big three oil companies announced profits of $72 billion dollars. It sounds huge, but look at in context. The revenues were $772 billion, so the profit is really about 9% of revenue. Last year, the Fortune 500 companies, combined had over $9 trillion in revenue with over $700 billion in profits, which is about 8% of revenue on average. The oil companies profit margin is not out of line with all large corporations. In our society it is a constitutional right to make profits. They put forth the effort and take on the risk. They should get some reward. The fact that there is not a monopoly keeps this process honest. We can all snicker and say their is probably price fixing, but there isn’t any evidence of that either.

    What was Hilary really saying? She was playing the class warfare card. If you can give society at large someone to blame, we’ll want to do that. What does New Yorks cut have to do with it?? It’s 3 times the size of Exxon Mobil’s cut and they did nothing to earn it. I find it hypocritical to act so offended that “Big Oil” made “windfall Profits” when New York made three times the profits on every gallon of gasoline sold.

    Whether you drive an Expedition or not, as a society we waste a lot of energy. The price is largely impacted, like everything else, by supply and demand (and speculators). If we reduce demand, prices will soften. While we are better than we used to be, we can probably agree that we have a long way to go.

    Which brings me to the fact that we are also resistant to alternative fuel sources (dirty, unsafe, bad for birds, contains mercury, kills fish, noise pollution, sight polution, deforestation, etc.). It makes it a little difficult when the ‘perfect’ energy source doesn’t exist yet.

    I don’t think any of us are really anxious to take something from a company just because we decide we want to. It’s a scary precedent – the lawsuits against the tobacco companies aside (by the way I think that was scary too). It’s easy to take something from someone, it’s harder to go and earn it yourself, but we all know that’s what we should be doing.

  5. geopoliticalrooster,
    Sure thing, I’m looking forward to more debates with you!

    Very sobering numbers you came back with. My own point, fortunately ::breathes a sigh of relief::, does not rely on the exact interplay of oil price vs gas price, but rather the timing of profit. They made noises about needing to tap reserves, (and we did), and conerns that there wouldn’t be enough oil to go around. We had a crisis, and additionally with the per barrel price so high, American consumers were being hit hard.

    The oil companies shouldered none of that burden. They profited off of it.

    That is what I object to.

    Class warfare isn’t a card. Its a reality. Politicians pandering to it doesn’t erase it as a problem.

    Taxes are not the same as profits. There is nothing hypocritical there. If they raised gas taxes during that time, however, then absolutely they would be wrong to do so (and should send that money back to the taxpayers!). Did they? If so, I will readily admit I am wrong here.

    I definitely agree, we have a way to go becoming more efficient. And we need more of a common sense of urgency on issues of energy consumption, the environment and related issues.

    We do have some pretty amazing alternative fuel sources available, and exciting ones on the way (variations on solar energy to make it cheap and easy to produce, cleaner ways to consume dirty resources, etc).

    It isn’t easy to take away or earn. Do you believe corporations shouldn’t have any liability for the harm their business practices or products cause?
    (Isn’t assuming liability the whole point of a corporation)?

  6. Fitness – Class Warfare is a card, but I shouldn’t phrase it that way. I might be a little guilty of using rhetoric! What I mean to say is that Hilary is attempting to stir up emotions by claiming people are being cheated by corporate America. I don’t want to re-hash what we have just been through, but I will use the example that points out that if oil companies worked for free that gasoline would be 12 cents per Gallon less than it is now. It shouldn’t be insinuated that people, who are struggling, should blame that on the oil companies. She is trying to rally the vote around misleading statements. The commonground here is that oil is too expensive. Let’s focus on that.

    She did the same thing when Bush won the election in 2004, saying that she would introduce legislation to do away with the electoral college. She’s a smart lady. She knows that doing so would be tantamount to putting all of the power in New York and California. Sort of defeats the idea of a “United States”. Again, I’m not picking on Hilary, but come on!?

    To prove that I’m not, let’s pick on Bush. If I heard one more time where Bush linked Sadam Hussein to Al Qaeda, I would have screamed. I don’t like rhetoric on either side. We need to put people into power who don’t do that. People with the same objectives end up polarized, because of rhetoric. Throw out our partisan politicians – everytime, all day long.

    Sorry for the rant. Ok, I agree taxes are not the same as profits. However, I feel more entitled to earn profits then the government should feel to tax me. You may totally disagree with that, so that aside, if her point is to help citizens afford gasoline, perhaps her state shouldn’t have the fourth highest gas tax in the country and be the second-most heavily taxed overall state in the Union (behind Maine, I’m sad to say). This was the point I was searching for, not when they last increased it. That would be interesting to know, though.

    You said “we need more of a common sense of urgency on issues of energy consumption, the environment and related issues.” Amen, to that.

    I am with you on the alternative energey ideas. But when I said there are people fighting against all alternative sources, I meant all. Theres a huge cry of people talking about the toxic chemicals used in solar panel manufacturing – and what will happen when they degrade. Dams – fish. Windfarms – birds, sight, noise. Hybrid – batteries. Nuclear – radioactive waste. Coal – Dirty. Wood – deforestation. Need I go on? My point for mentioning it previously is that we need to reduce demand on oil to effect the price. We are in agreeement on that – and even on how to get there, so no sense in rambling on that point.

    Your last point is, admittedly, the most difficult.

    “It isn’t easy to take away or earn. Do you believe corporations shouldn’t have any liability for the harm their business practices or products cause?”

    For this instance I’ll ask what harm has been done? We need oil as an energy source currently, or else we would simply stop using it. That someone provides it and get’s paid for doing it makes them liable how? I’m not sure I’m following you. Also, I think it shouldn’t be easy to take away, and such action should be reserved for real fouls. Throw me an example of a situation where you think it is justified and I’ll pick that one up, too.


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