Last month, it was announced that Exxon's profit in 2005 was a staggering $36.13 billion -- bigger than the economies of 125 of the 184 countries ranked by the World Bank. And Exxon's profit soared 42 percent from 2004, mostly because of rising oil and gas prices. And without having their annual reports on my desk, I'm guessing the other oil companies made out alright too.
I'm not here to gripe about gouging or anything like that. We all know their business plan is based on all sorts of fancy mathematics that add up to the simple fact that when gas prices rise, they laugh like stinky hyenas all the way to the bank. That's just the world we live in
But, today in the New York Times, we learn the government is going to waive seven billion dollars in royalties from these companies. That's seven billion dollars these companies would ordinarily be paying us, cash. We could probably do something with that money, right? Remember schools? Remember Katrina? Remember body armor?
I don't know about you, but if someone owed me seven billion dollars and I saw them sashaying down the street waving around a thirty-six-billion-dollar payday, I'd beat them with my boot to get it.
I'd be especially fierce about it too if my debt to the bank was going up two billion dollars a day -- which it is.
And even if they did pay the whole thing themselves, which no one is asking them to, Exxon would still have thirty billion dollars in the bank to play with. Not bad.
Again, I know it's more complicated than my simplistic explanation, for starters I don't own a boot. But you get my point.
Now, once this thing got out to the press, the first thing the Bush officials did, predictably, was direct attention elsewhere. This criminal giveaway, they say, is all because of some old 1996 "regulations." In other words, they're blaming Clinton. How crazy is that? Why don't they blame Taft? Or Martin Van Buren? And even if is because of some old, misguided regulation; I believe we elect politicians so they can do things like repeal old, misguided regulations. I think a Republican told me that.
The second thing they tried to do is say "What's good for the oil companies is good for us." Actually what the administration's Johnnie M. Burton, director of the federal Minerals Management Service, really said was, "We need to remember the primary reason that incentives are given. It's not to make more money, necessarily. It's to make more oil, more gas, because production of fuel for our nation is essential to our economy and essential to our people."
More oil. Last I heard our president wanted us to kick our addiction to oil, now he's subsidizing it? I'm not positive about this, but I'm pretty sure seven billion dollars could buy a lot of solar panels.