Monday, August 07, 2006

POLITICS - America's "Duh" Moment

"America's Duh Moment, Oil-a-garchy and what do you get?" by Alan Bisbort, Hartford Advocate

Here's the quiz: Look at the gas pump. Look at the nightly news. Look at the do-nothing administration. Do you see any connection between these things? This is one of those "duh" moments for Americans, when even the densest among us gets it, when the arms have grown weary from waving the flag and spirits sag at the sound of more substance-less political rhetoric. The heat is on, the money's gone and the rockets and bombs keep falling.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of arguably the worst bill ever passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by a cheerleading president: The Energy Policy Act of 2005, giving oil, gas, coal and utility companies $14.5 billion in tax breaks at a time of record profits. Since that time, the average cost of a gallon of gas in the U.S. has risen from $2.14 to over $3.00, and the price of a barrel of crude oil has risen from $52 to over $70 in that same time. Some analysts see the price going to $85 by hurricane season.

Simultaneous to this anniversary -- celebrated, unironically, with an event at the White House -- were the announcements of second-quarter profits by several oil companies. Houston-based Conoco Phillips had a 65 percent rise in income, reaching $41.8 billion. So ridiculously usurious were their profits news reports dryly noted, "results far surpassed Wall Street expectations." Royal Dutch Shell's "earnings" jumped 40 percent with income of $83.1 billion. BP saw net profit rise 30 percent in the quarter (pure profit of $7.3 billion in three months). Chevron Corp. enjoyed the largest quarterly profit in its 127-year history, raking in $53.5 billion in revenues. Even so -- get out your hankies -- this gouging, according to the AP report, "let down Wall Street" as investors' "expectations have been raised by the oil industry´s recent run of eye-popping profit." Finally, Exxon-Mobil made more than $10 billion in profits for the quarter. Or, as my friend Nick Hancock said, "Putting it into perspective, Exxon earned $114 million per day in the second quarter. That's $79,000 per minute or $1,300 per second."

I´m not implying anything with these juxtapositions of facts. I´m stating it straight up: We are at war in the Middle East to increase oil company profits. Period. We are there to make Wall Street´s Gordon Gekkos, Texas´ oilmen and the sheiks of Araby happy.

Doesn't pull punches, does he.

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