Oil Company Earnings
I don’t get it. Why should we punish oil companies for making money off crude oil, refining oil, and selling and distributing gasoline to us?
It must be because we think we have a right to gasoline. Why not just give it away for free? Why would Americans be so pissed at companies making money off them unless they think they have a God-given right to that gas?
Capitalism-“supporters” take a strike on the inside corner of the plate.
What about taxes affecting gas prices? According to the California Energy Commission, gasoline on April 24th cost $3.07 retail. Before taxes, gasoline cost $2.49. The other $0.58 is taxes. I have no opinion on these numbers except that taxes DO add a lot, but that the problem won’t be solved by getting rid of the taxes (minus sales tax). The problem won’t be solved by a gas credit of $100, as others have suggested.
We need to reduce our consumption habit!
Consumer Habits vs. Gasoline Prices
I’m curious. As people bitch and moan about gas prices, are they actually making choices to change their lifestyles? I don’t think so. CNBC had an infamous video clip interviewing a man filling up his tank at a gas station. He was castigating the oil companies for hiking up the rates on gas. The kicker? He was filling up his fucking SUV.
Here’s the thing about American culture. We consider ourselves passive to government and the economy and the “market”, whatever that means to us. We think that those mechanisms know all. We trust them to work. That is, we can’t control gas prices and we can’t control what is being sold to us. We only consume what is shown to us. And what’s being shown to us is that we need to own bigger vehicles. We eat this marketing up.
Then, when it comes to gasoline, it sends a mixed signal to Americans when we buy that SUV that we’ve lusted after for a while, and then we’re charged high prices to fill it up with gas. Why is the government allowing oil companies to impede our right to enjoy this SUV we worked hard to buy? Extortion!
It’s fucked up but that’s how Americans think. They don’t have any concept of making consumption choices. They don’t know how to opt out of buying gas-guzzlers, going into credit card debt, buying bigger and bigger houses they can’t afford. I consume, therefore I am. It’s a house of cards of consumption.
Bolivia just nationalized its natural gas reserves. Of course FOXNews took this as a declaration of war. Take away our ability to consume and you must be trying to destroy us. It couldn’t be that Hugo Chavez has inspired other South American countries to take charge of their natural resources instead of letting other countries rape them.
Another thing I’ve noticed is the adverse reaction Americans have to any form of protest. Unlike other countries where protesting is seen as a unifying, empowering act of individuals coming together against a repressive enemy, Americans see protesting as something that un-American, lazy, non-working people who bitch too much do. There’s no honor in protesting in America. If you wanted to make more money, you’d be working, not protesting. You must not have anything to do if you’re protesting. Shit like that.
I’m reading the newest Wired, which focuses on global warming and Al Gore’s “neo-green” movement. In the magazine are prominent ads from big companies like Chevron, GM, and Honda promoting their new green products. GM gets the first ad space, a double spread just inside the cover. It promotes GM’s live green/go yellow campaign. GM’s new line of cars and trucks supposedly support E85, hyped because it uses corn, one of the U.S.’s main crops.
I am optimistic about the early signs we’re seeing from big companies pushing a kindler, gentler version of themselves. Wired is a forward-thinking magazine so it’s a bit ahead of it’s time. We will have to wait a bit for the movement to kick in.
Until then, peoples’ demand for SUVs continues. Supposedly, SUV sales are down 30% from their 2003 high, but this understates the demand for these vehicles as they do not include newer SUVs that are considered more like cars just because they’re smaller. They do not include trucks either. On my military post, almost everyone drives a truck. Despite what people would like you to believe, it’s still not cool to buy smaller, more efficient vehicles. And it’s still a status symbol to own bigger, brawnier trucks.
I would like to see prices get a couple bucks higher, and then stay there, so that over the next few years as people replace their vehicles, they will strongly consider fuel economy as a key selling point. It will take time for the loss of disposable income as a result of gasoline prices to filter into consumer buying choices.
Inflation and GDP
I am wondering what the effect of gasoline prices is on our GDP. Because as gas prices have ramped up over the last two years, GDP growth has ramped up also. Would growth be higher without higher gas prices? Or is the system so elastic that it can absorb higher gas prices? I’m thinking the latter.
We still have a long way to go if we’re going to be hurting. Which in some ways is a bad thing because we won’t turn the corner as fast on this pressing problem.
Israel: An Untapped Neo-Con Resource?
It might sound evil but you’d think someone in D.C. would have considered pushing foreign policy in such a way that we used Israel as our proxy. Imagine if we convinced Israel to take out Iran this time, instead of us. No one there likes or trusts the Israelis anyway, and they get to dish some out on their most feared opponent. The U.S. gets to be the pained stepfather, hesitant to step in to break up the quarreling children. The U.S. wouldn’t suffer as much of a public relations blowback as they would if directly involved.
Pretty scandalous idea, I know, but one has to wonder if anyone is seriously considering this shit. [edit: 04 May, I guess it’s long been on the table]
The Wretched Refuse of Your Teeming Shore
Apparently Americans who have been in this country forever (forever being at most 230 years) have a problem with paying out taxes to support illegal immigrant families in terms of health care, education, and (nebulously related) crime.
So… I get it. Remember the famous Statue of Liberty final verse?
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
It’s apparently not in the U.S.’s interest to take your huddled masses anymore. Or to feed them. Or to employ them so they have money. Or to give them health care so that they’re not sick and tired anymore. Or to educate them so they can assimilate into society (without conforming entirely the way some people want them to: learn English, wave the American flag, and all-around act less immigrant-ish!).
No, we don’t support those things anymore. Only if you have a visa. Oh wait, you can only get a visa if you have a job or if you’ve been accepted to attend school? Oops, guess you’re shit out of luck!
Nope, we can’t get behind that (speaking of getting behind that, I recommend listening to this William Shatner and Henry Rollins song where they bitch about certain things in America).
But we can certainly get behind buying gas regularly in SUVs.
Those SUVs that cost a lot of money that goes to Japanese who are manufacturing us out of the car industry (and have beat us to the punch in hybrid cars also) as Toyota stock hits 52-week highs and Ford and GM have stock in the toilet amidst massive corporate restructuring.
Gasoline which generates revenue that goes to wealthy oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran, countries headed by men whose sole ambitions are to be antagonists to America. Even worse, that money goes to governments who use that money to freely fund terrorist groups who need weapons, explosives, funds for travel and training. And in a religion whose followers don’t officially believe in charging/earning interest and who also believe it is a pillar of Islam to pursue jihad, do you really think those paper tiger emirs and kings are just sitting on all those trillions of dollars they’re making?
And do we mind taking crude from Venezuela, controlled by another antagonist, Hugo Chavez? No fucking way. Can we still consume even if we look the other way and do business with them? Yes. So why stop? We complain but we can’t stop feeding from the trough.
All those illegals…man. They need to go back home to their country. Fuck, why do they come here? Oh wait, we’re giving them lots of money to work and they don’t need to have any job skills to do it!! But we can’t punish businesses for hiring them…because America is pro-business and that is sacrosanct!!!
And the war? We despise spending mere pennies funding children’s education to get them out of poverty, but we’re fine with spending $300 billion in “wars” in countries on the other side of the planet, “wars” that by any realistic account are not yielding anything after 4 years?
Hey, how come we spend all this money on Iraq, yet Pakistan magically arrests a high-level Al-Qaeda member seemingly at will?
How come defense contractors are reporting record earnings, employing heavily, and are flush with cash? And why are politicians benefitting from their connections to defense contractors?
Nope, we have no problem with that. Why would we care about coughing up money to the very terrorists we’re trying to stop in the “Global War on Terror”, or to the politicians deciding we should invade a country all the way over somewhere near…well…somewhere?
Listen mother fucker, we have to get to the mall and shop! After filling up the gas tank I mean. Fucking illegals, get back to (illegal) work!
The problem is them, not us. Once they go out and vote in large numbers, follow their laws, get rid of governmental-corporate corruption, and get their economic and foreign policy priorities in place, they’ll be as successful as us!