Everyone is talking about gas prices, which is very funny given that just last week all the right-wing pundits were saying that no one would be talking about it until election time because we’ve all adjusted to the high prices. Anyway, the amazing part to me is that the argument seems to fall on one of two sides; The oil industry needs to be hit with a “windfall profit tax” or the opposite argument that everything is just peachy.
I have no interest in socializing gas prices. I don’t have ill-will towards the gas companies for raking in great profits. A tax on oil profits has been tried before and it did nothing for the consumer. A tax now won’t save anyone anything significant. In fact, if we dropped the taxes that are currently tied to a gallon of gas, we’d save quite a bit. However, all that being said, I still have a fundamental issue with the situation as it is today.
When Exxon can afford to pay its retiring Chairman $400 million including pension, stock options and other benefits like a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes, something is very wrong.
When a company can afford to do that at a critical time like we’re now facing with respect to gas prices, that tells me that there simply is not enough effective competition in the market. Think about it. Surely there should be a slew of companies that would be willing to get by with virtually none of that sort of extravagance and that company should be able to pass those savings on to the consumer. Since that isn’t happening, it’s clear that the oil industry isn’t exactly following a true free market approach. The same can be said for many other industries, most notably the music publishing business and when its allowed to continue things only get worse for the consumer.
I really don’t have the background to know exactly what might be wrong with respect to the oil industry but clearly something just isn’t right and until that gets addressed, we’re going to continue to pay more than we need to while companies like Exxon continue to pay out ridiculous benefits to their top people.