Apr 4, 2005
With gasoline prices already at record highs, crude oil prices shot up to over $57 per barrel on April 1, a "super-spike" as some commentators called it. The commentators promised us even higher prices at the pump, and the oil companies soon obliged.
We all know by heart the b.s. given to justify these outrageous prices. Blame ourselves, they say, because we drive too much or use too much heat. Blame the people in China and India, they say, because their economies are growing. Blame supply and demand.
Blame everyone except the ones responsible, the oil companies – who are hiking the prices, even while restricting production, that is, supply.
Oil profits tell the story. A handful of oil companies, called the Super Majors, control the international oil market. They dominate oil production, refining and distribution. This lets them set prices. And set them, they do, higher and higher.
Last year, the 10 biggest oil companies made profits of over 100 billion dollars. These profits are so huge, they are more than the economic output of Venezuela, an entire country that is one of the top oil exporters in the world. By itself, Exxon-Mobil, the world's largest oil company, had over 25 billion dollars in profits – after taxes. BP, the second largest, made over 16 billion dollars.
More than half of their profits went to hike dividends and buy back company stock – in other words, to further enrich wealthy stockholders, as well as top executives. This did not result in new oil fields or other sources of energy.
The oil companies are becoming more disgusting and arrogant. And they are not alone. All the big companies are doing the same thing, in auto, steel, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, aviation, banking and finance.
It has been a long time since the capitalists have had to answer for their greed. It has been a long time since they have had to face the anger and revolt of an important part of the exploited and the oppressed, when a major social movement rose up and challenged the capitalists, when ordinary people imposed their demands on the capitalists.
The capitalists act like they can do and say anything and get away with it. They will continue to do this until the anger of the working population boils over once again.