The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Editorial:
The workers should NOT pay for the oil companies' profit binge!

Aug 29, 2005

As the price for one barrel of crude oil continues to jump upward, the "experts" tell us that the demand for oil is exploding, while the capacity for producing oil is limited.

It's an old con game – and every bit as false as it was in 1973, when the price for a barrel of oil increased by 400% in a few months time. In 1973, many "experts" predicted that the world would run out of oil in 1982. The world didn't run out of oil. And the reserves – that is, the oil not yet used – are larger today than they were in 1973.

But, of course, the reserves of oil eventually could be exhausted – even if the reserves that are known today won't soon be gone.

So what should be done?

Some fools tell us we should drive less. Well, yes, but how? How do we get to work, when there isn't fast and convenient public transportation within a city, much less between a city and its suburbs? How do we take a vacation or visit our families or get to an out-of-town wedding or funeral, when the cost of airline travel is too high and few trains go where we want to go?

Drive less? That's putting the cart before the horse – and don't be surprised if some fool tells us to get a cart and a horse!

Drive less? Here's what we would need: first of all, more efficient and user-friendly public transport; travel and work organized so as to ease enormous traffic blockages, which gobble up gasoline; affordable and comfortable housing with good schools built near where we work.

A rational society would organize to use the resources of the planet so that they could be preserved for future generations. It would also take into account how not to poison the atmosphere with pollution. It would work out ways to transfer workers from one industry to another, without causing them to lose their wages, benefits, pension accruals, seniority, etc.

But despite all the talk about an oil shortage, that's not what the rulers of this country are doing today. No, they let the "marketplace" decide on how to use energy and which energy will be used.

And today the only thing the marketplace is doing is giving an enormous benefit to the big oil companies. In 2004, Shell Oil's profits were 48% higher than the previous year; ExxonMobil's, 18%; and BP's, 26%. This year, it's even worse. In the first two quarters of this year, oil company profits soared to even greater heights than in 2004.

None of this exorbitant profit is going toward easing whatever energy shortage might exist.

No, the only energy plan that the capitalists and their political friends have is to make the working people pay – pushing up the prices, not just on gasoline at the pump, but on everything else where crude oil or the energy derived from it plays a role: plastics, the chemical industry, agriculture, anything requiring transport, other forms of travel, etc. They even push up the price of natural gas – although natural gas doesn't come from crude oil!

This is not an "energy" plan. It's a "bigger profit" plan.

Take away the capitalists' enormous profits – put them to use benefitting society as a whole. Use them to organize the planet's resources rationally. It's the only plan that can benefit all of humanity.