The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Big Oil Vultures!

Jan 30, 2006

Thousand-dollar heating bills, fifty dollars to fill up at the gasoline pump – what do the big oil and natural gas companies think they’re doing?

Ripping us off, that’s what. And they know it very well. They planned it that way!

Publicly, they may tell us that oil and natural gas are in short supply – but they don’t act like it. If there were a real shortage, they would have been using their profits to build new refineries producing gasoline and heating oil, as well as new installations producing natural gas.

They certainly have the money to do it – their profits have been setting new records from one year to the next. In 2005, the five biggest oil companies alone made 100 billion dollars in profit, up from 84 billion the year before, which itself set a new record. Never before in the history of capitalism has a single industrial sector recorded such profits.

So yes, they have more than enough money to invest in new facilities, to ease this supposed shortage they talk about.

But they haven’t done it. They have NOT invested in new facilities – they have been closing existing ones!

Don’t blame the closures on Katrina. The big oil companies were closing refineries long before anyone heard about Katrina. And certainly don’t blame it on countries that produce petroleum and natural gas – today, there is a surplus of crude oil supplies and natural gas sources. What’s in short supply are the refined products. And that shortage has been consciously created by big companies closing down their production facilities.

The oil companies are not the only ones to benefit off the shortages they created. So do the big investment banks like Goldman Sachs, the brokerage houses that specialize in oil and the speculators who trade on oil. So do the big construction companies like Halliburton and the companies that own and run those broken down oil tankers, which so often leave oil spills in their wake. Not to mention politicians who are put and kept in office thanks to money from these companies.

Did you think you’d ever see a thousand- dollar-a-month heating bill? What about two thousand dollars? That’s what the big companies have in mind – just like they are aiming to make $3 a gallon the base price for gasoline in the U.S.

It’s not just what we pay at the pump or to the utility company. Not only do our cars need gasoline and our furnaces natural gas or heating oil. Petroleum and natural gas provide much of the energy needed to create electricity and to transport almost everything we buy, including food. Oil is the basis for fertilizers and plastics. The prices of everything keep going up because the big oil companies are gouging out as much profit as they can find.

Our standard of living, our hopes for the future, are being sacrificed to this mad chase after profit. It’s the very picture of the capitalist system, a system gone haywire. Even while it creates enormous wealth, even while it wields the most modern technology human experience has devised, this system rushes from one catastrophe to another. Wars are carried out to ensure the big U.S. companies’ control over the world’s oil; price gouging in the market place impoverishes us. These are the products of a system whose very core is rotten.

Like other rotten things, it deserves to be tossed aside.