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

A Choice between Food or Gas—Is No Choice

Apr 24, 2006

Gas prices are shooting through the roof. Just when it seems they can’t go any higher, they shoot up again. It costs workers a fortune just to gas up the car to go to work. We are being forced to cut back on necessities.

The prices for heating oil and natural gas have gone up even faster, taking a huge chunk out of every family’s budget.

The oil companies blame these record price increases on what they call “supply and demand.” They claim that oil and gas supplies are shrinking. They blame Hurricane Katrina for cutting oil supplies. They blame political instability in Nigeria and in Venezuela, two big oil producing countries. They say a possible war in Iran, the fourth biggest oil producer in the world, is to blame for market “nervousness” and higher prices.

Meanwhile, they say China and India are burning up more energy every day.

All this is supposed to prove that the oil price increases are the natural workings of the market. Supply and demand.

Horse manure! There is no shortage–other than what the oil companies create.

A few oil companies dominate the entire world market, including oil drilling, extraction, refining and distribution. They are the richest and most powerful corporations in the world. Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP, and Chevron aren’t just the brand names on gas stations. They exercise a true dictatorship over the world economy. They make and unmake kings, emirs and dictators in oil producing countries. They buy up politicians and spread corruption among government officials. They are behind wars in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Millions of people are told they are fighting for their country, when they are really dying for the oil companies.

The companies do not reinvest their fabulous profits. They don’t look for alternative sources of energy. They don’t explore or produce more oil. Nor do they build new refineries to meet increasing demand. No, they are shutting down refineries. In this period of economic stagnation, the oil companies just pocket the profits, like capitalists everywhere. And because they are so big and powerful, the oil companies do it on a breathtaking scale.

Exxon-Mobil not only had record sales last year, but also the highest profits of any company in history. Those profits came out of our pockets, lowering our standard of living.

Of course, the oil companies are not the only ones to benefit. Speculators also get in on the action. All kinds of giant companies are overflowing with money. They are always on the hunt for new places to put that money, to extract a higher rate of return. They seize raw materials. They buy up crude oil, and then resell it at a higher price. The product doesn’t even have to move. Money just circulates. As the same oil is bought and sold over and over, the price is forced up.

The oil companies, their stockholders and the speculators are enriched even more. The government too rakes off its share in bigger sales and excise taxes. And we pay the same regressive rate whether we own an old car or a Lexus.

The oil companies and all those who profit from high oil prices know that they are impoverishing working people. They know that they are devastating poor countries. They know that the increase in energy prices hurts the economy as a whole.

They don’t care. They don’t even care if they destroy their own economy. What counts for them is that they make higher profits! What they call a “market economy” is really just the dictatorship of the capitalist corporations. This cannot represent the future of humanity!