The Spark

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

Hold Big Oil accountable!

May 8, 2006

With gas prices soaring at the pump, politicians in Washington pretend they are “getting tough” on Big Oil.

George Bush proposes to cut two billion dollars over 10 years off the oil companies’ tax breaks. But that’s not even peanuts to the oil industry, which recently got the right to pump oil and natural gas from federal lands without paying a penny in royalties over five years. That alone amounts to a tax break worth at least 65 billion dollars!

Congressional Democrats came up with their own ridiculous proposal: a “windfall profits” tax. Profits have been too high for years! When does it become a windfall?

And Republicans suggested to give every consumer a $100 check.

None of these suggestions would bring down the price of gas, which has already left many working families with no choice but to cut back on necessities such as food and clothes.

These proposals don’t begin to address the real problem: For over a century, oil production and distribution has been monopolized by just a few companies.

Oil products are vital necessities in a modern society. Capitalist society allows a handful of super-wealthy families that control the oil companies to set the prices of these necessities as high as they want them to be.

A political party ready to deal with this problem would roll back the prices of gasoline, heating oil and gas to one-half, even one-third of what they are now. Whatever profits that were left would be used to maintain existing refineries and build new ones – something oil companies have not done for decades.

No company or private interest would be allowed to control products necessary for the functioning of society. Gasoline, heating oil, natural gas etc., would not be allowed to become commodities speculated on – driving their prices ever higher.

Big Oil executives themselves say that’s what’s going on. Trying to absolve themselves of responsibility, they point out that the market price of crude oil has risen at least 20 to 30% in the last few months because of speculation. In other words, the same barrel of oil is sold and resold over and over again – always at a higher price – by speculators who turn a profit on each sale. These speculators are nothing but criminals gambling on the life blood of the whole society to recklessly fill their own pockets.

But this is nothing new. It’s the same game played by Enron and others that drove the price of electricity higher and higher in California six years ago!

The politicians in Washington can’t even pretend they haven’t seen it before. But still they don’t hold these vultures, and the oil industry, accountable.

Doing so would mean to call into question the very functioning of the capitalist economy – a line which these politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, have never crossed.

But that’s exactly what needs to be done – call into question the capitalist system, a system that is geared toward one goal only: producing bigger and bigger profits for the big bosses, by any means, at the expense of the whole society. This outworn system needs to be junked!