Alan Zendell, July 30, 2022
I’m not one to say I told you so, but in case you either weren’t paying attention or thought I’d made up fake numbers about why gasoline prices have spiked so much, here’s what The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal had to say, yesterday. The five largest western oil companies, (make no mistake, they are all international cartels with as much power as many national governments,) reported record profits during the April-June quarter of 2022. Exxon, Chevron, and Shell reported collective profits of $46 billion during the quarter. When you add in anticipated earnings reports from BP and the French cartel, Total Energy, $74 billion in record profits will have been made in three months.
The oil companies have already indicated that most of their record earnings will be used to buy back stock from shareholders, which will greatly increase demand for shares and drive up stock prices, thus further enriching the largest shareholders. There’s nothing overtly illegal about all this, but the ethical and moral issues are mind-boggling. The windfall profits came on the backs of hundreds of millions of consumers, many of whom can barely afford to feed their families because they are captives of an industry that answers to no authority but the gods of profit. Equally repugnant is the decision to enrich shareholders rather than modernize and expand refineries that haven’t been upgraded in decades. And since reinvesting in refineries is off the table, the refineries, too are reaping record profits.
If you wonder why the oil companies get away with this kind of thing whenever there is a supply crunch on energy resources, have a look at who represents the three largest oil producing and refining states: John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; John Cronyn and Ted Cruz of Texas; and James Langford and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. All six are Republicans, and the only things they hate more than reasonable gun control measures are taxes on oil companies and anything that limits their profits. Protecting oil companies, along with pandering to evangelists, anti-abortionists, and gun nuts have been the principal planks of Republican campaign platforms since 2000.
This is really important stuff, especially as the midterm elections approach. As MAGA politics is daily shown to be what it really is, the antithesis of everything that helped make America great, and most Americans continue to suffer under a system in which the rich get richer at their expense, people are starting to wake up. And while the right-wing propaganda machine continues to paint President Biden and the Democrats as incompetent and not knowing how to lead, the team of Biden and Senate Major Leader Chuck Schumer is finally showing its mettle. Classic overreach by Republicans in their attempt to dominate the government by opposing policies and legislation that the vast majority of Americans favor is causing the tide to begin to turn back toward majority rule.
Democrats, after eighteen months of being stymied by Mitch McConnell, have finally put together a package of legislation that can protect American manufacturing of critical parts and components, like computer chips, take meaningful steps to reduce inflation, and mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Let’s not give them too much credit for innovation, however – only a bunch of morons could fail to see the necessity of these measures. But Democrats have finally demonstrated that they know how to govern when the chips are down, and they are taking full advantage of popular backlash to Republican overreach.
The most glaring example is the shocking reversal of Senate Republicans who had previously voted in favor of a bill to help veterans whose health was ruined by exposure to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Out of pure pique and spitefulness, McConnell led his caucus to reject the measure this week, leaving thousands of veterans in the lurch with debilitating and often fatal illnesses. Combined with turning a deaf ear to law enforcement agencies who decry being outgunned by criminals and homicidal lunatics, they are spitting in the faces of much of their traditional base of support.
We are at another critical crossroads in our country, as the CHIPS bill and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, approach final votes in the Senate and House with the strong support of President Biden and large majorities of American voters. It’s been well publicized that the fifty Republican Senators who control half of the Senate represent only 43% of American voters. If you support this new legislation, and you’re tired of being part of a majority being dominated by a spiteful minority, now is the time to speak up.
Since our politicians seem to care more about the next election than serving the people they represent, voters’ voices are the court of last resort.