Tax Those Windfalls

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 8, 2005 | Go to article overview

Tax Those Windfalls


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

James K. Glassman's support of record profits for the big oil companies is a study in creative avoidance ("Pressures at the pump," Commentary, Sept. 21).

He says these oil and gas prices are just a result of the free markets. That's nonsense. Today, there is no free market in oil.

What we have are OPEC countries (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) sitting around a table deciding how much oil to pull out of the sands in order to affect prices. There are behemoth oil companies that, through blockbuster mergers in the 1990s, have more clout and muscle to affect the market. And there is the futures market, which is designed to promote liquidity in trading but has become a grand bazaar of speculation. All of these together clog the arteries of the free-market system.

I want oil companies to do well. We produce oil in North Dakota, and I have been supportive of the industry. But when the largest oil companies are racking up tens of billions of dollars in windfall profits, I believe someone has to stand up for the consumers who are paying through the nose.

The oil companies made the highest profits in their history last year. The 10 largest oil companies had revenues over $1 trillion, with net income over $100 billion. Exxon-Mobil alone earned $25 billion and used $10 billion to buy back its own stock.

This year a barrel of oil is priced $30 higher than last year, and the big oil companies' windfall or excess profits will be out of sight. While these companies wallow in profits, the people who pull up to the gas pump are being charged an arm and a leg. …

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