Saturday, June 14, 2008

More About "Obscene Profits"

Whilst lifting, sculpting my middle-aged body into the powerful force for good that it never really was, I like to peruse the wonderully written and logic intensive articles provided by the truly deep thinkers found in the many right-wing sites found on the world-wied web. This fine article found at AmericanThinker, a site that confuses the pseudo-intellectuals and reduces them to hanging their hats on dangling participles rather than disputing the points presented, would have been better attached to a post soon to fall into the archives for lack of space. Thus I present it here.

Needless to say, I agree with the sentiments contained therein, and wish to re-iterate my disgust with those politicians and their supporters who believe that there exists any right of the government to confiscate the profits of successful people or corporations. The left especially, though old Mickey concurs, chooses to demonize the successful and the wealthy in order to position themselves as saviors of the downtrodden, most of whom are fully capable of creating for themselves a successful life of whatever type they choose, if not for having been fed the B.S. of those who wish to avoid dealing honestly with real issues. Here, "Big Oil" is clearly being smeared as evil, when the greater culprits of high petrol prices in this country are those that are doing the accusing. At least McCain sees the bennies of nuclear power. But I fear he may no go far enough to reverse the unnecessarily burdensome restrictions and regulations that have done more to create this situation under which we all suffer. It will only get worse under Barry, because he's a complete idiot. There's supply and demand, and then there's government interference. The first requires politicians to stay the hell away. The second requires real courage and thoughtfulness to reverse to stand up to the real culprits, politicians and the lefty environmentalists.

25 comments:

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

The "argument" of the piece is that, should the United States government pursue a windfall profits tax on the oil companies, currently enjoying record profits, we shall all end up losing every petroleum-based product we have. Further, electricity will be a thing of the past, since oil and natural gas account for quite a bit of electrical generating power. Automobiles? We don't need no stinking automobiles!

First of all, I am not a "pseudo-intellectual". I do not consider myself an "intellectual at all. I do not worry about dangling participles all that much, although I do try to avoid ending sentences in prepositions. I am an educated American adult, Marshall Art, and as such I think it important to care about things like good writing, sound reasoning, and effective presentation. I guess that makes me a latte-sipping elitist because I want those who write to write well.

This argument is neither new nor relevant to the question of taxing windfall profits. The same argument - that Big Oil would disappear - was used against anti-trust legislation, various regulatory regimes, and on and on. Funny enough, the corporations managed to survive a rise in taxation, greater scrutiny from government inspectors, even the wholesale overtaking by state-run and -funded corporations in the guise of state power agencies. It is truly amazing that this argument has as many lives as a cat, seeing as it has been disproved over and over again.

You are perfectly within your rights to think, "Wow! What a sound piece of reasoning!" Especially if you've never encountered it before and you find it relevant to the question at hand. It is neither, and I have seen it in one for or another for about twenty years raised on a whole host of issues.

One thing to say in the article's favor, however. While it does engage in straw arguments (willfully or ignorantly misrepresenting the position of one's opponent and arguing against this miscontrual), it does have the virtue of being grammatically correct.

Marshall Art said...

"The "argument" of the piece is that, should the United States government pursue a windfall profits tax on the oil companies, currently enjoying record profits, we shall all end up losing every petroleum-based product we have."

You're right. I apologize. You're not an intellectual. The above quote proves that very well. The "argument" of the piece is that 1. The government has no right to determine what constitutes "too much" profits. But more importantly 2. That it is the government more than the oil companies that are responsible for our current pricing calamity. For anyone truly paying attention to the facts, something you claim to find absolutely necessary for making an argument at all, the profit margin, which tells the real tale, is only around 7%, far lower than many other industries. In the meantime, gov taxation constitutes twice that, if not more. Why is the government, who neither invents nor produces anything, getting more profit out of the labors of "big oil" than the oil companies themselves?

You say that they've survived taxation before. Of course they do. There are two main reasons for this: 1. Entrepreneurs always find ways to survive the interference of government and others. 2. They raise prices when overtaxes, just like everyone else.

So there are no strawmen in this article whatsoever. There is only your typical inability to understand plain English.

Finally, regarding your second paragraph, "...I think it important to care about things like good writing, sound reasoning, and effective presentation." I do too. The thing is, I don't see where you've demonstrated you have the knack for recognizing sound reasoning and effective presentations. You have lately, in recent posts here since your return, shown a propensity for engaging in the Dan Trabue form of debate. This is no more than standing on unimportant points, such as the use of the term "all liberals do X" and doing the victory dance for coming up with an exception. In addition, of course, is the show stopping attacks on the writing style of writers of linked articles. Keep trying, though. I dig the tenacity.

Marshall Art said...

BTW, Geoffrey. I have yet to respond to your comments on a post below. There's a lot to which I can respond and I will indeed get to it. Stay tuned.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

You have already disproved the thesis as you see it of the piece by stating that entrepreneurs always find a way to deal with various legal and regulatory regimes within which they must do business. Since the article argues the exact opposite - that any government-constructed set of rules creates insurmountable barriers to successful innovation and even continued business success - one would think you would recognize the inherent problem with this piece.

Also, to claim that government has "no right" to do anything in regards to the economy is ludicrous. From a Constitutional standpoint, Congress has the freedom to regulate interstate commerce (it even has a name, the commerce clause). Second, from a theoretical standpoint, it is important to remember that businesses exist because of government; markets exist because of government. Without the monopoly on police power enjoyed by the state, there would not be enough order to control forces that would destroy any economic regime. Furthermore, since corporations are entirely a product of the state, I see no reason in the world why the state should not regulate them in some manner.

Furthermore, in order for the state to continue to exist to provide a safe area in which economic activity can thrive, taxation is necessary to fund the continued police power of the state. This is an elementary bit of political theory. It is also common sense. If corporations want to operate without rules, they need to understand that not only will there be no regulation or taxation, there will also be no protection from criminal activity directed against them, or unethical, immoral or other actions detrimental to their continued survival in such a non-state as well.

Finally, I do not "dance with glee" when I point out that a theory is wrong. I merely state it. I have yet to read an answer to my query for an example, a real, concrete example, of "liberals" being appeasers. Unlike, say, Ronald Reagan giving arms to Iran in order to free American hostages held by Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon back in the 1980's. That's appeasement.

ELAshley said...

Without getting into the back-and-forth with you two I'll just add my two-cents.

It is hypocritical of government [and since Democrats now control the Congress, Democratic government [recognizing of course that Republicans as well are acting hypocritical-- hello? McCain?]] to accuse the Oil Co.'s of "Obscene" profits when government's cut is two to three times greater than "Big Oil's." Especially since government-- as Marshall has pointed out --does not lift a finger to research, explore, drill, or anything else to produce oil. What government DOES do is hold out its hand, and accuse "Big" oil for obscene profits. Go figure. Also telling is a couple of Oil Companies getting out of "Branded" gas stations because there's no profit in them. No profit in gas? Go figure.

To further compound the hypocrisy is the fact that HAD William J. Clinton NOT vetoed the bill that would have opened up ANWR we would not be in the position we are today... at least it's reasonable to assume this considering how much oil is up there.

Republicans are accused of unhealthy beholdings to the "religious right," but Democrats have equally unhealthy beholdings to the environmental lobby, which has successfully bullied the Democrats into making it increasingly difficult to build nuclear power stations, build new refineries, and drill off our own shores... especially since China, in league with Cuba, is drilling just 60 miles off the coast of Florida. Environmentalists don't want our pristine beaches destroyed by marauding slicks of crude, but it'll happen anyway should and if China's rig experiences a "break-out".

Dems demand in one breath that the President talk to OPEC and ask that they pump more and increase supply, and in the next demand measures be taken to reduce our dependence of foreign oil... WHILE sitting on huge reserves of our own.

If we start drilling tomorrow the price of a gallon of gasoline will not go down. We will not see a return on the investment for 8-10 years. But in that 8 to 10 year time frame we could build several refineries to handle it. We could even build a few nuclear plants.

We need to drill now. While simultaneously building refineries AND stepping up research to replace oil as our primary source of energy.

Taxing the oil companies does not accomplish anything. Corporations do not pay taxes. People do. Whatever government levies upon the oil companies will be passed on to the consumer.

The best thing we could do would be to perfect an alternative to oil, one that is both compelling and demands world-wide change to this new source...... take power out of oil. Drop the price to pennies on the barrel, and stop making wealthy the religion that wants to kill infidels. That's the "best" thing. In the meantime...

Drill Here, Drill Now.

That's MY two-cents anyway.

This whole mantra of "Peak-Oil" is strange to me in that it makes me feel as though the Left wants to put Oil on the endangered species list. Ridiculous, I know. But that's what it looks like. If there's only a little bit of it left, then let's drill it and get it over with already. We need it, and its not doing anything but polluting the earth way-down deep where it's at. If it's harmful to the environment on the surface, how much more so close to underground water sources? Like some pocket of malignant cancer deep deep in the tissues of Earth.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

First, I for one have yet to read or hear or see the two-word phrase "obscene profits". Oil companies, especially the biggest ones are enjoying record profits even as speculators and OPEN production quotas drive up prices. Both the price of a barrel of oil and a gallon of gas has doubled in the past year, hardly the indicator of "market forces" working in a rational environment. The nice thing is, eventually, the speculation bubble will burst, and both OPEC and non-OPEN countries will begin to cheat on their production quotas because the per-barrel price will be too tempting to pass up.

A windfall-profits tax is just that. It taxes profits that accrue due to temporary conditions - higher than normal oil and gas prices due to the interference of irrational speculation and market manipulation by a cartel - and cease when those conditions cease. I do not consider the profits of the oil companies "obscene", just abnormally high, and therefore subject to potential action on the part of the state, to protect the well-being of the whole commonweal, which after all is the purview of state actors.

This is all real easy to figure out if one assumes that government exists for all its members, not just corporations. Funny enough, that is a traditionally conservative point of view, first expounded clearly by Edmund Burke in the 18th century. But, then, I'm a pseudo-intellectual and you're not, so you wouldn't know that, would you.

Cameron said...

"I do not consider the profits of the oil companies "obscene", just abnormally high, and therefore subject to potential action on the part of the state, to protect the well-being of the whole commonweal,"

Geoffrey, how is taxing an oil company protecting the well-being of the whole commonwealth?

blamin said...

”This is all real easy to figure out if one assumes that government exists for all its members, not just corporations.”

What the, who the, huh?

Name one conservative that believes that pap. What Al Frakenest propaganda pamphlet did you get that idea from? That is akin to me claiming you’re a liberal, socialist, communist in training because you believe in punishing achievers and rewarding non-achievers.

The top federal corporate income tax rate is 35%, add to that state tax, add to that federal and state gas tax, and add to that taxes paid by individuals on dividends. I think the government is getting plenty. Don’t forget, if the oil companies are earning “record” profits, then it follows that they’re paying “record” taxes.

The government is to big, to hungry and to meddling, the last thing we as free citizens need to do is give it more money for no good reason other than to assuage the envious amongst us. Why the hell would I want to empower even more, an organization that wishes to make me less free? A necessary evil is what it is, its high time the citizens of this country get in touch with its history and heed the fears of our founding fathers.

Dan Trabue said...

Amen!

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.

~George Washington

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes...known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. ... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

~James Madison

All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition.

~Benjamin Franklin


By all means, let's heed these fears of our founding fathers.

blamin said...

Good post Dan.

Glad to see you're not an Obama supporter!

Dan Trabue said...

I support all of those fellas: Obama, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams. Great men, all.

God knows that none of them are/were perfect, but great and inspiring leaders nonetheless.

blamin said...

Dan,

The mere fact that you’d include Obama in that list is very telling.

He’s a pure media made caricature. You’re assigning way to much depth to a very shallow personality. I thought better of you.

Dan Trabue said...

And you're able to discern this, how?

You're intimately familiar with the ins and outs of Obama? You've read his platform and know what his plans and goals are?

No, Obama is not a perfect man. Nor were Jefferson, Franklin or Adams.

But Obama is also certainly no Bush, and that says a whole lot. He is, in fact, no Clinton, either. Not even a Kennedy.

Obama is an inspiring leader who is talking about personal and national responsibility in a way that I've not seen any national leaders in our nation do in my lifetime (with the notable exception that Carter tried to be that sort of leader at times - although he did not have the Charisma that Obama has).

And I know you'll get a kick out of that.

blamin said...

”Obama is an inspiring leader who is talking about personal and national responsibility in a way that I've not seen any national leaders in our nation do in my lifetime”

Jeez Dan, he’s a cheerleader, what are you, president of the pep club?

Inspiring? Maybe to the uninformed.

Leader? Pray tell, what is his leadership qualities/experience?

Personal (hah, excuse me, hardee har har!) and national responsibility? Damn it man, you must be really be hard up for a leader.

Dan, I’ll give you this – Obama can give an inspiring speech – to those that don’t know better.

I can understand (even though I don’t agree) your disdain for the Bush admin., and maybe even your fear of McCain, but to support Obama, a vapid clown, is beyond all reasoning. You’d be better served by simply pointing out your disagreement with Bush; your apparent support of Obama robs you of all credibility.

Dan Trabue said...

but to support Obama, a vapid clown, is beyond all reasoning.

And I would ask again: Based on what?

I understand you fearing Obama - he's leading a sweeping out of the Republican Party this Fall - and I understand that fear makes people say desperate things, but do you have any reason to call him a vapid clown?

Have you read his books? Have you read his platform? Do you know even the slightest bit about him or is this just ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome)?

Heck, at least I didn't start criticizing Bush in earnest until after his first few months (when he hired convicted felons for his staff and let the Oil industry write our energy policy). Before then, I thought he was an affable, if not especially bright, rich boy.

Dan Trabue said...

blamin, should I take "no response" to mean you're basing your opinions against Obama on nothing he actually stands for or has actually said but rather on just your own partisan biases?

Marshall Art said...

No, Dan. You should take it to mean that he doesn't spend every waking moment monitoring various blog sites.

Dan Trabue said...

Then he's certainly a better man for it. Bravo!

blamin said...

Dan,

I recently saw an Obama spokesperson officially advocating for the government control of the US oil industry (ala Chavez). In addition he wants the US Congress to set gasoline prices. When asked why we should allow the gub’ment to do this (considering its stellar record in business dealings), the answer: “oil is such a large part of our lives, government should control it”!!!. No kidding! That’s the official answer from the Obama camp.

He wants gov’t control of the medical/health field, gasoline/oil, and anything else that the self-appointed elite believes “is such a large part of our lives” (farming and food production and sales will be next). Combine that with a senate voting record that would make any looney toon moonbat proud, and there you have it!

Admit it, Obama is a socialist. That makes his supporters socialist or ignorant of the truth. Now if you’re a socialist Dan, please explain to me how you people plan on succeeding when so many before you have failed. I personally think it’s the arrogance of man, for each generation to believe they are so much more intelligent than previous generations.

I’ll hand it to ya, you’ve got an excellent start! With the purposeful dumbing down of the public school system, the systematic leaching of rights at a barely perceptual (sometimes not so barely) rate, the simultaneous promotion of a “gimme attitude” while pooh-poohing self reliance, and finally the promotion of a culture that ridicules the decent while championing the crass.

Yes things may be set up for us to start a socialist society, but I ask you again, how do you propose to succeed when socialism has never really succeeded.

Socialism is but a step towards communism, Obama and his cronies are fully aware of this, even if his starry-eyed supporters aren’t.

Dan Trabue said...

I recently saw an Obama spokesperson officially advocating for the government control of the US oil industry (ala Chavez). In addition he wants the US Congress to set gasoline prices.

well, these are very fine claims to make, they're pretty and entertaining and all that. But I was hoping for something more reality-based.

You have a source? I mean, besides the "I heard someone who said something somewhere sometime..." kind of source.

And Obama is a socialist? That's great fiction, but words have meanings and, as Obama is not in favor of the State owning everything, he's not a socialist.

Come now, let's talk seriously like adults, not on the level of "he's a socialist and a terrorist and a boogeyman!! I know cuz someone said so. Be afraid."

It's a little hard to take that sort of conversation seriously.

blamin said...

Dan,

The level at which some Obama supporters will self-delude is truly stupendous.

It was Wednesday afternoon, Fox News, an interview of a woman named Lazu by Neil Cavuto.

”And Obama is a socialist? That's great fiction, but words have meanings and, as Obama is not in favor of the State owning everything, he's not a socialist.”

Obama is not openly in favor of the State owning everything. He’s openly in favor of the State owning whatever he thinks may help him get elected; the rest will come as opportunities arise.

Perhaps Ms. Lazu was just floating a trial balloon, attempting to gauge the peoples reaction. If most people react negatively, the attempt to nationalize oil refineries will be accomplished in a more “back door” manner.

Doc said...

Good reference blamin. For clarification, Ms. Lazu is identified as an "Obama supporter," and the report is in response to the proposal of New York Congressman Maurice Hinchley for a nationalized oil industry, not on any proposal of Obama. Now, it is likely not just coincidence that a person is identified as an Obama supporter during an election cycle, and perhaps this is a trial balloon, but I wouldn't officially chalk this one up to the Obama campaign directly. I'd love to hear Obama's opinion on this, though.

A better point is when you mentioned socialized healthcare:
“We now face an opportunity — and an obligation — to turn the page on the failed politics of yesterday's health care debates… My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.”

Obama,at a Speech in Iowa City, IA, May 29, 2007

I also find him a bit too tax and spend oriented for my preference. One can question some of his influences in his life for their strong socialist beliefs.

Does this make the man a socialist? No. He makes inumerable statements regarding working with businesses and the importance of the free market:
“I believe that America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress. It's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world. It's led to a standard of living unmatched in history. And it has provided great rewards to the innovators and risk-takers who have made America a beacon for science, and technology, and discovery…We are all in this together. From CEOs to shareholders, from financiers to factory workers, we all have a stake in each other's success because the more Americans prosper, the more America prospers.”
Obama, New York, NY, September 17, 2007

"Socialist" is too easy a derivative, like "bitch" for Hillary or "Nazi" for Pat Buchanan.

blamin said...

Doc,

You’re correct, contrary to what I originally believed, she doesn’t “officially” work for the Obama campaign.

Just for clarification, she’s a Democrat strategist and Obama supporter.

Or – if you want to get down to realities, one of those “unofficial” supporter/cheerleaders that can say anything. If the words have a positive reaction, the MSM will associate said comment with Obama, if it has a negative reaction, Obama can claim he never endorsed any such notion.

I’m aware of the many things Obama is saying (out of one side of his mouth). Life experience has taught me not to put to much faith in what a pandering (see who he was speaking to) politician up for election may say. As a matter of fact, if you look at many of the remarks within many of his speeches one could say he’s subtly making a case for the “collective” ownership of industry.

I prefer to look at voting records, and the type of people a person associates with. Obama looks and quacks like a duck.

Dan Trabue said...

I repeat:

It's a little hard to take that sort of conversation seriously.

blamin said...

Oops, that should be "Obama looks and walks like a duck.

dan,

you should take it very seriously. The fact that so many don't, is the very reason for its insidiousness.

Doc,

Obama may not be a full fledged socialist, who can know anothers mind? He certainly seems to be leaning in that direction to the glee of many movers and shakers in the Dem party.