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How Have Oil Companies Hurt Us?

Updated on February 10, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Liz's advice on finance, credit, frugal living practices, & anything monetary, is from the 'school of hard knocks,' research, & experience.

A Universal Hatred

If there is a single common denominator for our modern society, one item with which every person living in a modern city can relate, it is the price of gas, or “petrol” to some. The price keeps going up, well out of proportion to every other commodity, and well beyond the government’s ‘cost of living’ figures (which are laughable at best).

"Why is this so?" We all wonder in unison. The problem is, there is no single, simple answer. The simplest, shortest answer is, “the stock market.” The fact is that oil, (or any other commodity for that matter), that is traded on the open market, is subject to the whims of price speculators buying ‘futures’ and other deals designed to deliberately drive the prices up for their own private profits. It is a selfish, “I’ve got mine—to hell with everyone else!” mindset.

The industry apologists will nay-say this notion, citing instead such things as tangles of import/export regulations, exploration and drilling costs, and a host of other factors. To some extent, the operating costs are legitimate, but belong figured into the actual costs of doing business, and not as a wildly fluctuating excuse driven by the whim of the moment.

Neither do I accept the excuse about regulations. As with the insurance industry, or any other powerful industry, many of these rules are self-imposed. That is, they have carefully crafted the language (of these laws) to their own (profit) advantage, and lobbied for their passage.

If you don’t believe me, there are countless websites, a few of which I’ve listed below, charting exactly where the money goes and from whom. On any day, you can visit your state capitol or even the halls of the U.S. houses of congress, and find oil lobbyists roaming the halls like sharks in a feeding frenzy. They are not there to serve our interests, but their own. Sad to say, but the truth of the matter is, our government is bought and paid for by Big Oil money.

Import/Export Troubles

The USA does not actually import a large percentage of its oil. We drill most of it ourselves, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico being the largest sources, with some drilling off the coast near Santa Barbara. (Or, is this even true?  The truth is, we don't know.)  More corporate obfuscation has served to muddy the issue, with some sites listing as low as a 25% share of imports, up to as high as 72%, and everything between!  It is all part of their game!

 Nonetheless, the corporations doing the local drilling also drill in other countries, ship that product elsewhere (China, Japan, Great Britain, and other places). Then they raise our at-home prices, forcing us to subsidize them for product we do not receive. The only place in the USA that needs oil imported is Hawaii; obviously, since they are an island with no oil reserves, and we have not yet figured out how to fuel vehicles on lava.

They may be ‘multi-national’ corporations, but their headquarters are here, making them USA companies first. One of them has the audacity to sell to overseas markets every drop of the oil drilled here, and sell to its USA customers oil they pay to have imported from elsewhere. What is wrong with that picture?? Their actions are unconscionable, unethical, inexcusable, and need to be made illegal. However, given that Big Oil virtually owns our elected officials, that is unlikely to happen.

Then Something Went Horribly Wrong...

Source

The Real Cause of the Housing Bust of 2008

When the real estate market was booming a few years ago, everyone was buying homes. Some certainly overextended themselves and bought homes they could not realistically afford, (but not everyone who was affected). Everything seemed rosy.

Then, the bubble burst. It began to wobble, truthfully, when gas prices began inching upwards. Transportation costs were the most directly affected next step. Then came raw materials, dependent as they were on transportation costs. It became a vicious cycle..

After the oil companies got away with this over the course of a year or two, they discarded the tape measure, and forgot about “inching” prices up. They went up a nickel or a dime overnight with no explanation, qualms or apologies.

Only excuses were offered, and flimsy ones at that. If you pay attention, you will notice prices of fuel at the pump continue to rise regardless of the price per barrel of oil. Recently, the pump prices have risen even as the per-barrel prices dropped; this has, in fact, happened numerous times. There is but a single word for this: greed!

It takes fewer workers and less time these days to produce that barrel of oil than it did back in the early years of the oil industry. Their money has, however, contributed to the making of this problem ever since the Harding White House.

And then everything crashed, and crashed hard. Prices for fuel continued to escalate, other costs followed, and round and round it went, faster and faster, spinning out of control, and we, the majority, like chess pawns on a turntable; as the speed revs up, more and more of us fly off into oblivion.

Another Full-Scale Depression!

The government tried (and is still trying) to soft-pedal this as a “recession.” It is nothing of the sort. It is a full-scale depression, at least as bad, and probably worse than the stock market crash in 1929. The direct cause may be different, but the end results are the same. People out of work; people losing their homes; people unable to afford food; people unable to afford even an apartment and becoming homeless.

Unemployment is at a record high. Do not trust or believe the unemployment statistics you see on the news. They are false. These statistics count only people:

  • actually receiving unemployment benefits.
  • conveniently ignore those whose benefits have expired.
  • those who lost their jobs and were not eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • the vast numbers of underemployed stuck in minimum-wage, part-time jobs and unable to afford a place to live, or forced to work 2 or even 3 jobs to make ends meet.

These very same news broadcasts will then turn around and report on the increased need at food banks and other charities. Does no one see the contradiction and the connection here?

When Will It End?

Probably never, if all the general public ever does is gripe about it, but remain silent and continue to do business as usual.

Well, I Am Here , and I Refuse to Remain Silent!

Behind all these woes; the bottom tier; the foundation sustaining these troubles? Big Oil. Yet, no one will say so. No newspapers or TV news reports or politician will say so. Why? Because Big Oil has everyone with any ‘clout’ buttoned up tight in their back pockets.

This corporate greed is shortsightedness at its worst. These corporate executives and the shareholders to whom they answer are interested only in their own immediate profits and maximizing those profits to become as wealthy as possible. Oil companies have been posting record profits lately. Profits, folks. That’s money leftover after all expenses are taken care of. It is downright criminal the excess profits taken by these giants at the expense of the rest of us.

They just don't care about anyone but themselves. As filthy rich as they all are, their families and descendants don't and won't have to worry about where the next meal is coming from for now, at least. Karma is patient, and doesn't play nicely.

How Do They Help the Economy?

In a word, they don’t. Their position is selfish because of what they do with those profits. You have to ask? Why, they pocket them, of course. They use them to buy expensive homes, expensive cars and yachts, and every other kind of perk to show off their wealth.

They can also afford high-priced tax lawyers to be sure they pay as few taxes as possible on their obscene incomes. They live what has come to be called “the good life.” In reality, it is not so good. What portion of those profits to they use to help the poor? What portion do they donate to food banks? What portion to they offer to spread around for the betterment of the community? Approximately 0%, that’s how much.

The shameful thing is, this country, indeed, the world, cannot sustain this for much longer. These greedy so-and-so’s in the upper echelons of every one of these giant corporations only care about themselves—they cannot see—or don’t care, that the coming collapse at their hands will also affect their own families—their own children and grandchildren will be harmed by today’s choices. And they just don’t care.

Oh, sure, they may have investments, and hedge funds, and all that, but believe me, folks, when it all comes crashing down, all of that will be worth less than the paper on which it is printed. It might, however, make good tinder for that fire when the heat is turned off.

Beyond Not Helping, They Often Cause Serious Problems

Remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill back in 1989?

Government Budget Cuts

“The economy is a mess.” “The deficit is out of control.” “We must cut spending!” So howl the governors and the president, and a few token legislators. But how do they propose to make these cuts? By attempting to balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford the cuts, as usual. Who are these unfortunates?

  • The elderly
  • Children
  • Schools
  • Libraries
  • Firefighters
  • Police

Why Are These Bad Places to Cut?

  • The elderly are already at risk from declining pensions, or pension funds lost in the recent debacle with the banks.
  • Children who are particularly at risk are those from poor families who are already living on the edge;.
  • Schools have already been cut to the bone—there is nothing left to cut but academics.
  • Libraries, like schools, have already had their budgets and therefore their hours slashed.
  • firefighters do more than just fight fires—they train communities in life-saving techniques such as CPR and every so often rescue beloved pets from trees or children from wells; many fire departments also provide the paramedics who come along with the ambulance
  • Police are already stretched thin.

This Is Maddening

There is more than enough money brought in by Big Oil to more than adequately fund all needed services.

That is, if these oil giants paid the taxes they rightfully owe on that income. But, they do not! They slip and slide through all sorts of loopholes, exceptions, exclusions, and greased palms to avoid paying their fair share of taxes . (And they are not alone in this avoidance!)

Ergo, almost every penny they bring in as profit remains as profit to fatten their own overweight wallets. These offshore tax shelters need to end.

When you and I, as private citizens, file our income taxes, one pointed question from the accountant is, “Do you have any stocks, bonds, or foreign bank accounts?”

If your answer is “yes,” you must pay Uncle Sam a share of that interest income. Not so for Big Oil. They have bought their way out of such rules as apply to the rest of us!

Yet, all the same things mentioned under the previous heading are always first on the chopping block directly because of corporations refusing to pay their fair share!

Why? When is enough enough?

When are we going to stop rolling over and playing dead?

When are we going to realize the numbers of the trodden-upon far surpass the numbers of the wealthy, and demand that the original American Dream of our immigrant Pilgrim ancestors be restored? (That's right: we are all immigrants, or descended from them, so the current paranoia about 'immigrants' is ludicrous.)

It is past time, and the clock is still ticking!

© 2011 Liz Elias

Comments

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  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Thank you very much, LegumePastabasta, for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

  • LegumePastabasta profile image

    LegumePastabasta 

    6 years ago

    This is so well done. I only wish to possess your grasp on communication. Cheers

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, cclitgril--

    I'm delighted that you enjoy my articles. Thanks very much for your praise and the follow!

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Calhoun 

    6 years ago from Western NC

    WOW! I LOVE your writing and your information. I'm heading over to the "follow" button right now, because I can't wait to hear more and see more of your hubs! :)

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Thanks much, homesteadpatch, you are correct, and that is exactly why we are seeing all these protests that began on Wall Street, and are spreading across the country and the world.

  • homesteadpatch profile image

    homesteadpatch 

    6 years ago from Michigan

    Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this article is, it's all accurate. The top 1% has been sticking it to the bottom 99% for far too long. Thank you for writing this.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, Dexter Yarbrough,

    Thank you very much for your kind comments. I'm pleased you found the article worthwhile.

  • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

    Dexter Yarbrough 

    7 years ago from United States

    Excellent information, DzyMsLizzy! Thanks for sharing! You are doing a great job in educating us.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, safiq ali patel, thanks for stopping by and for your input.

    You are correct in stating that the prices are also high along with the taxes in other countries, coupled with the fact that those prices and taxes outside the U.S. are also usually on sales by the liter, not by the gallon as they are here...for practical purposes, a liter being approximately a quarter of a gallon.

    Nonetheless, those taxes levied at the pump are taxes on the consumer, and not income tax on the oil companies. What income taxes they pay, or rather should pay, they mostly manage to find loopholes to avoid paying.

    You are also very correct in your assessment that the real problem is shareholders and speculators--a problem of which I am very aware. I was just so irritated while writing the article that I perhaps published it too soon, and neglected to mention that angle. In my opinion, no energy source of any type should be subject to such activities that only serve to inflate prices. Gas, oil, electricity, water service: none of them should appear on the stock exchanges for public trading. Make that illegal, and watch the prices stabilize in a big hurry!

  • safiq ali patel profile image

    safiq ali patel 

    7 years ago from United States Of America

    I only partly agree with you. Here in the United Kingdom the taxes levied by government on petrol are very high. There is also a story that says while we blame the oil companies directly for the steep rise in petrol prices we fail to consider that it is interest holders in the oil industry not always the oil companies that have driven prices up.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Thank you for your visit and vote, howcurecancer. ;-)

  • howcurecancer profile image

    Elena@LessIsHealthy 

    7 years ago

    I hit the awesome button.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    LOL, Cobra! Well, I would imagine in the interests of "keeping up appearances," we must still be granted some measure of free speech. ;-) Thanks for stopping by!

  • profile image

    Cobra 

    7 years ago

    OMG, I can not belive that you were able to write such an article without someone or some company shutting you down. YOU TOLD THE TRUTH, and big oil does not like that! They are the proverbial rats on a ship,jumping off as the ship goes down. Big Oil does not like it when the spot light is shone upon them,they will put out any spin they can to turn that light away from their actions.

    And, YOU are so right, they do have those in power in their back pocket, those who are supposed to look out for us, their constituents.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Thanks, chuckandus6--I'm glad you liked the article, and I appreciate your leaving a comment.

  • chuckandus6 profile image

    Nichol marie 

    7 years ago from The Country-Side

    Very good article thank you for putting this out to the public

    Nichol

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, maria.rose! Thank you so much; I'm glad you found it useful and informative. It is a topic I feel needs to go public.

  • maria.rose profile image

    maria.rose 

    7 years ago from Florida

    These are the real factors that you described. Thanks for sharing such an informative hub. I liked it. So much useful material. I read with great interest.

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