Fuel from fossils/hydrocarbons is now America’s number one export product. As America’s “addiction” to fossil fuel has decreased slowly but surely, the worldwide demand for fossil fuels has increased substantially. And as the demand of the world market for fuel increases, so does the price. American petrochemical companies export a significant amount of the fuel coming out of their domestic refineries into that world market. This has increased the price American’s pay for gasoline to an all time record average of almost $4 a gallon in 2011. American petrochemical companies made record profits in 2011.
Yet inexplicably, the Federal government in Washington still continues to use American taxpayer money to provide Big Oil with a very large subsidy in the form of the Oil Depletion Allowance tax break they receive. Giving tax breaks to companies whose profits run into the tens of billions of dollars, so that they wind up paying no Federal Income Tax on these enormous profits is in a word, crazy, or nuts, or absurd, or ridiculous, or simply; wrong.
The original purpose of such a tax deduction for the oil & gas industry, when it was first started about 100 years ago, was to help them make sure America’s expanding need for fuel was met and the prices remained stable. But that was when petrochemical exploitation was in its infancy and the business was much more hit and miss. Now the only drilling occurs in “proven oil reserves”, so it is not at all speculative; more like a sure thing. In addition, since most petrochemical development is no longer domestic, the ability (or desire?) of petrochemical conglomerates to maintain stable pricing no longer exists. Therefore the reasons for Big Oil to get any kind of a tax break no longer exists.
All of the cost of continuing to give these breaks to Big Oil is paid by the rest of the American taxpayers, to make up the shortfall of what the petrochemical giants should be paying; but aren’t. In light of this, how this inequitable and unfair taxation policy can continue to be allowed (actually supported) by the U.S. Congress is impossible to understand or explain. Unfortunately the why of the continuing of this clearly bad tax policy is all too easy to see. Big Oil gives loads of money to many Congress members as direct campaign contributions, and now thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, unlimited amounts of money (bribes?) through Political Action Committees.
The American people would be much better served if just small part of the money given away as corporate welfare were directed towards giving sustainable energy project a leg up with low cost loans or grants. This smaller real investment in our collective future as a nation would bring us many times the cost in the benefit of cleaner, more efficient energy. This would enable our still extensive manufacturing power to get back in production competitively. And that would break the back of the closely held domestic and foreign corporate power that is leading us in the wrong direction economically and socially.
Supplying Congress members with vast amounts of money to try to make sure their tax breaks stay in place is the most destructive part of the current political behavior allowed in Washington. Every penny of tax not paid by Big Oil becomes extra tax on the rest of us. It is absolutely not in the interest of the American people. The price of fossil fuels is not only the extra economic burden it places on each of the ordinary citizens of this nation; but also the threat to our basic economic well being created by this funding of unrestricted corporate power. The obvious and open corruption, resulting in all the special favors it buys, must be eliminated in order for our democratic system of government to survive. Failure to eliminate the bribery of American political officials, that enables them to serve the interest of the most wealthy and thus most powerful special interests; will result in our system of government degenerating into a neo-feudalism.
It is creating an economic structure in our society where the few very rich control not only the major industries and key means of production, but also control and run the government. The American government, in the original plan of the Founding Fathers, was created to make the rules and regulations designed to protect Americans from the rise of an all powerful aristocracy which controlled the land and industry, and thus the key means of production before our Revolution. The American Revolution rejected and threw out the feudalism of its time and replaced it with a government which could only act with the consent of the citizens and in accordance with their wishes.
In 2012 the government may not be acting in accordance with our wishes, but; American citizens still have the opportunity exercise our right to make decisions about who will represent us in Washington and at the state and local level. It is becoming ever more clear that many of our public officials do not truly represent the vast majority us or work in our best interest. We must seek and find candidates from among ourselves who we can elect to go to City Councils, County Legislatures, State Capitals and Washington to truly represent us and do the right things for the best interest of the majority of those they represent, while protecting the rights of those in the minority.
It’s not as hard as it sounds. Big money may buy big speech in TV ads, etc.; but money can’t vote. Only real people, not “corporate people” can vote. We can pick people who will work for us, not work for the “corporate people” who bribe them. Most of us know it’s not right to take money from companies or industries and then pass laws that aid them at the expense of the majority of our fellow citizens. Most good government is a matter of using the “golden rule” and/or plain common or sense. In a real democracy, which we still currently have, any citizen should and could be a good representative of their fellow citizens; some might even be talented leaders. Absent the old corrupt guard in public office, our government could function in the appropriate ways it can to be of benefit to all Americans.
The cost of our forced commitment to fossil fuels and the whole system of corruption of government that it represents is destroying what this country has worked and stood for, for over 200 years. The cost of our fossil fuel based economy is too high. We can’t afford it and fortunately if we put the necessary resources into developing robust sustainable energy production; we don’t have it. We can invent, create and work for a better, safer, cleaner, and fairer country. And we must if America is to stay a free and independent people and nation.