The Market Will Solve the Energy Crisis Yeah Right

A blast from the past (and the future.)

Aug 2, 2008

by Olivia LaRosa

A giggling nod to Gilda Radner’s character on Saturday Night Live.

A Mr. Richard Fader from New Jersey writes:

Dear Roseann Roseannadanna,

Recently, you said something about nationalizing the oil companies. How will that help solve the energy crisis?

Any student of corporate power understands that after a brief period of consumer and taxpayer outcry in the 1960s and early 1970s, corporations were concerned that their ability to act with impunity and their superhuman powers* were threatened, and made plans to recapture and expand that power. Thus, we saw them begin to fund right-wing “think” tanks, eviscerate public education, exert pressure on journalists worldwide, and begin to consolidate their hold on global media. Thirty-five years ago, corporations provided approximately 1/2 of the US annual tax revenue. Five years ago, that figure had dropped to less than 5% of annual tax revenue. Still, it was not enough of a tax cut for them.

The U.S. is the third-largest producer of oil in the world, and 31 percent of that production comes from land owned by the federal government

So, why aren’t US taxpayers benefiting from the oil that lies under Federal land? Why were the oil rights given away to corporations in the first place? What genius thought that policy up? Turns out it was NO GENIUS. It was the corporations themselves, who paid off politicians in order to steal the public goods and turn them into private profit. Giving away the railroad concession to corporations constituted the first major act of corporate welfare in US history. Think for a moment: what if we had just raised taxes a little bit, built public railroads, and turned the immense profit earned back out into the economy to multiply, instead of seeing it wind up in the hands of the already-rich? We would have a healthy functioning rail system, rather than the trainwreck of a system we now have on our hands.

No one can convince me that turning over control of these valuable assets to people who are unaccountable to anyone but stockholders, rather than accountable public institutions, is a rational policy.

People claim that the government wastes money. Government waste is auditable and manageable. Corporate waste is neither.

A bureaucratic oversight has allowed 24 oil companies to avoid more than $1.3 billion in royalties for the privilege of extracting oil and natural gas from U.S. territory in the Gulf of Mexico – with foreign companies responsible for 55 percent of that total. But this $1.3 billion in forgone royalties pales in comparison to the $60 billion that Americans stand to lose in royalty revenue over the life of these leases.

Unsaid: US companies are responsible for 45 percent of the total. That money did not come back into the hands of the American taxpayer. It was offshored into private banking institutions in so-called “tax havens.”

After spending seven years in the legal field and studying legal history, I think that I can provide a plausible explanation for this behavior. Although they are fully aware that these acts are illegal, these companies know that it will take quite some time to discover that they have failed to pay. These companies know that the investigative arms of government agencies have been intentionally crippled or eliminated by Republican politicians, primarily, who seek to drink their fill from the public trough with impunity. I am not a Democrat, either, but it appears to me that Democratic policies are at least policies, rather than simple wholesale plundering of the public wealth for the benefit of the few.

*Google corporate personhood. Corporations are immortal, and have limited liability for their bad acts that no mere human has ever achieved (perhaps with the exception of the members of the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations.)

If is isn’t one thing, it’s another! If it isn’t this, it’s that!

And this: should a company be able to shut down satellite communications for first responders in 13 states because of a contract dispute which they LOST in court?

I will allow you to write your own article about this one.

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