Thursday, June 07, 2007

Stossel for President

John Stossel is a great voice for liberty, and one of the few in mainstream media. Based off of one of his "Give me a break" segments on 20/20, he wrote up an op-ed about gas prices and profit.

This is what he wishes oil company execs. would say in response to criticism about their profits:
"What are you complaining about? What do you think we do with our profits? Buy fancy cars and homes? Well, we do, actually, but nearly all the money goes to looking for more oil and following environmental rules that you want us to follow. You should want us to make more profit. Anyway, we make less profit per gallon than your beloved government takes in taxes."

The last bit about taxes versus profit is really interesting. (read more here) First, because so few people know or think about that. Second, most people don't seem to care. The government takes more of their money, but they criticize the oil company profits. There's really an absurd kind of envy going on.

I also think people think that they'll get a piece of the taxes, but the profits just go to the oil company. Well, more likely the profits benefit people in many more ways than they imagine.

First, the profits go to the shareholders (dividends and increasing stock prices) and through mutual funds and pensions, a lot of 'regular folk' are shareholders in oil companies and so benefit from the profits.

Second, even if one is not a shareholder, each of us benefits greatly from a strong stock and capital market: either because we own stock in other companies or because we like to buy stuff from companies and these companies are largely made possible by a strong stock and capital market.

Third, a lot of profit gets invested back into research and development that ultimately makes gas cheaper and cleaner.

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