Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bailout Big Oil?

A year ago, liberals were incensed that "greedy" oil companies were collecting so-called windfall profits. That is, more profit than liberals pronounced to be appropriate. At the height of their profitability, oil companies were earning 8-9 percent profit margins -- or about a third of the profit margins of many high-tech and computer related companies such as Google. Of course, there was no outcry that government should seize the "windfall" profits of Google and similar firms in Big Tech. CNN Money posted a fair-minded commentary about the overreaction to oil company profits here:

http://money.cnn.com/2008/04/29/markets/thebuzz/

Now it's 2009, and my how things have changed. Crude oil prices have dropped through the floor, and gasoline prices have naturally followed that decline. The alleged windfall profits of 2007 and 2008 have evaporated, and Big Oil is trimming its workforce like so many other industries. Today, Royal Dutch Shell reported its first quarterly loss in 10 years. Hear that liberals? A "greedy" oil giant is losing money.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aFukDsc4_55I

So where are the liberal calls for government intervention now? If they thought it was government's role to set prices and manage profitability for an entire sector of the economy when that sector was enjoying good profits, why not let that work the other way, too? While they're busy bailing out banks, auto makers, and the rest, liberals should take a moment to remember the blue collar employees of oil companies. They're getting pink slips. Jobs are on the line. Isn't it time for the government to intervene and give some stimulus to oil companies?

Of course, government bureaucrats are notoriously bad businessmen, as evidenced by the poor performance of state enterprises around the globe and throughout the decades. That performance deteriorates further when it's influenced by social activists, populists, and other political actors of all stripes. But there's no convincing liberals. For them, there is no victory that should not be tempered, no pain that cannot be alleviated, and no problem that cannot be solved by government, and preferably with a massive wealth transfer from their political and class enemies.

Alas, "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem," as the greatest president of the 20th Century reminded us in his first inaugural address in 1981.

Just as calls for windfall profits taxes were foolish and counterproductive (and hypocritical) a year ago, a bailout or other assistance to oil companies and other non-defense sectors now would be equally misguided. Bailout madness has gone too far already. Who can imagine what harm we have now done to our children's and grandchildren's future prosperity now that we have decided to borrow against it to purchase corporate jets, remodel executive restrooms, subsidize social programs, and fund political activist groups with the Democrats' dishonestly named stimulus bill?

Thanks to Barack Hussein Obama and his Democrat henchmen, future generations of Americans are likely to be enslaved dependents of the state.

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