14 May 2011

America - Where One CEO can Afford to Buy an Entire Senate

This week, alpha males squared off against each other: Oil company CEOs and US Senators. Given that nothing confers respect like money, it was no contest.

So far this year, the five oil companies represented (Shell, Chevron, Exxon, Conoco, and BP) have made profits of $36 billion. More interestingly, each American CEO made more than the entire American senate before which they appeared.

Combined, the 100 Senators made $17.4 million last year (each makes $174,000).

Chevron's CEO made $16.3 million, Conoco's CEO made $17.9 million and Exxon's made $29 million.

America is nothing if not predictable. It doesn't matter that the oil companies are so profitable when the the deficit is so large. Their $2 billion in tax breaks will continue.

Senator Schumer asked, did any one of these CEOs want to go on the record as saying that perhaps their tax cuts were less important than any other, single program or issue? This after reminding them that cuts to education, health care, and social security were likely.

Not a single CEO could see how any of those programs were more important than their tax breaks.

Let me make an obvious but important point. These CEOs are not paid to show an interest in the American economy or the American people. They made it clear that if the marginal cost of producing oil in Texas were higher than producing it in Indonesia, they would shift production overseas. Their loyalty is to company profits.

A tax break of $1 will benefit Exxon. That dollar may be used to create a job in Saudi Arabia or Houston. Or be paid in dividends to an investor in Japan or San Francisco. There is no guarantee that the money will benefit the American economy. In fact, there is a guarantee that the money will be dispersed globally.

That, it seems to me, is worth remembering.

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