Plenty of blame for high gas prices (and profits) to go around

April 26, 2011

Peter Morici is obviously a learned man in the field of economics. Unfortunately, he reveals his extreme political bias again and again, most recently in his op-ed ("Obama's failed oil policy," April 26). The anti-Obama voices in our country are loud and strong, anxious to attribute any negative event as the fault of the current administration. It is difficult to lend much credence to sources with such clear agendas as Professor Morici.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of Mr. Morici's diatribe is when he opines that "…profiteering in the gasoline market appears … remote." Really? Has this professor of economics taken a recent look at oil company profits? In the last 10 years, the top five oil companies in the United States have reported profits of nearly $500 billion. These are the good guys, right, professor? They would never take advantage of a crisis to fix the price of their products.

Oil companies are, regrettably, like every other corporate entity in America today. They all operate off the bottom line so as to increase the value of their stock and enrich the stockholders and executives. One of the primary ways that corporations accomplish this is by buying politicians with "campaign contributions," which are ultimately rewarded through government protection of their corporate interests. Simply take a look at the track record of big business since the deregulation era of Ronald Reagan.

Banks, hedge funds, commodities, oil companies, pharmaceuticals, automobile manufacturers, and the list goes on. All of them are able to cut corners and outright cheat in the name of fiduciary responsibility to the stockholder. And they often get away with it under the umbrella of protection of bought politicians. Consumer value and safety are the victims and will continue to be as long as corporate America gets the major pass that they have gotten. The other part of the triad — non-business special interest groups like unions and associations — bear equal responsibility as our politicians pander their power in return for large blocks of voters.

The Obama administration has been as economically flawed as any since the Jimmy Carter presidency. But by simply flailing away at Obama 24/7, we lose sight of the major contributing factors to these crises.

As the global economy exerts more competitive pressure on corporations, they will find more ways to increase profits at the expense of the consumer. Until we take steps to stop this obscene relationship of the government/corporate/special-interest triad, the footprints of big oil in this gas crisis will be obvious to all who are reasoned enough to see the truth. For those with the tunnel vision narrow enough to blame Obama for everything, it will remain a mystery.

Arthur Lapenotiere, Westminster

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