For the life of me, I cannot understand how the people of the United States continues to let a chosen few run roughshod over our political discussions, much less how much we pay for gasoline.
The “outrage of the week” for me has been the slow crawl of gasoline prices and how a few blockheads can go on television, and have half of the country thinking that drilling, building Canadian pipelines, or some other bogus claim is the actual reason.
How can Americans be so abjectly stupid? A year ago, ExxonMobil’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, told Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing that the oil would be about $60-70/barrel if the speculators in oil futures were not driving up the price.
Well, if that’s not from the horse’s mouth, I’d like to know what is.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has repeatedly pointed out that oil speculators, and their ability and propensity to drive up the oil has many times the weight of driving up prices than would anything this or any other president can do.
Wall Street, again, and the lack of regulation thereof, is wreaking havoc with consumers and 99% of the U.S. suffers for it.
One should also note that these higher prices, caused by speculators, play right into the hands of Russian “President” Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and myriad others who wish to harm the United States. Why else would Iran keep announcing its nuclear progress to the world, or threaten the Straight of Hormuz?
I’ll tell you why. Because every time it does, speculators drive the prices higher, even in the face of higher supplies, lower consumptions and weaker demand.
And Republicans would have it no other way, despite, no, because of the hardships that higher prices cause. Every time one of those signs outside fuel stations clicks up a few pennies, every single driver that sees them grows a little more fitful, and a little more willing to believe that U.S. energy policy can do something about their pain.
Secretary Reich reminds us that, historically, 30 percent of oil futures’ trades were conducted by speculators. Today, that number is 64 percent, and it is a relatively small group of traders.
To stop Wall Street from playing “beat the house” with our hard-earned money, we should enact at least a $10.00 transaction tax on speculator transactions. Note, this is not a tax on oil itself or even on oil companies who would simply pass along the increased cost to consumers. It is a tax on speculative profits made on Wall Street trading desks.
As a broader plan to bring down our national debt, and widen the base of federal taxpayers to include every single person enjoying the freedoms and benefits that our tax dollars supply, a similar 1ȼ tax should be imposed on every financial transaction completed for goods or services by anyone on U.S. soil, (http://hg.scimth.net/2012/01/07/europe-america-one-penny-solution/). Participants like oil companies themselves, airlines, trucking companies, etc., who have a legitimate interest in hedging the prices they receive or pay for oil should be exempt. But, the speculators should be taxed.
The tax would marginally reduce the net returns, but not the risk, of oil speculation and thus would lead to a reduction of the speculation-driven high prices for oil, and gasoline. Instead of the money going into the speculators’ coffers, families could use it to buy needed goods and services and spur economic growth.
To make the tax even more politically achievable, all the revenues should be dedicated to debt reduction.
The President and Democratic Congressional leaders could propose this… now. This is a winning issue. Not only for the American people, but for the economy, and for the President and Democrats. The fight itself exposes the real causes of the high and rising gas prices, and will put into stark relief the differences between those who are fighting to get prices down and those who attack the prices but not the real culprits. I would end the misinformation and deflection of the issue onto the President, who has no more control over the price at the pump than you or I.
Let Republicans, if they dare, side with the oil speculators… and serve Putin’s and Iran’s interests at the same time. They have declared war on women’s rights, the suffering middle class, and the entire Hispanic population in the U.S.
Don’t let them pull a Houdini with gasoline prices by shifting the blame onto the President.
Do it LOUD. Do it NOW!
- Exxon chief sees oil markets well-supplied (marketwatch.com)