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Joe Bialek

Energy Part 2

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In response to the article appearing in most major newspapers across the country concerning the $8.4 billion profit reported by Exxon. Concern over profits by this oil company has brought about accusations of gouging the American consumer. According to the article, "CEOs from Exxon and its industry peers have already appeared twice at Senate hearings and were asked to justify their profits shortly after reporting them to shareholders." This has to be an American first. I have never heard of a company being called to justify it's profits. One wonders if an extension of this idea could be made to other companies in other industries as well.

Per the article, "Lawmakers believe the profits are made on the backs of consumers who are paying a national average of $2.91 a gallon - 68 cents more than last year. Exxon says a strong commodities market combined with fortuitous planning and prudent management are producing record numbers." This should make Americans ask the fundamental question: what is the difference between what a public non-profit utility company provides and what a private for-profit oil company provides? Afterall, they both sell energy to all United States citizens. The difference is that natural gas and electricity are sold in the form of a public good whereas oil is sold in the form of a private good. Accordingly, on the grounds of promoting national security, the United States Congress should convert all oil companies to utility companies. This would eliminate the windfall profits and force the oil industry to earn just enough income to cover operating expenses just as natural gas and electric utility companies are required to do. The resulting drop in gasoline prices would further stimulate the economy and lighten the energy stranglehold upon the United States by the Middle East. It would also eliminate the influence of the oil lobby. In this case, desperate times call for deliberate measures.

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