Out of Control Policy Blog

Oil profits are our friend

Cliff Slater argues that big oil's excess profits are good for us.

There is something breathtakingly audacious about politicians taking oil companies to task for "excessive profits" and considering a special "excess profits" tax. In other words, telling companies like Exxon Mobil that they have been taking more of our money than they should. This is especially droll coming from politicians who – always and incessantly – do precisely that with taxes.

Besides that, 35 percent of Exxon's profits already go in taxes.[i] So, if the profits are excessive, so are the taxes on those profits, but we do not hear of any politicians calling for a "windfall taxes" rebate to us motorists.

. . .

However, if you still believe that Exxon is excessively profitable, then go buy some shares. A caveat though: In March of this year, when oil was $40 a barrel and before any hurricanes, you could have bought Exxon Mobil shares for $62. Today, with oil up to $55 a barrel, hurricanes galore, and sky-high gas prices, you can buy Exxon shares for $55 – a 10 percent decline.[v] You might want to figure that one out.

Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


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