Time serving two masters

So there they were; the heads of all the major oil companies. Not a one pulling in less than 25 million a year in bonuses and pay. All dressed up before the representatives of the American people, and every one of them sitting there with a straight face, not a giggle to be heard.  Opening statements were everything from, “ sorry we asked you guys to come out, we know how busy you are, “ to “ what the hell are you guys doing to America! “

The purpose behind the summoning, as we all know, are the less than calming gasoline prices we have all been facing as of late. Curiously, the others responsible for the price hikes were nowhere to be seen. Let’s face it; every state in the union makes a tax profit from the price of gasoline, as does the federal government. Which really mutes the point of our representatives sitting there complaining about the price of gas! No governors or federal officials were called upon or willing to take their turn in the hot seat.

So no one should have been surprised when the subject of taxes soon took over as the main topic rather than gasoline prices. After all, look who is running the show here. Suggesting everything from a compete overhaul of the taxation system covering corporate America, to defending their $2.1 billion dollars of tax breaks, the oil executives were quite comfortable explaining that in all fairness, they weren’t overcharging a gas hungry America for product!

The President, when asked about the oil prices recently, replied that while he agreed things were out of hand, there was only one way to reduce the price of gas. Use less, and the price will come down. The oil company executives on the other hand said if we use less, they have plenty of places to sell their gas. Being global companies, they for sure have other markets.

Semantics quite amusingly played part in the hearings. In what must have caused many to take a deep breath, one executive said that the tax breaks were not tax breaks at all, but legitimate tax deductions shared by many other companies.  Who could argue with such logic? “ Everyone else is getting these breaks, why get upset if we are?” Citing the fact that computer companies make twice the profit gas companies do on every dollar, the collective response from the group was a “get over it, it could be worse” attitude.

Eventually, the hearings turned from tax breaks to the needs of the oil companies being better addressed by Congress. After all, corporate America has a vote too! The soon to pass bills which will open up vast tracts of ocean floor to oil exploration in both the Pacific and Atlantic, will increase the supply of oil and hopefully reduce prices for all were applauded by the oil executives. And in a closing note the undertone of the meetings left few realizing, that should congress eliminate even one dime of their tax break, exploration would suffer.

And for sure all the Congressmen nodded they knew what that was about; suffering that is. To the casual observer however, the hearings left one with the feeling of what it must be like to serve two masters.  The one running the show and the ones who are paying for it!


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