January 31st, 2006

Peak Oil, Peak Profits, Peak Stupidity

by Philip Baruth

The New York Times confirms what most of us have long suspected: “Exxon Mobil Corporation said today that its 2005 earnings totaled $36.13 billion, an increase of 42 percent from the previous year. The amount is the largest annual profit ever for an American company.”

Largest profit for an American company ever.

Any company. Ever.

And let’s face it: American companies are pretty much synonymous with obscenely big profits.

The Republicans in Washington are fond of pointing out that elections have consequences. Here is a consequence — on a scale that beggars the imagination.

Two gung-ho oil industry boosters team up in the White House. Largest profit ever.

When he was selling us the War in Iraq, Vice President Cheney promised us cheap, plentiful gas post-invasion. If that prediction had come true, of course, Exxon and other crude-oil types would have recorded historically low profits.

Stock prices would have tanked, bonuses receded. Some most excellent friends of Bush and Cheney might have lost their jobs, their homes, their most recent wives and the plastic surgeons and personal trainers who tend them.

So let me ask you this: Do you actually believe that at the same time Cheney was promising us gas as cheap as water, he was promising the same thing to those best friends whose escalating lifestyles depend on the reverse?

Hard to imagine.

More likely he was quietly saying something like the reverse would be true, at least in the short-term: war and resistance and outmoded equipment would shrink Iraq’s output dramatically for a year or two, pumping up US oil profits.

Any thinking person would have reached that conclusion, but especially oilmen with experience in war zones like the Persian Gulf. That record profits continue with no end in sight three years into the war must exceed even Cheney’s true best guesses.

In any event, the fortunes of America’s oil company executives were not left to chance. They were protected nine ways from Sunday, like the Iraqi Oil Ministry during the invasion.

And now the saber-rattling over Iran is sending the whole profit-spiral skyward yet again. This time they’re talking seriously about 100$ a barrel. It’s maddening if you allow yourself to think about it for even half a minute.

So let me direct this last line to anyone in America who voted for Bush — even once — and who has ever — even once — complained about the price of gas:

Welcome to the world that stupidity built. And that would be your stupidity, in case you were still confused.