Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cap on Oil Profits

In my January post "Performing the Ritual" I wrote:

" This phenonomon is what I call "Performing the Altruistic Ritual." In today's political environment, all that is required is that you go through the motions of publicly declaring pure intentions, avering something like "It's not for me but for others." If you perform the ritual convincingly, anything goes."

I refer to this because Michigan's governor Jennifer Granholm wants to cap oil company profits at the federal level. This despite the fact that the State of Michigan has millions invested in the oil industry with investments in Exxon Mobile at the top.

According to the April 26th editorial page of the Detroit News,

"The state relies on the millions of dollars it rakes in from its oil and energy investments and gasoline taxes. In addition to its pension fund investments, the state has about $2.5 billion invested in the energy stocks, says Department of Treasury Spokesman Terry Stanton."

So why does Granholm want to put a cap on the number of golden eggs the goose lays?
Performing the ritual. Like I said in my Jan. post "Performing the Ritual Update":

"In that post I pointed out that according to the morality of altruism, actually helping people is irrelevent, that going through the motions of helping them however, is absolutely essential. And if you perform this ritual convincingly, it doesn't matter if you actually help them or not."

So it is with Gov. Granholm. The kind of help she is trying to provide is protection from the bad guy oil companies. She needs someone to blame to deflect attention away from Government policies which she does not want to face. The fact that hurting the oil companies will not benefit Michiganders in any way but will in fact hurt them, is irrelevant. Performing the ritual, going through the motions of helping them, absolutely essential. The editorial continues:

"Michigan's financial directors know oil and utilities provide a windfall for the state and they would be foolish to back away from such rich investments and punish current and future retirees.

"Granholm is being disingenuous in her feverish pursuit of a cap on oil company profits. On Tuesday, she asked state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Lansing, and Rep. Marie Donegan, D-Royal Oak, to jump on the bandwagon and sponsor resolutions calling for federal action."

If the high gas prices are providing a windfall for the state of Michigan, how come they are not the target of a windfall profits tax? Why don't we put a cap on how much money the state pension plans can make? Why isn't the Governor hauled before a Senate hearing to explain her greed?

The editorial made good points but only from a pragmatic viewpoint. The moral arguement in support of the oil companies' right to keep the money they earn, was completely missing. It's missing because the political concept of individual rights is missing. Individual rights won't be restored until the moral code that makes them possible--rational self interest--is grasped by enough people who will then demand our politicians start thinking in those terms.

2 comments:

trumpeteer said...

I'm sorry but the thought of government capping profit amounts sounds scary to me. What next? Capping the size of offices? I also can't help but think that a windfall profit tax is a bad idea that will trickle down to the pump (no pun intended). I think it'd be best for government to back off and focus on more important issues.

Mike N said...

Trumpeteer:
Agreed!