We’ve written quite a bit on Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle’s scheme to tax only the “big oil companies” to raise transportation funds, while making it a crime for the companies to pass the tax onto consumers. It’s an unworkable, invidious and economically damaging plan, packaged in populist tub-thumping.
Now Erin Roth, director of the Wisconsin Petroleum Council, raises another point that applies not just to Doyle’s scheme, but to all the demagogy wielded against “big oil.” He asks — and answers — the question, “Just who is ‘big oil’?” From the Green-Bay Press-Gazette:
Who is Big Oil in Wisconsin? The governor leads us to believe this tax is intended to be paid by the five global oil companies that he brought to Milwaukee for hearings last summer — Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips. In fact, these oil companies do not own or operate a single one of the 3,200 gasoline stations in Wisconsin. Gas stations selling these companies’ products are owned and operated by local businessmen and -women who live and work in your community.
Who owns Big Oil? There are now over 400,000 Wisconsin state employees and pensioners who own Big Oil stock in their retirement holdings, including the governor. Last year, the state of Wisconsin Investment Board reported that it holds some $400 million in ExxonMobil stock alone and that ExxonMobil represented the largest financial return of any other holding in their fund. Millions of individuals in Wisconsin also own oil company stock as part of their 401(k)’s, mutual funds and pension plans.
That’s a lot of demos to go agog over.
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