Fuel-ler….? Fuel-ler….?

By February 12, 2008Energy

The American Petroleum Institute’s new interview with Ben Stein — actor, author, economist, lawyer — shows Stein doing what he does best, reminding Americans of how fortunate we are to live in a prosperous, free country. In this case, Stein talks about how the oil and gas industry makes our way of life possible, and he rejects the class warfare wielded against energy suppliers.

Stein’s remarks are especially valuable given this week’s expected introduction of a House proposal to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry, a political maneuver that will inspire all sorts of invidious, anti-business rhetoric. Stein comments on the anti-oil industry invective:

As far as their profits, I mean, that is a matter of record. They make very large amounts of profits compared with what I earn each year, but very small on a percentage basis compared with what high tech companies make, or what finance companies make.

And, something that always bugs the heck out me…is that people say to me, ‘Oh look at how much oil companies make’ and I say, ‘Well who at the oil company are you mad at? Are you mad at the guy in the pick-up truck bringing the pizzas to the guys working on the rig? Are you mad at the guys on the rig getting wind and rain and sleet and snow in their face and getting frozen and getting pneumonia from working out in the cold? Are you mad at the people who serve the meals in the company cafeteria? Are you mad with the people who file all the papers with the regulatory agencies? Are you mad with the people who maintain the pipelines? Who are you angry at?’

API makes a related argument in a full-page ad today in The Washington Post, headlined, “Do you own an oil company?” A pie chart in the ad shows that ownership of oil and gas companies in 2007 was led, percentagewise, by mutual funds and other firms (29.5 percent), pension funds (27 percent) and individual investors (23 percent).

So when politicians inveigh against oil and gas industry profits, they could well be condemning you — and targeting your income at the same time.

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