Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Statistics du Jour

From George Will’s column today:


Obama thinks government is not getting a "reasonable share" of oil companies’ profits, which in 2007 were, as a percentage of revenues (8.3 percent), below those of US manufacturing generally (8.9 percent). Exxon Mobil pays almost as much in corporate taxes to various governments as the bottom 50 percent of American earners pay in income taxes. Exxon Mobil does make $1,400 a second in profits - hear the sharp intakes of breath from liberals with pursed lips - but pays $4,000 a second in taxes and $15,000 a second in operating costs.

Discussions - 11 Comments

What is the usual source for numbers like these? Anybody know?

"Democrats will eventually embrace missile defense in Europe because they "will have nowhere else to go short of pre-emptive strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.""

I don't think so. I think that Democrats are perhaps still worried about Saudis with ariplanes or dirty bombs than about Iranians with missiles screaming over Europe. One is a clear and present danger, while the other is a much more distant and improbable one.

Second,

"Exxon Mobil does make $1,400 a second in profits - hear the sharp intakes of breath from liberals with pursed lips - but pays $4,000 a second in taxes and $15,000 a second in operating costs."

That sounds great, until we remember that Republicans want to decrease the taxes paid by Exxon Mobil, which will then increase the profits. Those profits are calculated AFTER taxes and operating costs, aren't they? So, after those staggering operating costs and staggering taxes, they are still making more profit than -- say -- people like me. We are sliding backwards, due in large part to the staggering costs of fuel.

Good to have Fung back.

Fung. Who is this "they"? If memory serves, the biggest owners of oil company stock are public pension funds and other institutions like Tiaa-Cref. If the government cuts corporate taxes, a significant portion of the the beneficiaries will be public employees and others like that.

Update: some statistics on who owns Exxon and the others.

Does money paid to the government to drill on public land (or water) count as a tax or an operating cost? That might increase the amount of money the government gets from the oil companies.

Hi Paul!

Publicola,

Are you suggesting that my TIAA-Cref retirement account is thriving because I have been funneling my gas dollars to myself, and that Exxon Mobil is just collecting with one hand, and forking it over to lucky investors like me, with the other?

In other words, I should be happy to be paying a mere 3-4 dollars per gallon, because that expense is compensated by my booming retirement account? I feel much better, thank you. I'll feel better yet, when the totals at the end of the quarter are greater than the totals at the beginning.

In the meantime, no one is suggesting that I recuse myself from any Supreme Court Decisions regarding the Exxon Valdez:

http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/blogs/shapley/alito-exxon-stock-47022803

I am suggesting that it's not simply an us v them proposition. If taxes on oil companies go down, it's not all bad for teachers, firemen, etc.

And if the data here are correct, profits are a relatively small percentage of the price we pay at the gas station. Profits plus refining costs are 17%. If profits are half of that, it means that at $4.00 per gallon it's less than $.40 per gallon. Sure, it would be nice to have that back, but it's not the largest portion of the price.

If corporate taxes decline, presumably it would decrease the cost of a gallon of gas.

The main reasons why gas has become so expensive have little to do with corporate profts. If they made 1 cent per gallon, people would still be complaining.

Pelosi should stipulate in her drilling plans that a) all oil that results from expanded drilling go to americans, and b) the first public lands opened up for drilling should be on the mall in Washington, D.C. next to every monument. Neocons would soon tire of having their picture taken next to the black-oozing belching oil well next to the Lincoln Memorial. Then again, maybe not, since the oil well just is their national monument.

Warren Buffett - a Democrat and Obama supporter - thinks it's a bad idea (and unfair) to target oil company profits with a windfall proft tax. I agree.

"I think it is very hard to have windfall taxes," Buffett said. "Steel has doubled in price. Is that a windfall for the steel producers? Sure. Corn is $7 a bushel; soybeans are at $15 a bushel. I don't think any candidate in his right mind with the number of electoral votes in farm states would say you ought to tax farms specially because they are getting a windfall."

"But they [farms] are getting a windfall from commodity prices," Buffett said. "Maybe they deserve it because commodities have been under priced, but to pick out one commodity - with copper at $3.60 a pound, you could say that the copper producers are getting a windfall. The networks are getting a windfall because of the Olympics. So, I don't think that picking anybody that's had a commodity that's increased in price a lot and saying that there's a special tax because of that makes any sense.

I guess Pelosi and Obama know more thant he world's most successful investor/businessman.

Publicola,

Of course, you are right that it is not as cut and dry as I might make it out to be.

It is also the case, however, that a dollar does not mean the same thing to Exxon as it does to a poor family -- one, by the way that very well may not enjoy owning stocks, because there is nothing left at the end of the pay period with which to dabble.

Regressive tax practices take a huge proportional bite out of the average family's pie, and a relatively small one out of the Exxon Mobils' of the world.

The profits you speak of are not available to too many Americans. Many of them are scanning the papers for news about factory closings, and reductions in force, and 'deselections," and they have little time or reason for reading the WSJ.

But, I will grant you that my TIAA-Cref news might be a little bit worse than it is, if not for the trillion dollars in profit enjoyed by Exxon Mobil. It reminds me a bit, of the dividend that I get every year from my credit union. They report the total dividends that are paid out at the end of the year, and it looks pretty impressive: "Our members recieved 5 million dollars in dividends!"

Then, in small letters, it says: " Fung enjoyed 85 cents of that." (they always call me 'Fung.')

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