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Senator Barack Obama today once again attacked oil companies, Exxon in particular, as greedy nefarious corporations who seek to bribe officials and prevent American energy independence.
Well, I have a question. If making “windfall” profits is greedy and a threat to our economy and way of life, why hasn’t the Senator spoken out against Google? Confused? Allow the Wall Street Journal to expain:
If Senator Obama is as exercised about “outrageous” profits as he says he is, he might also have to turn on a few liberal darlings. Oh, say, Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett’s outfit pulled in $11 billion last year, up 29% from 2006. Its profit margin — if that’s the relevant figure — was 11.47%, which beats out the American oil majors.
Or consider Google, which earned a mere $4.2 billion but at a whopping 25.3% margin. Google earns far more from each of its sales dollars than does Exxon, but why doesn’t Mr. Obama consider its advertising-search windfall worthy of special taxation?
Btw, I used Google just because it is a ubiquitous brand (and as Erick has pointed out often up to no good). As the WSJ editorial points out, however, this arbitrary demagogic populism is worrisome:
The point isn’t that these folks (other than Mr. Clinton) have something to apologize for, or that these firms are somehow more “deserving” of windfall tax extortion than Big Oil. The point is that what constitutes an abnormal profit is entirely arbitrary. It is in the eye of the political beholder, who is usually looking to soak some unpopular business. In other words, a windfall is nothing more than a profit earned by a business that some politician dislikes. And a tax on that profit is merely a form of politically motivated expropriation.
It’s what politicians do in Venezuela, not in a free country.
So what is it Senator? Are you ready to go after Google and the other “overly-profitable” sectors of our economy or will you admit that you are playing politics with the economy in order to win an election?