I first posted the commentary piece below back in August of 2008. I decided to repost it because today, with gas prices once again hovering around $4 a gallon, we have the utterly predictable "Inquisition" on Capitol Hill, with political hacks attacking oil company executives for basically doing what they are supposed to be doing - producing petroleum products.
These professional political pirates can try as they might to demonize petroleum companies, but the reality is that Big Oil contributes far more to my standard of living, and that of every other American, than all of the blowhards in the Congress put together.
Why I Love "Big Oil"
Big Oil is my friend. Thanks to those wonderful American oil companies, I can jump into my own vehicle and go where I want, when I want. I live in Minneapolis. My youngest son lives in Chicago. If I decide to drive down to see him on the spur of the moment, I can, and I will be assured that I will have the fuel necessary to get there and back.
Now, since gas hit nearly $4 a gallon, have I altered my driving habits a bit to make better use of the fuel that I buy? Sure. Have I canceled a trip here and there, or combined several errands into one? Of course. But the important thing is that I get to decide for myself if the increased cost of each mile driven is worth it - or not. That's what a free market allows - choice.
Don't get me wrong - I would love it if gas were back at a buck a gallon, but even at $4 the freedom a private vehicle provides is simply unequaled in all of human history - a trip that took 3 days a hundred years ago, now takes less than an hour. Amazing.
And freedom is the real issue.
Unfortunately, not everyone values personal liberty. Those who advocate European-style public transportation over private automobiles have always had a collectivist (dare I say Marxist?) bent. But their view is not the result of some deep desire for "efficiency" - the truth is that these people simply hate the freedom that a personal vehicle represents. The idea of mobs of people stuffed into buses and trains practically sends them into swoons of socialist euphoria.
Thus they demonize the very companies that have contributed to a level of personal freedom that has made America the envy of the world. They attack petroleum companies for "obscene" profits, despite the fact that the amount of money that an American oil company makes on a gallon of gas is...about a dime. The only reason the dollar figures for oil company profits are so large is that Americans consume 10,000 gallons of gas every second!
Dollar for dollar, Coca-Cola is TWICE as profitable as Exxon.
Meanwhile, after trying to figure out how to squeeze the last few pennies of taxes out of every gallon of gasoline, these nanny-state ninnies throw billions of tax-payer dollars at "Big Corn" in the form of ethanol subsidies - a policy that has failed to do anything other than drive world-wide food prices through the stratosphere.
As for me, I say "God Bless Exxon" - and every other American oil company. They've done far more for me than any Congressman, Senator, or President ever has. They've given me freedom.
So, if you want my vote, there is something you can do about "Big Oil" - you can get off their backs, and get out of their way.