The Real Story Behind High Oil Prices

I’m getting tired of the knuckleheads on Capitol Hill wasting time parading oil executives into hearing rooms to pummel them over profits every week rather than actually solving the problem. Isn’t this still America? Aren’t we still a capitalist nation? A quick lesson on the purpose of a business: to make money. Yes, it’s that simple. The purpose is no greater or less than that. We should be cheering their profits.

Let’s say I were to grant you that a corporation could make “too much” money (I won’t, but let’s say I did). The oil industry has a profit margin well below the average of all industries. The reason for the huge profits in absolute numbers is simply the fact that it is the largest industry in the world. It would be like Joe’s Bar & Grill complaining that Applebee’s makes too much in comparison.

Anyway, let’s move on. Let’s take a look at what the mental midgets in Washington have done to address the issue of high oil prices:

  • They have made ANWR off limits to drilling
  • They forbid drilling off of the Florida and California coasts
  • They will not allow leases for drilling in the Gulf while China and Venezuela have signed leases
  • They are shutting down oil fields in Colorado
  • They won’t allow shale oil field development in some Western states
  • The EPA just added polar bear to the protected list even though their numbers have increased substantially. Oh yeah, and the polar bears are in the same area where we need to drill for oil.
  • They passed legislation allowing us to sue OPEC–I’m sure that won’t piss them off and cause them to cut off our oil.
  • There have been rumblings of a windfall profits tax (even though I pointed out earlier that they are below average in their profit margins). Trust me, increasing a company’s expenses, will not lead to lower prices.
  • All 3 presidential candidates have promised to pass cap and trade legislation (to fight the phantom global warming problem). The EPA estimates that this will increase the price of gasoline by $1.50 per gallon–other say it could be more like $5.00 per gallon.
  • They have not allowed the construction of a new refinery in over 30 years.
  • They will not allow the deployment of coal-to-oil technology. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal and could be energy independent with this technology.
  • They won’t reduce the federal gas tax–not even for the summer.

And they’re asking the oil executives why prices are so high? Stop the political grandstanding and provide real solutions folks.

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Where am I Anyway?

I mentioned that I am on vacation in Portland, Oregon this week. Well, that not quite correct. I’m actually in Vancouver, Washington. The people of Vancouver probably don’t like that I am saying Portland. However, it’s just easier than trying to explain where Vancouver is. Plus, if it weren’t for the Columbia River, this would be Portland. So there.

However, this got me thinking about all the places I’ve lived that have an identity crisis. I’m afraid it’s running rampant. Let’s take a look at them:

  • I was born in Lebanon–no, not the Middle Eastern country: Lebanon, Oregon
  • I then moved to Ontario–no, not California or Canada: Ontario, Oregon
  • My wife is from Vancouver–no, not Canada: Vancouver, Washington

The $2,200 Burger

Bryan Sampson just wanted a quick, cheap meal for his family. So he sent his wife to a Burger King in Meridian, Idaho. Sounds like a great Saturday afternoon meal right? Well, it was until he checked his bank account the next day and found that he had been charged $2,243.33 for a $22.43 meal!

He went back to the restaurant to get the problem resolved. However, the bk2.jpgassistant manager on duty cancelled the debit charge rather than reversing it. Apparently, this causes the charge to still show pending for 3 days. To make matters worse, the manager is out of town until Tuesday and apparently no one can fix it. Meanwhile, as of Sunday, Sampson has 7 overdraft charges (at $35 a pop) and rising on his account.

This is not the first time Burger King has done this. In 2006, they charged a man in Glendale, California $4,334.33 for a $4.33 meal. Now I get it–people make mistakes. But that’s why they should have safeguards in place for this. It would be a unique to each restaurant, but there should be an upper limit above which it prompts the cashier to confirm that the amount is correct. For Burger King, $50 would be a good limit before it requires confirmation. Of course, this just makes too much sense.

Last Iwo Jima Flag-Raiser Dies

Raymond Jacobs died on January 29, 2008 of natural causes in Redding, California. He is believed to be the last surviving member of the group photographed raising the United States flag over Iwo Jima during World War II on February 23, 1945. This photograph is believed to be one of the most reproduced photographs in history.

It is really difficult to watch this generation leave us. They gave so much of their most productive years to make this country strong, yet asked so little in return.

Many spent a good portion of their childhood in poverty during the Great Depression. They didn’t enjoy the affluent, care-free lifestyle that our kids enjoy today. They were working, many times to the exclusion of an education, to help put food on the table.

Then, as they were reaching adulthood, World War II broke out. From when the United States joined the war in 1941 until the war ended in 1946, 16 million served in the military. Many more served on the home front working in factories supporting the war effort, running recycling drives, bond drives, etc.

When they returned home, they were expected to join the workforce, start families, and build this country into an industrial giant. Once again, they did so with no complaints. However, they were effectively robbed of their childhood and their “oat-sowing” early adult years.

Of the 16 million that served in World War II, only about 3 million are still with us. To this day, they are a quiet, humble people. To them, they were just doing what anyone would do. However, I happen to agree that these are amazing giants that deserve the title The Greatest Generation.

To Raymond Jacobs and everyone else in his generation (military and civilian): We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your service to this country, and for your tireless work to make this the greatest nation this planet has ever known. We owe you a debt that we cannot ever hope to repay.