the profit motive

Last week ExxonMobil, Shell, and Marathon Oil all reported double digit profit increases for the 3rd quarter of 2005. While the usual suspects engage in their typical wailing and gnashing of teeth over capitalism doing its job, may I be one of the first to say congratulations. Congratulations to ExxonMobil for $9.92 billion. Congratulations to Royal Dutch Shell for $9.03 billion. Congratulations to Marathon Oil, a local Houston company, for their $770 million. That’s how the business works.
What I find amazing is how everyone immediately points to higher gasoline prices as the source of all this “obscene” profit. Is it just me or have gasoline prices been rising since at least 2001? So this increase (which actually lessened in the last couple months) cannot be solely responsible for increased profits during three months of this year.

Furthermore, there is a profit more important and sinister than the one oil companies are legitimately making from the price of their products. According to the Tax Foundation, the federal government has received more tax revenue from gasoline purchases since 1977 than oil companies have received profit from them. While this comparison uses revenue for government and only profit for industry and ignores industry total revenue, the fact that the federal government has received over $1.34 trillion from gas taxes alone since that year should be immediately recognized as as the real “obscene” profit here.
If the federal government were really so concerned about how “high” fuel prices are affecting consumers, they would eliminate or at the very lease halve federal gasoline taxes.

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Religion of Peace updates

Blast Kills 5 Israelis, Erodes Peace Hopes
A 20-year-old Palestinian blacksmith blew himself up at a falafel stand in an open-air market Wednesday, killing five Israelis and wounding more than 30 in the deadliest attack in the country in more than three months.
The bombing stifled faint peace hopes following Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip. The blast also embarrassed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who only hours earlier had scolded militant groups for repeatedly violating a truce.
The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, saying the attack was to avenge the killing of its West Bank leader by Israeli forces this week.
The bomber struck while the market in the central town of Hadera was bustling a day after being closed for the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.
After the attack, the bloodied body of a man in his 50’s lay on the ground among scattered fruits and mangled metal shards. Rescue workers covered other bodies with blankets, walking on pools of blood and shattered glass. A section of the falafel stand’s metal roof hung from a eucalyptus tree high above the market.

Iran’s New President Says Israel ‘Must Be Wiped Off the Map’
Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told a group of students at an anti-Israel event on Wednesday that Israel “must be wiped off the map” and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA news agency reported.
He was speaking to about 4,000 students at a program called “The World Without Zionism,” in preparation for an annual anti-Israel demonstration held on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. …
“The establishment of a Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world,” the news agency reported him as saying. “The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of the war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land.”
Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, “As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.” …
“Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury,” he said. He added that any Islamic leader “who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world.”

Religious war? Why, what makes you say such a silly thing?

so does that make the Pope fallible too?

The Roman Catholic Church has published a document entitled “The Gift of Scripture“, which says that ‘[t]he Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation…but…“We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”‘

In other words…. “You know those parts of the Bible that tell you what you can and can’t do? Sure, those are true. Everything else? Yeah, probably not. But don’t worry, we’re still going to tell you how to live so you don’t have to think for yourself.”

I am Jack’s progressive evolution.

indict this

So Tom Delay was handed a second indictment today.

yawn

It goes without saying that if my Congressman is convicted of any charges, he should immediately resign his seat. I am glad he stepped down from his Majority Leader position until this is all over. It was a very honorable move (though of course required of him) to do it so immediately.
However, there are two very important points:

1) I don’t think Delay has a chance in hell of being convicted of any of this. This is obviously politically motivated, probably to weaken his re-election chances next year, since Nick Lampson has announced his intent to run for Delay’s seat.

2) I don’t think the things with which Delay is charged should be illegal in the first place. Individuals (and thereby corporations) should be able to donate time, money, or services to any political campaign or organization without limits on amount, time, form, or relationship. The whole campaign finance reform movement is nonsense. It is no business of anyone else what I do with my money, ESPECIALLY in the political arena. If I want to express my support for a political candidate or idea, the government is the LAST entity that should be able to tell me I can’t do so.

entitlement reigns

Well, I survived a hurricane. We evacuated, but we survived.
We stayed at a company camp of a family friend with about 15 family members and another family. It was a big place.
The entire time we were there, one of the family friends was on the phone trying to register for her FEMA money so she could make sure she could get as much assistance as she could. The day that the guys and I went back to town to survey the damage and gather supplies, she and the rest of the girls went to the local civic center and library where she finished her registration and brought home two large boxes full of food donated by residents of the area. Perhaps I should note here that none of us are wallowing in poverty. Her justification the entire weekend was that she has paid all her taxes all her life and now she’s finally going to get something back.
This attitude infuriates me. I can understand if you have a tree through your house, or if it has just been swallowed by the ocean, but these people had no substantial damage to their house. Others in the area weren’t so well off. Sure, her husband lost a week of work, but she works for herself selling artistic works. It’s not like they’re going to have to get food stamps and stand in the unemployment line for 6 months while their city is being rebuilt. Her husband is going back to work on Monday.
Even worse, my mother is planning to apply for food stamps as evacuees. My dad rents heavy equipment, which means the next six months for him are going to be extremely busy and equally profitable. They also have zero damage to their home. My mother has only been working a few temp jobs here and there because she hasn’t found a permanent one, so she lost no wages. And my father was actually paid his base salary (no commission) for his time off. Taking any monetary assistance would be nothing short of theft.
But because assistance is available, they’re all going to get theirs. They doesn’t need it, but they’re going to get it. They could just as easily buy the food they need to live at the camp. It’s not like they’re still paying a light bill or anything while they’re up there.
Harris County where I live was finally declared a federal disaster area this past week. That means we too are entitled to compensation and various forms of reimbursement for expenses for our evacuation and/or losses. However, we didn’t lose anything except some time off work, and our evacuation was little more than a long weekend vacation.
Sponging off the good will of others or worse, the government, when you aren’t in dire need of succor is pathetic and disgusting. Take care of your damn self.