Jane Chastain : Politically Direct

End Oil — No — All Subsidies

with 8 comments

The president has renewed his call to end the billions of dollars in oil subsidies so that he can “invest” the savings into alternative energy vehicles.   House Speaker John Boehner got caught up in the rhetoric and put his foot firmly in his mouth.  The speaker indicated that he might be interested in eliminating the subsidies for all but “small independent oil and gas companies.”

It is no secret that the Obama Administration wanted $5 a gallon gasoline.  Now that the president has achieved this goal,  he is looking to deflect public outrage by beating up on the oil and gas companies, again.  But is Boehner pilling on?  And what about eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for “big oil” but not “little oil”?

The GOP is supposed to believe in the free market.  If oil is such a valuable commodity then little oil should have no trouble attracting investors.  The truth is “big oil” is made up of millions of little investors.   If you have a retirement plan, chances are you are one of them.  Are you comfortable with this kind of favoritism?

If we subsidize little oil but not big oil then what about little mom and pop grocery stores?  After all, these stores have a hard time competing with the big chains and giants like Wal-Mart.   If we subsidize “little oil,” don’t we have a moral obligation to subsidize “little grocery” as opposed to “big grocery”?  What about little hardware stores and little clothing stores?  Shouldn’t these owners be standing in line for a government handout too?

The truth is that much of the rhetoric about subsidizing the oil companies is just that, rhetoric.  The Obama Administration counts virtually any revenue it allows a business to keep or reinvest as a tax break unless, of course, it is one of his favored industries.   Ronald J. Sutherland, did an analysis of these so-called subsidies “Big Oil at the Public Trough?” for the libertarian Cato Institute.  Sutherland concluded that these subsidies “are a small share of oil revenues and far less generous than the preferences and subsidies provided for rival businesses and technologies.”

Rival industries and environmental groups continue to churn out studies showing billions of dollars of subsidies that are supposedly flowing into the oil companies.  These subsidies fall into three primary categories:

  1. Tax deductions for expenses,
  2. Indirect expenditures in the form of defense outlays for the Middle East, the Alaska pipeline and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve  (Tanks and planes don’t run on windmills, therefore, the government has to buy oil and gas and make sure we have sufficient reserves.)
  3. The environmental costs related to oil consumption (The contribution to air pollution and global warming – we’re straining at gnats here!)

What we need is a level playing field.  Tax deductions should be the same for all related industries and that includes windmills and alternative fuels.    The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.

A little-known fact is that one out of every five dollars invested in alternative energy comes from the petroleum industry.  If and when alternative energy becomes cost-effective, the petroleum industry wants in on it.  What is wrong with that?

While we are on the subject of those dreaded subsidies, we should get rid of all of them.  We simply cannot afford to subsidize Planned Parenthood or any other nonprofit.  If those nonprofits are worthwhile they will survive.  If they are not, they won’t.  It’s that simple. We can’t afford to subsidize art or broadcasting. There is no shortage of either.

We should not be subsidizing farmers or big agribusinesses.  We should not be paying the advertizing budgets for McDonalds or any other company overseas.   Get rid of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,  the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and all the rest.   Close the Department of Education and consolidate the rest of the government agencies.

Of course this downsizing would mean a lot of government workers would be without jobs.  Neither Democrats nor Republicans have the stomach for this.  What would we do with all of these displaced paper pushers?  Put them to work pedaling windmill devices.  Now that is a form of subsidized alternative energy I could support.

Written by Jane Chastain

April 28th, 2011 at 12:00 am

8 Responses to 'End Oil — No — All Subsidies'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'End Oil — No — All Subsidies'.

  1. ” Tax deductions should be the same for all related industries and that includes windmills and alternative fuels. ”

    Better yet, Jane, how about we eliminate the FICTION of corporate taxes altogether? Those “tax breaks” are simply reducing the amount of money the oil (or any other) companies collect from the end customer.

    The ONLY person who REALLY pays taxes in this country is the individual earner. ANY entity (be it sole proprietorship or mega-corporation) that has customers simply passes on their tax bill as part of the cost of their product or service, AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

    In fact, absent totalitarian control of nation, there’s no way to stop it.

    So let’s stop PRETENDING, and move to the only HONEST tax system possible – a retail sales tax and (and usage fees for government services).

    Honesty really IS the best policy!

    Mark van der Hoek

    28 Apr 11 at 10:28 am

  2. Doing away with the Oil Subsidies would also eliminate the need for a Department of Energy to manage them. It can go with the Department of Education. Our dependence on foreign oil has increased since the Department of Energy was established just like the success of education has decreased since the Department of Education was established.

    Jim Dean

    28 Apr 11 at 10:51 am

  3. Jane, as always you make an excellent point in a very pointed way!!! great article!!!! Marty

    Marty Pay

    28 Apr 11 at 11:05 am

  4. Maybe we need to elect one-termers to Congress so they can do the job they were sent to do and not worry about raising money for re-elections. The only way departments and jobs will get cut is if congress doesn’t have to worry about elections.

    Ellen Shaw

    28 Apr 11 at 4:55 pm

  5. Jane, I certainly agree with you that all subsidies should be ended.There ia absolutely no constitutional authority for subsidies. Sibsidy is a high sounding, falsely legitimized word. But it really is robbery-taking money from one taxpayer who has earned it and giving it to another who has not. That’s socialism, cronyism,or favoritism. The Constitution places a strict limit on how taxpayer money can be spent.
    For years the “general welfare” clause has been distorted, twisted, and abused. The founding fathers carefully, after debate, chose that term and then purposely defined it to be money spent for the welfare of the general populace- raods, bridges, transportation systems, possibly libraries, schools.
    It was NOT for your favorite bank, corporation, or advancement of your”skull and bones” brother.
    Did the stimilus money help you or me or the “general welfare. No evidence shows it did. Do the trillions we give to foreign tyrants, and dictators help the”general welfare” of the American people?
    Education is NOT a federal responsibility. The Department of Education is a huge subsidy. 5000 employees to waste money, brainwash our children and promote socialism in our schools.The tenth amendment gives education “to the states or to the people”. About one-half the federal departments fit into this category. BUT they do fit into the agenda of BIB BIG
    powerful government and control.
    Obama has no authority to invest in alternative energy vehicles or alternative energy anything else.
    Are your friends salivating for a hybrid car? Do they wish they had a government controlled thermastat in their home? I heard Allen West say Cap and Trade was a bunch of nonsense!! He called it behavior modification.
    The Fed printing money, charging it to the taxpayer, and politicians treating it like a slush fiund is our problem.We need to pull the plug, abolish the Fed. Elect Ron Paul!

    E. Stevenson

    28 Apr 11 at 9:37 pm

  6. I’m a “paper pusher” because I’m a gov’t employee. I and 4 other paper pushers are responsible for the maintenance on 308,000 acres of Air Force test base, enough land to contain the city of L.A. We have over 3,000 buildings, 278 miles of road, 2 lakebeds, 19 runways, power stations, stores, medical center, 2 chapels, So. Cali’s FAA air traffic control facility and two radar stations; FAA’s and the USAF “Nexrad” that gives out local news their weather report as well as serving the Air Force needs. We have fuel tank farms, firing ranges, police training academy and kennels, a military field outpost suitable for “forward deployment” training, exotic fuel tank farms, hundreds of family homes, 5 schools, sewerage treatment plants, parks, 3 museums, wells, 5 fire stations (also manned by “paper pushers”) , a bombing range and a rocket test lab (full of “paper pushers” also) with R&D facilities that have given the military everything in the way of aircraft and air-delivered weapons since WWII.

    We have a NASA flight test center (more “paper pushers”) who handle the shuttle missions and just paper-pushed a hypersonic aircraft to Mach 7+. Our little organization of “paper pushers” has about 10 engineers (actual “paper pushers” as they draw up designs) and a crew of @ 150 craftsmen, also “paper pushers” apparently, to maintain all this with tools, trucks and specialized equipment when not pushing papers. Because of us “paper pushers”, our test pilot school (pushing papers in the classrooms) gives us test pilots (also gov’t employees so likely “paper pushers” as well) who have recently given the Marines the CV-22 Osprey and the Air Force the F-22 and are currently upgrading the venerable C-130 for use into the middle of the century, at which time the design on this bird will be @ 100 years old. We have Marines flight-testing out of 70 year old hangars (maintained by our “paper pushers”) We have our own branch of the Army Corps of Engineers.

    Other “paper pushers” are currently testing the F-35 (a bird I personally don’t care much for) B-2’s, B-1’s, various munitions and numerous “X” craft, with paper pushing engineers wading through millions of lines of code and data a week to do so, on computers maintained by our paper pushers in specialized buildings maintained by our paper pushers. We have had 2 paper-pushing test pilots killed in the last two years.

    Everything that moves on this base, including aircraft and cargo, moves at the hands of civilian government “paper pushers”. We’ve also got the “paper pushers” keeping alive the Airborne Laser (now operational) and the 747’s to haul the shuttles, now all but gone. We have other “black” technology in the testing stages that are not even topics of discussion in polite military circles, as well as the Army’s SkyWarrior program that is. It is all because us “paper pushers” push paper here, 24/7 as needed . Most of us have to drive over an hour on our dime just to reach the gates because there’s simply no place to live close by.

    Ma’am, I’m tired of getting kicked for keeping the military’s force operational and America free, simply because I am a dedicated government employee. I earn @ $41k a year with 7 years seniority. I work 5 times as hard as I did as a fire dispatcher here (another “paper pusher” job) and gave up a private sector driving career that was paying me more 10 years ago that this is now. I’m a disabled retired firefighter (aka: “paper pusher” because it was a gov’t. job) with no retirement from that job and a plethora of health issues for having served as such, all doubtlessly incurred while moving reams of paper. I have also been a paper pushing Federal cop, standing to my post in 100º+ weather in the desert sun.

    If the five “paper pushers” here walked out today, within a month this base would hit the “mission failure” point and this myriad of programs would come to a halt. If the 150 craftsmen down the hall walked out, it would end even sooner. If you value freedom, you and others like you need to rethink what you currently think about the evil “government employees”. Agreed, many are superfluous feather merchants like the mob in Wisconsin. Here, they tend to be in the multi-multi-tiered management slots, collecting checks while others work. It is that way in all organizations. But most of us aren’t. we’re keeping America functioning and safe while you folks sleep.

    (No tax $$$ were harmed in the making of this mail. I was here anyway tending to my business and didn’t miss a single call)

    David (professional paper pusher)
    Equipment, Facilities, & Services Assistant
    Civil Engineering/Unit Control Center Controller
    In GOD We Trust

    David

    29 Apr 11 at 1:13 pm

  7. David.

    Your job and the others to which you refer are essential. The military is a legitimate (and the most important) function of the federal government. However, for every essential job I can find you at least 5 that are not. The Department of Education, for example, has no function except to “advise” and gobble tax dollars. It does that last part very well.

    Jane Chastain

    29 Apr 11 at 7:38 pm

  8. Jane,
    Excellent accounting of a major Govt problem. I notice that Govt employees tend to be rather long winded in their explanation of duties. (probably due to too much time on their hands) –Nottrib

    Nottrib Yar

    1 May 11 at 11:51 am

Leave a Reply


Psst... My son flys remote controlled helicopters for Cloudgate Aerial Cinematography in Colorado. Check 'em out!