Thursday, January 19, 2012

Democrats propose 100 percent tax on 'unreasonable' profits

    If you wonder why I fear Democrats, a recently filed bill that would tax "unreasonable" oil company profits ought to be reason enough.
You can read the story, Dems propose 'Reasonable Profits Board' to regulate oil company profits for yourself.
    This bill would tax oil profits over 105 percent of a "reasonable" level at 100 percent (in other words, more than five percent higher than the government target). That's right, the government will establish a "reasonable" amount of profit and anyone daring to make more will pay the entire amount to the government thourgh a 100 percent tax. According to The Hill, the proposed law would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms.
    The bill doesn't establish what a "reasonable" profit is, or how a "reasonable" profit is to be calculated. Is the driller of a 2-barrels-a-day stripper well to be taxed the same amount on his oil as the driller of a thousand-barrels-a-day gusher? Is a "reasonable profit" to be the same for someone who already has a well in production at the time of a price spike as it is for someone who rushes out and drills a spec well? If so, won't that be a disincentive for drillers to work to solve oil shortages?
    I hate high oil prices as much as the next guy, but if you look at the past several years you'll see that Obama's unprovoked attack on Libya has had as much to do with the increase in oil prices as any other factor. If a price must now be paid for Obama's folly, it should be done by levying a tax on his supporters, not by taxing the patriots who are supplying our country with oil. If the government wants lower oil prices, approve Arctic Wasteland drilling, approve offshore shallow-well drilling (not dangerous ultra-deep wells), approve the Keystone pipeline, approve oil share extraction.
    Instead the Democrats can only think tax, tax, tax, and they've finally come up with a tax rate they can live with: One Hundred Percent.
    It's heresy to say it these days, but it must be noted. Most oil companies are publicly traded, and every citizen can buy in and benefit from rising oil prices. Of course, they run the risk of falling oil prices, too, not to mention the outside possibility of an ecological disaster that will destroy their investment. If the government is going to confiscate "unreasonable" gains, shouldn't it be required to repay anyone who suffers an "unreasonable" loss?
    It's also grist for another column to note that programs such as this actually tend to produce the opposite of the desired effect. In other words, price caps turn into price floors and price floors turn into price caps. Look what happened to agricultural prices when the government quit supporting prices. If the government really wants to lower oil prices, then guarantee oil producers a minimum price of $70 per barrel for the next 10 years. That will get folks drilling and effectively cap oil prices at $70.
    If you want to know how this will turn out if this bill ever becomes law, the book has already been written. It's called Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. If you haven't read it or read it lately, read it. Because we're living it today.

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