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Monday, August 08, 2005

A buried story on out of control oil profits. Hmmm, wonder why our corporate media isn't interested in this juicy nugget?

In the second quarter of this year, Exxon Mobil had a 32 percent boost in profits. Royal Dutch Shell's profits were up 34 percent, British Petroleum was up 29 percent and ConocoPhillips saw its profits increase a staggering 51 percent.

These out of control profits show how much the oil companies can afford to lose. I explained last time why oil companies, like any corporation, don't pay the costs to society that result from their business. Many conservatives would tell me that they shouldn't have to by claiming that "If corporations are forced to pay the costs to society that result from corporate actions, then many corporations will go under. Your liberal plan is going to destroy America."

First, these record profits show that the oil companies can easily afford to give up some profits in exchange for some steps towards sustainability. Those figures above don't even consider the sheer amount of oil profits, just the increase in oil profits over the last quarter alone. Oil corporates are awash in cash due to unending demand, low costs and a Corporate Republican party that considers oil companies blameless for the ills that the burning of petroleum causes.

Second, perhaps the conservatives are right when they say that some corporations will be destroyed if they have to pay the costs to society that result from their corporate actions. We need to understand and accept that this isn't a bad thing. Certain activities just don't pass a cost-benefit analysis when we factor in the costs to society. Those plastic bags for vegetables at the supermarket are a great example. We all use them so much that most people could not fathom life without them. But the costs to society of increased landfills and wasted petroleum are far higher than any benefit from the use of these wasteful bags. After 30 minutes of use, the bag survives another 100,000 years.

Part of transforming America into a sustainable economy is accepting that certain parts of our lifestyle must be left behind. I'm not saying that Americans should live in huts and suffer endlessly; just that we need to be aware of the social costs of certain acts and be prepared to do away with wasteful activities.

Out of control oil profits show that oil corporations can easily afford to reimburse Americans for some of the costs that come from their destructive enterprise. In the long run, however, it's clear that oil consumption and production becomes an increasingly unsustainable one with each passing day. The time will come in the very near future where we will need to accept our addiction to oil and quit it cold turkey. There is no amount of money that can reimburse America for the destruction of the environment. The polar ice caps cannot be bought with cash.

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