Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Federal Give-Aways & Federal Take-Aways...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

Barack Obama has now decided that he needs to promise another round of stimulus checks that are discussed as being in the range of $1,000 for every family and $500 for individuals.  Now, of course, even in the federal government, money does not grow on trees.  This 'reward' for electing Obama and the Democrats has to be paid for.  After all, they apparently hold to the approach that all things done within the government must be "revenue neutral".  So, if money is going to be given to one person, it must be taken from somewhere else.

The 'somewhere else' in this instance is destined today to be a take-away from "big oil" through what is artfully called a "windfall profit tax".  A Wall Street Journal editorial today takes an intriguing look at the concept of such taxes including some individuals that seem to have benefited from windfall profits.. 

There is a certain arbitrariness to all this posturing. 

First, from whom or what will such money be taken?  Well, why not target those nasty "big oil" companies.  They are, after all, socking money away at record levels.

Second, what is it that constitutes a "windfall" profit?  Well, this one seems to differ with the magnitude of "big oil's" profit, so it really becomes whatever the Congress thinks it is...and it can be different when applied to different entities and/or at different times.

Third, doesn't this become very much a form of nationalizing parts of companies?  How does this differ from Hugo Chavez' approach in Venezuela other than in degrees?  Chavez decrees that the company will be 'nationalized' and seizes whatever assets exist for which he doesn't feel obligated to pay stockholders.  So if, for example, "big oil" earns a combined $10 billion, and if government decrees that it should've only earned $5 billion, the windfall profit tax levied is essentially consuming half the industry.  

Fourth, from whom is this "windfall profit" being taken?  Why, from the stockholders of the companies...and those stockholders are individuals, mutual funds, pension funds and so on.  Too many people are seemingly unable to work through this.  This money comes from them, goes to Congress and is re-distributed to other 'thems' after, of course, a few dollars are siphoned off to go to this or that pet project that gets tacked on to the legislation as it wends it way through the voting process.

Fifth, the oil companies simply pass the lost profit on to their customers in the form of increased prices to cover this unanticipated 'cost' that was levied against them.  You and me pay this at the pumps, and when we turn on our lights and heat our homes and buy food and other necessities since virtually everything is dependent upon oil at one or another stage in the process.

Could it be that there really is nothing to which we can refer as a federal give-away?  The federal government doesn't earn dollar one; it only takes from you and me.  If it doesn't have any money of its own, then it really is only re-distributing our money like an inefficient Robin Hood.  Robin didn't have the need for large sums from his takings such as Congress seems to have.

This sure sounds very much like socialism doesn't it?

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