Monday, October 17, 2011

American Driver? Pay the Nice Man $600

Really "Good" Government Allows Oil Speculators
to Cost Average Drivers $600/Year
Oh Dear.  Isn't "Fascism" A Little Harsh?

Not really.

Oil Speculators Screw You First, Then Big Oil (image source)

Rather than get too drippy on the matter, let's have just a short reminder about what fascism is and how to spot it.  For regular visitors to MeanMesa, we have covered this before.  However, that's not a good reason to revisit the issue briefly.

The "old" kind of fascism was the result of mixing "national interests" with "corporate interests."  The material result was seen in examples such as the industrial complex which grew up to support the Reich during WWII.  In fact, the political structure was called "national socialism," or Nazism.

Translating this into modern American terms means that "national interests" have been configured to be replaced by "corporate interests" in return for corporate support for -- and interference in -- national political processes.  Legitimate "national interests" have something to do with the interests of the people living in the country, and legitimate government means that protecting these general interests of the people remains a high priority in government policies.

Descending as quickly as possible from these academic hypotheticals, we need to introduce a particularly outrageous example of just what's being described here.

It has everything to do with "regulation."

The right wing mouth breathers actually find themselves cooperating in this MeanMesa explanation.  They repeatedly argue that "deregulation" is an essential element of "job creation."  Of course, their thinly disguised whining actually amounts to an implied threat to government policy makers.  "If you don't eliminate some expensive regulations, we won't hire any employees."

This wouldn't amount to much except that the regulations these "capitalists" want to eliminate have been put in place under the priority of establishing policies which serve the people represented by the government.  The "fascism angle" comes in when we consider the peculiar loyalties served by such priorities.  In this case, "deregulation" means acting with a policy contrary to the benefit of the people and in favor of a policy which benefits, well, the fascists.

Part of government is usurped, that is, to be converted, usually by merit of lower expenses, into corporate profits.  The interests of the corporation have trumped the interests of the people.

Enough theory.

Corporate Fascism and Buying Gasoline

Here we can begin with the idea that one feature of the social economy that our government is responsible for protecting -- for our own interests -- can be classed as "freedom of trade."  The opposite of "freedom of trade" is "restraint of trade."

Restraint of trade means that, one way or another, the "free market, capitalistic" nature of something has been subverted in favor of profit.  In this case, the "profit" is not resulting from normal "free market" activities, but, of course, instead, from the "restraint of trade."

Now, under a legitimate "free market" system, gasoline prices would amount to the cost of gasoline plus the profit required by the capitalists running the various businesses providing the gasoline for sale. Under ideal conditions, the "gasoline providing" businesses could be expected to be constantly seeking ways to lower the cost of the gasoline.

You know, "free market" stuff.

Likewise, the "gasoline providing businesses" would also be forced to compete with each other, maintaining prices at competitive levels so their products would be, well, competitive.  The prospect of adding a few dollars to the price of a gallon of gasoline, thus greatly increasing the profit from its sale, would be attractive, but the competition would instantly ruin the plan by offering a lower price at the station just across the street.

Further, approaching the "free trade" idea as a responsibility of government, if a wealthy gangster were to suddenly appear on the market, purchase all of the gasoline before it could be transported to the gas stations and raise the price a few dollars per gallon, forcing all the gas stations to charge accordingly for their supply, the government would, theoretically, step in to express some legal discomfort with the resulting "restraint of trade."

This scheme would require enough cash on the part of the gangster to purchase all the gasoline as it emerged from the refineries, corner the market and accomplish all this to control the price.  This necessary investment cash would, in a sense, simply be a part of doing business this way.  However, if the gangster added a little more to this cost by including whatever it would take to "keep the government out" of the business, his scheme could just roll ahead, "roses, simply roses."

Of course, this would be a "monopoly," and we have very distinct laws against such "monopolies."

If we had no such laws against monopolies, we would have corporate fascism where the interests of the corporations would be able to trump the interests of the consumers.

Oil Speculators as Fascists

With the "monopoly idea" off the table, we should probably expect gasoline prices to be fairly rational, that is, routine products of the "free market, free trade" system.   After all, monstrosities such as the pre-Sherman Antitrust Act Standard Oil were finally crushed in its earlier, oligarchic, corporate form decades ago for these very reasons.

However, an important difference marks the comparative tale of then and now.  Giant monopolies such as Standard actually owned the entire material components of everything required to utterly control a market, supply, prices -- everything.  In the "now version" we find all this control skulking in the nearly invisible world of commodities traders, with respect to this posting, oil traders.

What it has in common with its historical precursors is its amazingly parasitical nature.  We are discussing oil speculators, the modern form of the inflationary parasites.  The reason we are discussing oil speculators has everything to do with a quiet CNN news story which surfaced today, October 14, 2011.  Read the entire article here.

The headline is enough.  CNN reports:

"Oil speculation seen adding $600 to your gas bill."

The reason such an outrage is possible, much less legal, is precisely because Congressmen and Senators made it both.  If there are 100 million drivers paying this $600 "speculation increment" in their annual gasoline bills, the "total take" will be:

$600 X 100,000,000 = $60,000,000,000 ($60 Bn) per year.

It gets worse.  The estimated population of oil speculators, even counting each individual in companies which do such a shady business, is between 200 and 500.  The $60 Bn "take" is divided between, being generous, 500 well positioned individuals.  The rough income being generated for these 500 individuals amounts to a little more than $100 Mn per year, for each one.

How in the world have these little banksters ever been able to convince the Congress to provide the body of law which made this legal?  And, by the way, not only legal but also enjoying a top marginal tax rate of 15%?

Don't kid yourselves.  They bought and paid for every letter in every law they needed and received.  They still own the laws and lawmakers they need, today.  They continue to "take home" this same amount of income, today.  They still pay 15% income tax on all the dollars they can't off shore or hide some other way, today.

This is the kind of money that Republicans know is big enough to control the entire government, that is, at least big enough to subvert it nicely.

A "subverted" government which holds a higher loyalty to corporate traders than it does to the people it represents is a fascist government.  When such a government is "paid" to sustain such a practice, it is a criminal government.

So, if you are still trying to "get over" this bit of news, spend a little time reviewing Texas Governor Perry's "job plan," announced today.

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