Saturday, May 31, 2008

Humorless Bureaucrats

Inhabitants of Oak Lawn, Ill. apparently have a hard time understanding the meaning of the large red octagons posted on street corners through the city. So in an effort to get people to actually stop, the city installed smaller signs below their larger, legal counterparts to get motorists attention while providing them a half-hearted chuckle. (Read more here)

This is another example of the lack of humor that government types exhibit. Have you ever spoken to an I.R.S. agent? Lot’s of good times.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What a Cap and Trade bureaucracy would look like!

Holy crap!! The following chart is from the U.S. Chamber of commerce and it carefully details how the Lieberman – Warner climate bill would work. Woe to us if this bill ever gets put to law. This would be just another big and expensive government mandate that promises more than it can deliver. See the whole report in PDF form here

HT: Heritage Foundation

Donate blood and get some free gas!

Yup, that’s right, folks. Step right up!

In order to give blood donors a break from gas prices, the Red Cross is entering all volunteer blood donors, who give blood between June 1, 2008 and June 30, 2008, into a drawing for one of two $750 gas cards. (Read more here)

Where the problem is

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ronald Reagan on Libertarianism

Ronald Reagan speaking in a 1975 interview with Reason magazine:

“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals—if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories, The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

“Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to ensure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.”

In-law couch

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Seven Blunders of the World

1: Wealth without work

2: Pleasure without conscience

3: Knowledge without character

4: Commerce without morality

5: Science without humanity

6: Worship without sacrifice

7: Politics without principle

---Mahatma Gandhi

A National Treasure

Pithy comments on race by Thomas Sowell:

William F. Buckley’s wife once mentioned in passing, at dinner in her home, that she had been involved for years in working with a school in Harlem. But I never heard her or Bill Buckley ever say that publicly.

Nor do conservatives who were in the civil-rights marches in the south, back when that was dangerous, make that a big deal.

For people on the Left, however, blacks are trophies or mascots, and must therefore be put on display. Nowhere is that more true than in politics.

The problem with being a mascot is that you are a symbol of someone else’s significance or virtue. The actual well-being of a mascot is not the point.

It would do us well in this country to be a little more careful and discerning with some of the policies implemented in order to help minorities. Some of those policies actually hurt and don't help. Sowell, as always, uncovers and exposes some of the inconsistencies still alive and well in our dealings with race. The man is a national treasure.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bob Barr wins Libertarian candidacy

Noooooo!! This is a terrible mistake by the Libertarian Party. Barr, in my opinion, is not a Libertarian.

Venezuela: Land of 12-cent gasoline

From Business Week

Global oil prices zoomed up to $135 a barrel this past week. But that doesn't worry Roberto Morales, a 33-year-old Venezuelan businessman. Morales, who drives a compact Volkswagen Gol, still pays only $1.32 to fill up his car with 11 gallons of high-octane gasoline, thanks to Venezuela's subsidized fuel price.

"This is crazy but I'm not complaining," says Morales. "Gasoline here is cheaper than water."

Comment: If countries like Venezuela, China, Saudi Arabia and many others ended their subsidizing of gasoline for their respective populations, I’m sure that it would curb global demand with current crude oil prices. Of course, that would also mean big problems for the ruling regimes in these countries. Let’s just say that subsidies for gasoline in these countries aren't going to be dropped anytime soon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

High gas prices drive farmer to switch to mules

From Brietbart

High gas prices have driven a Warren County farmer and his sons to hitch a tractor rake to a pair of mules to gather hay from their fields.

Watch the video of this report Here

The future of high gas prices is here, folks! I’m gonna name my little mule Charlene.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Inflationary nightmare

Zimbabwe inflation estimated at more than 1,000,000%

Independent finance houses have said in an assessment that annual inflation rose this month to 1,063,572% based on prices of a basket of basic foodstuffs. As stores opened for business on Wednesday, a small pack of locally produced coffee beans cost just short of Z$1-billion. A decade ago, that sum would have bought 60 new cars.

This is an example of the economic havoc that runaway inflation can inflict.

62% of voters prefer fewer government services with lower taxes

From Rasmussen

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 62% of voters would prefer fewer government services with lower taxes. Nearly a third (29%) disagrees and would rather have a bigger government with higher taxes. Ten percent (10%) are not sure.

HT: Andrew Roth

Exxon facing shareholder revolt over climate change

From the Guardian

A shareholder revolt at ExxonMobil led by the billionaire Rockefeller family has won the support of four significant British institutional investors who will call on Monday for a shakeup in the governance of the world's biggest oil company.

Exxon is facing a rebellion from its investors over its hardline approach to global warming. The firm has refused to follow rival oil companies in committing large-scale capital investment to environmentally friendly technology such as wind and solar power.

Exxon maintains that present green technologies are not financially viable. But critics on Wall Street and in the City fear that the company's reluctance to explore alternative energy will prove to be bad business judgment in the long run as rivals such as BP seek to capture public affection by re-branding themselves as environmentally sensitive enterprises.

Comment: Exxon is going to continually find itself in this sort of pickle with powerful shareholders. It is now very fashionable for corporations to “green” their image in order to sell themselves as being environmentally responsible. Yet, one must ask, is it to Exxon’s benefit to divert an ever larger share of resources to fund environmentally friendly technology, just for branding purposes, as opposed to improving its ability to drill, deliver, and produce petroleum? I know what my greenie friends would say—absolutely. However, since the search for the magical alternative fuel that will replace oil has been going on for 30 years, I seriously doubt that Exxon increasing funds to that end will have an impact except, of course, for making itself look environmentally sensitive. It’s expensive being “green.”

Gas station employee fired for fighting off robber

From Fox:

Mark Beverly, an overnight shift supervisor at a SuperAmerica in Roseville, Minn., was fired in March after he jumped on a masked robber who he believed was attacking a fellow employee.

SuperAmerica said he violated company policy when he came to his colleague's aid in the early morning of March 26. So instead of accolades, Beverly got the boot.

Adding insult to injury, Beverly — who is still looking for another job — has been denied unemployment benefits. He will appeal that decision on June 5.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Save some gas and scale large rocks!

If you just must have your vehicle be four wheel drive but gas prices have been nipping the wallet, here’s an idea. This one needs a gun rack though.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

High school grad can’t read diploma

From Times Union:

ALBANY -- David Streck graduated from East Greenbush's Columbia High School back in 2002 but he's never read beyond a third-grade level.

Show a business card or other written document to him and he'll give it a brief stare and tell you the words are meaningless.

t's not for lack of brain power. Streck, 25, said he passed high school math with little problem and he enjoys using computer spreadsheets and building Web sites.

When he drives, he navigates by memory rather than street signs.

But he knows that his future prospects are dim if he can't read instructions on a job application, respond to e-mails or even go through the newspaper want ads.

Comment: This poor fellow was moved along from grade to grade with little help. While the reason that he can’t read is due to dyslexia, the fact that he was able to graduate high school with barely a third grade reading level is baffling and disturbing. Another example of how our tax dollars are wasted away.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Electric cigarette

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Electric cigarette

From the Daily Mail:

Inventors have created an electric cigarette which gives a nicotine hit while still managing to avoid the smoking ban.

The small white stick, which looks just like a proper cigarette, contains a chamber that vapourises pure liquid nicotine into a puff of steam.

For good or for ill you have to admit that the free-market allows this sort of creativity.

Cities with the worst pain at the pump

From LA Times

Gas prices in Texas are among the cheapest nationwide, but that doesn't mean commuting by car there is light on the wallet.

Indeed, though the cost of gasoline does matter, other factors, including distance, congestion, carpooling rates and use of public transit also play important roles.

Republicans in trouble?

With votes like the massive Farm Bill and others, it may be time for an overhaul

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The House passes the farm bill

Cha-Ching!! Congratulations my fellow Americans! We get to subsidize big agricultural companies and millionaires for another five years! Woo-hooo!

They passed it with a veto proof majority, 318-106

HT: Andrew Roth

Charter Schools popular in Harlem

From The Economist:

THOSE who had won whooped with joy and punched their fists. The disappointed shed tears. Some 5,000 people attended April 17th's Harlem Success Academy Charter School lottery, the largest ever held for charter schools in the history of New York state. About 3,600 applied for 600 available places, and 900 applied for the 11 open slots in the second grade.

The desperation of these parents is hardly surprising. In one Harlem school district, not one public elementary school has more than 55% of its pupils reading at the level expected for their grade. And 75% of 14-year-olds are unable to read at their grade level. So Harlem parents are beginning to leave the public school system in crowds.

Despite what United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten tells us about the “failure” of school vouchers and charter schools on Charlie Rose, desperate parents living in one of the toughest parts of New York City are aching for something better for their children than the usual rhetorical pabulum served up by the Teachers Union. In the interview with Charlie Rose, Ms. Weingarten tells Rose that the voucher program in Milwaukee is a failure and that therefore, she insinuates, the system will not work in New York City (Harlem). What she fails to understand or willfully ignores, is that a similar lottery system exists in Milwaukee as in Harlem. For the first eight years of its existence, Milwaukee's program was capped at about 1,500 students, for the next eight it was capped at 15,000. It is currently capped at 22,500 students. By getting local and state governments to kowtow to their powerful lobby, the teachers union effectively rigged the voucher market for difficulties and failure by putting an artificial cap on student enrollment. After all, if we capped the number of cell phones that Apple could sell, there would not only be a shortage of these items, but any excess demand by consumers would have to find other providers for a similar item. Unlike the cell phone market where there are many providers, the education market is dominated by one large monopoly. Students that don’t win the lottery must submit themselves to the local public schools. Additionally, if a charter school wants to expand enrollment, it can not do so quickly and easily due to its restrictive mandate. This is hardly a free-market and most certainly not a fair test of school vouchers or charter schools. The fact that a lottery is used to reward participation in a charter school is proof enough that Ms. Weingarten is being disingenuous and that charter schools are a lot more popular than the teachers union would ever care to admit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

From Junkie to Software Success

From Businessweek

Bob Williamson fled a broken home in Mississippi at age 17 to hitchhike around the country. He landed in Atlanta in 1970 at 24, homeless, broke, and addicted to heroin and methamphetamine. When he got a job there cleaning bricks for $15 a week, no one would have guessed that he would start a $26 million software company someday.

Successful businesses often spring from a combination of hard work and dumb luck, and Williamson credits both. Not long after arriving in Atlanta, he was injured in a car wreck and spent months recovering in the hospital. While there, he read the Bible, converted to Christianity, and decided to straighten up his life. It wasn't easy: He had a criminal record, no college degree, and few job prospects.

Congress less popular than President Bush

The latest data from Gallup:

Approval of Congress has dipped below 20% for only the fourth time in Gallup history, tying the record low of 18%. President Bush’s 29% approval rating is only one point above his personal worst approval scores, recorded in April and earlier in May.

American taxpayers about to get shafted again!!!

From The Club For Growth:

A vote in favor of the Farm Bill will be a permanent stain on the lawmaker’s record and on the 110th Congress. The bill’s terrible features include:

  • Subsidies to millionaire farmers without a hard, meaningful cap on a farmer’s qualifying income
  • The elimination of key limits on annual commodity payments
  • Spending gimmicks that disguise over $10 billion in spending increases
  • An increase in subsidy rates despite sky-high crop prices and record farm incomes
  • Direct payments for crops that are not based on a farmer’s income, crop prices, or any standard of need
  • The creation of a new, permanent disaster aid program, creating incentives to grow the wrong crops on bad land in bad weather
  • Tax breaks for special interests like race horse owners and timber companies

My Comments: This bill is a high example of the waste and graft that exists in our government. Have you seen any local coverage on your news channels? probably not. BTW, most food and grain producers are doing VERY well right now with commodity prices at all time highs. And the usual excuse that I hear for the high food prices being that "it's because of oil prices," isn't a good enough reason for taxpayers to subsidize these big businesses.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

“We want cheap gas!”

According to a Gallup poll released today, most Americans are supportive of the “Tax Holiday.” Lifting the federal tax for the summer does nothing for our looming long term energy issues. It may not even alleviate the sting of current gas prices in the short term.

I completely agree with Cato’s Jerry Taylor that the federal gas tax should be abolished completely. It should be replaced with a carbon tax. Watch the video and let me know what you think.

Arrrggh ye scurvy dogs!!!!

I couldn’t resist posting this article from the Boston Globe. It’s about an upcoming book by economist Peter Leeson. My first thought after reading this was on F.A. Hayek’s elaboration of ”spontaneous orders”. In the case of pirates, an equitable democratic process arose from what seems to us as a strong environment for anarchy. Here’s a snippet:

The pirates who roamed the seas in the late 17th and early 18th centuries developed a floating civilization that, in terms of political philosophy, was well ahead of its time. The notion of checks and balances, in which each branch of government limits the other's power, emerged in England in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. But by the 1670s, and likely before, pirates were developing democratic charters, establishing balance of power on their ships, and developing a nascent form of worker's compensation: A lost limb entitled one to payment from the booty, more or less depending on whether it was a right arm, a left arm, or a leg.

To Leeson, pirate democracy was an institution born of necessity. In one successful cruise, a pirate could take home what a merchant sailor earned in 50 years. Yet a business enterprise made up of the violent and lawless was clearly problematic: piracy required common action and mutual trust. And pirates couldn't rely on a government to set the rules. Some think that "without government, where would we be?" Leeson says. "But what pirates really show is, no, it's just common sense. You have an incentive to try to create rules to make society get along. And that's just as important to pirates as it is to anybody else."

Much thanks to Café Hayek for turning me on to this topic.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The cost of future Energy gets more expensive

From the WSJ:

A new generation of nuclear power plants is on the drawing boards in the U.S., but the projected cost is causing some sticker shock: $5 billion to $12 billion a plant, double to quadruple earlier estimates.

Nuclear power is regaining favor as an alternative to other sources of power generation, such as coal-fired plants, which have fallen out of favor because they are major polluters. But the high cost could lead to sharply higher electricity bills for consumers and inevitably re-ignite debate about the nuclear industry's suitability to meet growing energy needs.

Nuclear plants haven't been built in meaningful numbers in the U.S. since the 1980s. Part of the cost escalation is bad luck. Plants are being proposed in a period of skyrocketing costs for commodities such as cement, steel and copper; amid a growing shortage of skilled labor; and against the backdrop of a shrunken supplier network for the industry.

Comment: Since we have neglected, over the last 25-30 years, to build enough plants to meet our current and future energy needs, it looks like we may have to swallow the bitter pill of paying through the nose. Blame environmental hysteria and fear mongering

Possible solution: A carbon tax on fossil fuel emitter plants will continue to make nuclear power construction economically viable.

Check out the great post on a similar subject at
The BoBo Files

Hearing on energy speculation

A House panel to hold energy speculation hearing. Well, thank heavens! I was wondering how long it was going to take our idiot politicians to stand on a soap box and spew mindless partisan rhetoric about gas prices. I can’t wait to watch the hearings on c-span. The last time this topic was “investigated,” it turned out to be a laugh riot for viewers: Senator Barbara “chow chow” Boxer illustrated how talented she is at feigning indignant anger. Priceless.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

We are soooo screwed

Get ready to hold your nose and vote in November.

The pork of the Farm bill looms large


There will be unmelted snowballs in Hades before this Congress agrees to cut out the pork in the farm bill headed for a vote within the next week, so President Bush should get his veto pen ready. At an estimated cost of at least $285 billion over 10 years, this will be the most expensive and regressive farm bill ever.

Windfall profit taxes for everybody!!!!

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Here is a list of industries and companies that have made quite of bit of profit for themselves. Look at where oil companies sit on the list. Wouldn't it be fair and just to go after all those companies and industries that made more or just as much profit as the "evil" oil companies?

Friday, May 9, 2008

How I spent my stimulus package!

Well, I haven’t received mine yet. But it looks like someone started up a website for people who have received their check and have already done some spending. My favorite one is the guy who went out and bought a sack of marijuana. Ah, our tax dollars at work.

HT: Andrew Roth

Windfall Profits Tax = Higher gas prices

From SFGate: Senate Democrats on Wednesday called for a windfall-profits tax on oil companies...The proposal also would impose federal penalties on energy price gouging and calls for stopping oil deliveries into the government's emergency reserve.

The proposed 25 percent profits tax would apply only to windfall oil company earnings above what would be considered reasonable and only if those profits are not reinvested in refinery capacity expansion or renewable energy sources, according to a summary of the proposal.

Comment: In another case of politicians telling the public what it wants to hear, we now have some liberal democrats pushing for an economic experiment that has been tried in the past and failed—the windfalls profit tax. Of course, these skillful sophists are betting that most of the American public has nary any memory of the 1980’s, the last time these taxes on oil companies were tried and were shown wanting (1980-1987): Windfall profit taxes brought less domestic production and MORE dependence on foreign supplies of oil. This is not what we need right now or in the future--higher gas prices.

Instead of trying to correct popular economic misconceptions, these guys indulge them for political gain at our expense.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Gas pinch

So you think gas prices are high here, eh?

Click on image to enlarge.

Anti-American protests and Food riots

From CSM: Amnesty International Report released Tuesday alleged that Islamist militants, as well as US-backed Ethiopian and Somali government troops, are committing widespread atrocities against civilians in the capital, Mogadishu. And a recent US strike against what it says was an Al Qaeda leader in Somalia has sparked further protests.

Comment: Food riots and anti-American protests are raging through Somalia. Inexplicably, while the average American is consumed by American Idol and gasoline prices, there are reports that U.S. backed government forces are committing atrocities in Mogadishu. Additionally, a recent U.S. bombing attack on suspected Al Qaeda militants has caused the sort of collateral damage that we can ill afford: This is yet another American foreign policy disaster in the making. Do not doubt that our ethanol subsidy to big agriculture and rising oil prices have a hand in all of this. I haven’t seen a whiff of reporting on any of this on my local news channel and I suspect there will be none until something terrible happens to our soldiers or American civilians operating in the region.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The reality of ethanol

HT: Mark J. Perry

Hollywood Hypocrites

Hollywood celebrities preach that they have gone green but the truth doesn’t bear that out. While they get to jet around the world and lead a life of convenience and luxury, they try to sell their “greenness” to the great unwashed masses that can nary afford the high cost of being environmentally conscious. Let's face it, the Hollywood elites are a bunch of hypocrites. Does anybody believe their bullshit?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

VH news roll for Tuesday

Those that are receiving food stamps are hit hard when inflation spikes.

The debate regarding windfall profit taxes on oil companies rages on.

Green thoughts

I paid $32.30 today to fill up at the local Shell station. O.K., my car is a small four cylinder Toyota so I’ll admit that gas prices haven’t exactly financially clobbered me and my family. Still, I have noticed that it takes about ten to twenty bucks more to fill ‘er up. My lord, I can’t imagine having to fill up one of those giant SUV’s. Ouch! Current high gas prices are due to a weak dollar, the herd mentality of commodity speculation, and growing demand in China and India that has not abated.

Unfortunately, Americans are going to have to get used to these high prices. Our lame politicians serve up weak solutions (Sorry, but a “tax holiday” or windfall profit taxes on oil companies will not make gas prices drop and they will certainly not make any difference in the long run) that only pander to susceptible voters. Coupled with our current cultural obsession with everything and anything having to do with the environment, they have pretty much guaranteed pricier gas for decades to come.

We Americans are a strange lot; we want cheap gas for our cars but we shun most offshore oil drilling and refuse to tap resources in desolate landscapes like ANWR (even though less than fifty miles away, there is the major oil facility of Prudhoe Bay): A fitful contradiction that probably drives politicians looking for votes to make stupid suggestions on lowering gas prices and it certainly leads to bad national energy policy.

There’s a part of me that actually welcomes high prices; Gasoline consumers are already starting to cut back on their fuel use. Auto consumers are carefully weighing fuel economy in cars they intend to purchase. Auto manufactures are getting the hint that they need to design and build cars that are more fuel efficient: this is the market magic at work here, folks. Despite all the bellyaching, it is working just as it should.

But what is most worrisome, is that Americans do not seem to understand that for the foreseeable future, energy prices in general are going to be higher than they have in the past and for a far longer period of time. For the last thirty years or so, our country has been committing energy suicide: We have failed to build new petroleum refineries to meet growing demand, new oil and gas pipelines have not been built, and nuclear power has been off the table as a viable source of clean energy for decades. Americans will finally see how expensive it really is to be wholly “green.” As it has been envisioned by those that believe that to severely restrict oil, gas, and nuclear energy production (with enough litigation to bog any sensible progress) will therefore get us to the promised land of magic alternative fuels or the super green infrastructure that will be cheap, clean, produce no carbon emissions, and will cause Greens everywhere to smugly exclaim “I told you so, don’t you feel ashamed now, you idiot?”

Except that the Green economy, as envisioned by individuals like Al Gore, is going to be ferociously expensive. The technology to reduce emissions to the levels that environmentalist’s desire simply is not there or is not politically viable (i.e. nuclear power). So now we are stuck with not enough conventional energy to meet our growing demand and not nearly enough alternative energy too. When the average American starts to fork over a sizable amount of their income to comply with rising energy needs, a backlash may occur and the most likely candidates for a drubbing will be those very same politicians that pushed unrealistic energy goals.

Now don’t misunderstand me on the climate change issue or on pollution in general. I don’t believe that industries, corporations or even individuals should be allowed to pollute without penalty. If I have a business that pumps unhealthful fumes into the air that a city is downwind from and that they may end up breathing, I should at least have to pay a penalty or a recompense for my use/polluting of everyone’s air. If you have read this blog for some time you know that I have always advocated a national carbon tax on polluters and that the carbon tax is far more efficient than a carbon trading scheme. But I digress. What I object to is that most environmental policy has been forged in a climate of hysteria. This has led to some of the policies alluded to above that most likely will fritter away billions in precious investment capital that could have been used to develop efficient technologies of the future. Instead, we are going to have to settle for what we have now as far as an energy infrastructure and hope that energy costs don’t spike as fast or as painfully as filling your car.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The greed of panhandling

With so many needy people on the streets, it is sad to see some bad apples taking advantage of the good will of others. This video is a good example of why giving to charities and homeless shelters are the best way to help the homeless.

HT: Andrew Roth

VH news roll for Monday

The U.S. is drawing plans to strike on an Iranian insurgency camp. This of course will only complicate things in the gulf. Can you imagine six dollar gas and more military campaigns? This is like continuing to stir a hornets nest.

President Bush’s recent remarks regarding the high cost of food being due to an increased demand in India has not gone well in that country: They blame bio-fuels in the U.S.

No Child Left Behind continues to wreak havoc on our educational system.

Friday, May 2, 2008

VH news roll for Friday

Click on over to The BoBo Files for a great commentary on this one:

Republican group asks for a permit to counter-protest against Code Pink in Berkeley, CA. We’ll see how the city council votes on this one. They continuously tell anyone that would listen that they are all about fairness and free-speech. We'll see.

Happy Friday!

A couple of cartoons for you. Click on them to enlarge.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Exxon Income Taxes Set All-Time Record of $9.3B

From Mark J. Perry's blog: Carpe Diem

CNNMoney-- Record oil prices netted Exxon Mobil $10.89 billion in the first quarter, sharply higher than a year earlier but short of Wall Street expectations and below what was needed to set a new all-time profit record.

The sheer size of the Exxon profit reported Thursday will still likely attract attention from consumer groups and lawmakers, who have been arguing for higher taxes on oil companies amid soaring gas and oil prices.

The company posted first-quarter net income of $10.89 billion, or $2.03 a share. That's up 17% from the $9.28 billion, or $1.62 a share it earned a year earlier, but it missed analysts' consensus forecast of $2.14.

Revenue hit $116.85 billion, up 34% from a year earlier when sales hit $87.2 billion. The profit was still enough to be the second highest U.S. corporate profit on record, falling just short of the record $11.66 billion Exxon Mobil earned in the fourth quarter. The profit came to $1,385 a second, enough to buy nearly 382 gallons of gas at current prices.

Prediction: In every single media story today about Exxon, the one key income statement variable that will receive ABSOLUTELY NO ATTENTION is the amount of income taxes paid by Exxon, which was $9.32 billion in the first quarter, according to Exxon.

Following CNN's analysis, Exxon paid $1185 in income taxes every second this quarter, enough to buy 327 gallons of gas.

Bottom Line: Although Exxon's profits in the first quarter didn't set a record, its quarterly income taxes paid of $9.32 billion did set an all-time record. I predict this will go largely unreported.


My Comments: Yes, I know, the oil companies are all evil and they are "gouging" us at the pump. However, that general and popular sentiment is easy populist scapegoating. All of the investigations on price-fixing by the major oil companies over that last several years have turned up nothing. The price at the pump has a lot more to do with our government's lousy energy policy. Notice who on the presidential campaign trail is using this scapegoating tactic to get elected.

Subsidies to Big Agriculture

From The Wall Street Journal:

At a time when parts of the world are facing food riots, Big Agriculture is dealing with a different sort of challenge: huge profits.

The robust profits are emerging against the backdrop of a food crisis some experts say is the worst in three decades.

Comment: As food prices spike and grain companies’ profits soar ever higher, I continue to question the justification for farm subsidies. Most subsidies end up in the hands of large corporations like Archer Daniels Midland. And it must be pointed out that companies like ADM are making out like bandits: Profits for ADM climbed a whopping 42% in its fiscal third quarter. While I am pleased that ADM and other grain producers are having great success in their industries, there should be no doubt that corporations like ADM do not need any extra help from the American taxpayer. Additionally, as much of the world grapples with mounting food prices that have become severe in some developing countries and that has led to rioting, poor farmers from developing countries can not compete on the world market with large corporations that receive subsidies in rich countries. Our government constantly harps about how developing countries should liberalize their trade, yet our subsidy policy makes their attempt at a decent livelihood far more difficult and discouraging. This is all an example of how crony-capitalism makes matters worse for everybody.

VH news roll for Thursday

School vouchers in D.C. are going to get a long look on Capital Hill this week. I have a funny feeling that this program will not get the funding it needs to continue.

Support for Republican Party falls; no surprise except that somehow the presidential race remains tight.

Exxon Mobil profit up 17%; How long before we see a politician ranting about “obscene” profits?