John McCain, who apparently is qualified to be President because he was a prisoner of war, recently said in response to a question about whether he would enact a windfall profits tax on oil companies “Um, I don’t like obscene profits being made anywhere…”
Let’s assume that oil execs are horrible, horrible people. Let’s assume they are actively trying to destroy our country by driving up oil prices to line their own pockets. Let’s assume they are greedy monsters who will stop at nothing to increase their power and control. Let’s assume they could care less for the people they supposedly serve and all they’re interested in is their own benefit. Yes, they’d still fall far short of what Congress has consistently done to us over the years, but even if this were what oil execs were like, I’d have no problem with their “obscene profits” nor their pay packages. In fact, I’d like it to be easier for oil execs to make even more money.
One problem is that gas prices are high enough as they are without the government stepping in to make them go higher. What do you think a tax on oil profits is going to do? Do you really think oil execs are going to give up their profits that easily? Taxes are just one more cost for oil companies and they’ll do what any business will do when their costs go up–raise prices. Far from solving any problems, the government will actually compound the gas price problem.
But for me the bigger problem is that whenever government gets their eye on money and wants to take it, it never stops where they say it’s going to stop. If they say they’re only going to tax oil companies, they’ll be taxing every company within a few years on the same terms, and that could be a disaster for our economy. When you increase the cost of running a business, you end up with less business, and that means less jobs. Contrary to belief, most entrepreneurs don’t get rich and most entrepreneurs don’t become entrepreneurs because they want to be rich, most of them become entrepreneurs in order to not work for someone else, but the desire to succeed on one’s own terms is also a strong motivation. If you told me that the result of me working 80 hour weeks, going without a paycheck, maxing out my personal credit cards, and making 100 other major sacrifices was that the government would swoop in and take half my profits once I actually started making money, how do you think that would affect my motivation to start a business in the first place? If the government steps in and interferes with one industry, how do I know they won’t do the same to me in a few years and why should I work hard and provide jobs for other people if there is no reward for the risks I’m taking?
Why politicians don’t get simple economics is beyond me. This stuff isn’t that hard. If you lower taxes on businesses (i.e. what the Democrats constantly refer to as “the rich”) you’ll get more businesses, and that means more jobs, lower unemployment, and higher wages–things politicians claim to want to create to help out the little people. And yet they propose and do things that result in exactly the opposite. Then when things go wrong they blame anyone but themselves, and somehow we buy into it and keep voting for these people, most of whom appear to know next to nothing about the economy, and yet who wield tremendous power over it.
Since both candidates appear eager to implement plans to wreck the economy, I’d prefer that Obama do it. At least that way the blame will go to the party that is the home of these ideas. The last thing I want is for people to mistake what McCain says as anything approaching what conservatives believe in.