Today on CNN.com, Mr. Beck authored the following comment:
Yes, times are tough for many. Sure, oil companies make a lot of cash. But, for that money, they get us to work, get ambulances to the hospital, keep our homes warm, and employ thousands of our friends and neighbors while financing their retirement, paying their health care, and providing energy to millions. Because of capitalism, they have the incentive to do that. I've yet to see what our government does for us with their rather large chunk of each gallon of gas we buy, and I've yet to see them offer to return it or suggest a gas-tax-windfall-tax-tax.1. Sure, but your argument is still bogus.
Mr. Beck falls into one of the common rhetorical traps: use the word 'sure' and people will dismiss the negative statement that is to follow. A more correct rendering of the offending sentence would be:
Oil companies make a lot of cash.Yes they do, Mr. Beck. Mr. Beck here is making the argument that it's okay that oil companies make huge profits because they are providing the country with an essential service. I disagree. I feel that it is precisely because they provide and essential service that their profits should be regulated. They have the ability to hold the country hostage and demand more profits. Because they essentially have a monopoly, the only thing standing between them and milking Americans for every penny they can get is governmental regulation.
2. Tax and spend, baby!
Beck's second argument is that the government makes a huge amount of money with gas taxes and doesn't do anything with it. With some due respect, Mr. Beck, you are wrong. Gas taxes are reinvested by the state (including Feds) in roads, mass transit, and other transportation projects. I think that Mr. Beck should also note that while gas prices have gone up, the tax has remained relatively constant. Gas taxes are a fixed dollar amount per gallon rather than a percentage of the total cost. When gas prices go up, the government still gets the same amount of money - oil companies get the rest. Check your facts, jerk!
If Mr. Beck wants to start making real arguments instead of mere pandering, he's welcome to visit this website which provides some rather intelligent (and almost persuasive) arguments as to why the system is the way it is and why it should stay that way. There is an interesting article on the history of the gas tax. They also argue that oil companies are not mere profit machines. I disagree, but I'll save that for another day.