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Senate Hearings on Big Oil Boston: The nation's biggest oil… 
9th-Nov-2005 10:51 pm
Senate Hearings on Big Oil
Boston: The nation's biggest oil companies defended their combined quarterly profits of more than $30 billion on Wednesday at a Senate hearing where lawmakers demanded to know when prices would ease.
Ted Stevens refused to have these guys swear in. As David says, "The Republicans will swear in baseball players but not oil execs." (Hat tip The Boston Progressive) - c/o C&L

Think about that for a second, and try not to bleed profusely. The Senate meetings on steroid usage within the MLB - not really a matter of national security, not even really affecting anything important. But they ALL got fucking sworn in. So after record windfall profits totalling billions in a single quarter, what happens when these unleaded premium assholes hit a Congressional hearing? Did Exxon Mobil CEO Lee Raymond get sworn in before his testimony? NO. Did Chevron CEO David O'Reilly get sworn in before his testimony? NO. Did they defend their industry and the profits? YES. Complete denial of price gouging despite a $0.24/gallon increase in a single day? YES. But still, it was all a big dog and pony show and more empty posturing, nothing more.
Even before the remarks got started, Democrats and Republicans debated whether the executives should have to swear to tell the truth before the panel.

Alaska Republican Stevens, head of the Senate Commerce Committee, rejected calls by some Democrats to have the executives sworn in, saying the law already required them to tell the truth.
Don't you just love these GOP standards that have such a wide berth on variables? Aren't these the people who mercilessly tout moral superiority as an M.O.?

10th-Nov-2005 03:58 am (UTC)
I never did understand why they had Congressional hearings about major league baseball.
10th-Nov-2005 04:02 am (UTC)
"What's that, you say? 30 more service members dead today in Iraq? Our polls are slipping again? There are no rich white girls missing? Hmmmmm... OH, LOOK!! STEROIDS!!!"
10th-Nov-2005 05:17 am (UTC)
As in what was written in the link you posted and almost everything that I've heard in the media, all that is mentioned are profits. In business, a profit margin is the measure the amount of money that a company is making. The prfit margins for the oil companies have remained relatively flat. They have remained in the 6-10% range. As a comparison, there's a German automobile manufacturer called BMW. Their profit margin for the past year was 7%. Compare that to Chevron's profit margin of 6.6%. Maybe the Senate needs to subpoena the BMW North America execs, if not their CEO from Germany.

Compare the profit margins of the oil companies with the pharmaceutical companies. The profit margins of the oil companies ranged from Marathon's 4.8 percent to Exxon Mobil Corp.'s 11.2 percent in the third quarters. Merck &Co. Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. had profit margins of 26.2 percent and 22.1 percent respectively.

Maybe Neville Isdell whose company has a 5 year profit margin of 18.7% or Bob Nardelli whose company had a profit margin of 31.75% for the fiscal year 2004 need to go to capital hill too. They are CEOs of two of the largest companies headquartered in Georgia, one on North Avenue, and one in Vinings.
10th-Nov-2005 09:31 am (UTC)
If the price of oil jumped that far in such a short time, why did the stated profits not increase for the fiscal quarter? I wonder if the writeoff for any equipment lost in the hurricanes justified the situation.
Of course, people mustn't forget that the oil companies themselves are not completely to blame for local price gouging; gas station owners, on the other hand, may be.

As for the pharmaceutical companies, I bet a huge chunk of the profit margin gets fed back into R&D. It's an investment by the owners, and makes sense from industry and personal standpoints.
10th-Nov-2005 01:28 pm (UTC)
Profits DID increase. You'll get no argument with me about that. Profit margins were fairly steady.

As for pharmaceutical companies, the definition of profit margin is basically the amount of money relative to the revenue AFTER expenses such as R&D.
10th-Nov-2005 03:10 pm (UTC)
As I understand it (or understood it when I worked at a gas station, long ago) the individual stations have very little control over the price of the gas, and actually make very little (pennies really) no matter how much it goes up. It's the distributors, somewhere up the chain, that set the bulk of the prices.
10th-Nov-2005 01:13 pm (UTC)
I myself would be more pleased had there instead been a discussion UNDER OATH about price gouging at a corporate level to possibly account for the increase, perhaps then there could be a clearer window into providing answers that would sate a huge public interest in the hows and whys. Clever bringing BMW into it, although I don't really get the tie-in to a German luxury auto maker with a contrasted annual .04% profit increase -vs- the quarter PM in the article, dollar amount notwithstanding as that is just semantics. Was that just for my personal benefit as I'm an admirer of BMW? Are you suggesting that BMW holds a monopoly on a conglomerate of automobile availability in the US? Or that somehow BMW lays exploitative claim to a natural resource used by the vast majority of the population of this country?

You'll get no argument whatsoever from me on the pharmeceutical companies, it is the same kind of scenario as far as I'm concerned and I would take as much umbrage to their not being sworn in as I would that of Big Oil in a similar circumstance.

Being unfamiliar with the CEOs of the companies in your last paragraph and whether or not they provide services utilized by the overwhelming majority of society, I have nothing to rebut to that effect.
10th-Nov-2005 01:37 pm (UTC)
Given my statements above, there wouldn't be any price gouging.

The article you mentioned is really useless, about like 95% of the articles on this subject out there. It mentions NOTHING about profit margin. As for bringing BMW into it, I knew you made a comment about BMW a few days back. The auto industry and oil industry roughly have the same number of players. You will be able to argue that the product by the oil companies is pretty much the same from company to company. The point in bringing BMW into it is that the oil companies have not been making an exorbitant margin relative to other companies. Given that oil IS a limited resource(although I won't see an end to it in my lifetime) the margins should be higher, right?

The CEOs mentioned are from Coke(North Ave) and Home Depot(Vinings), two companies that have a more much dominant share of their respective markets than any of the oil companies.
10th-Nov-2005 03:03 pm (UTC)
I hear you, and I don't think the core issue should even be about profit margins but instead about justification. Given the reserves and the speed with which the jumps took place, I think there is a lot in the way of accountability and fairness that probably will not get played out for scrutiny for one reason or another. I don't care how much money is being made in the private sector by goods or services that are mostly elective, but it is a different story when there's a war going on that has a direct influence on a product monopoly. People profit off misery, it has always happened and always will unfortunately. Take the funeral industry, for example. In many cases there are similarities, only not quite so glaringly obvious.

My original point is that the congressional hearings on MLB steroid use were ridiculous to begin with, but the players involved were held to a higher standard by the GOP than were these CEO's. Not one baseball player's usage of illicit drugs would have a negative effect on the way people in this country commute to work or school or travel in general, affect the costs of industry or shipping or goods pricing in deference to exhorbitant shipping costs - yet the hearings happened and the persons involved were held to a much higher standard than were these CEO's. My issue is fairness acoss the boards.

I could care less about Coke or Home Depot, as they are not in league with oil companies now are they holding monopolies on a product that isn't elective by the consumer at large.
10th-Nov-2005 05:34 pm (UTC)
So... profit margins don't matter at all? How would that be any different from a savings account with Wachovia at 4% vs one at BofA that pays 2%? Let me guess... you'd choose BofA. Corporations are around to make money for their stockholders. This is all about economics, not any military conflict. As long as they don't start some ridiculous windfall tax, we'll be OK. If you have any questions about what happened the last time they did that, you ought to check it out. It wasn't nice. Supplies were lower, prices even higher, and lines longer.

To your original point, the baseball players were all issues subpoenas to appear before the Congressional Committee. None of the oil executives were. That is the reason they were not sworn in, like it or not.
10th-Nov-2005 01:42 pm (UTC)
that IS a darling new little icon puppy...
bless your tender little soul
10th-Nov-2005 03:04 pm (UTC)
10th-Nov-2005 03:06 pm (UTC)
icon , Puppy..

I was calling you puppy
term of endearment I stole from an dear big honkin dyke girlfriend of mine..
she called everyone, puppy.
10th-Nov-2005 03:11 pm (UTC)
and this really is a fascinating topic....it's wild
10th-Nov-2005 03:14 pm (UTC)
I knew an old queen that used to insist on calling me "petal". I still cringe when I hear that word.
10th-Nov-2005 03:05 pm (UTC)
Easy: drug abuse is a social issue. Neocons care about social issues. Price gouging in the marketplace is a financial / political issue. They don't care so much about that. In fact, if they weren't trying to polish off their image and make it seem like they actually care about those they're governing, I doubt the oil execs would have been there at all. This way they're paying lip service to the quick jump in standard-of-living costs without actually doing anything. In short, they're awesome. Vote for them. Because if you don't, you hate America and probably eat babies.
10th-Nov-2005 03:09 pm (UTC) - I love you, man!!
Christian babies, at that!
10th-Nov-2005 05:26 pm (UTC) - Re: I love you, man!!
Not just Christian babies, but PERSECUTED Christian babies, because all Christians are, you know, being persecuted by those evil EDUCATED types.
10th-Nov-2005 10:49 pm (UTC) - Re: I love you, man!!
See? You don't have anti-Christian bias. If anything, you're biased pro-Christian. They taste so good in a ginger sauce.

I'm going to hell, aren't I?
10th-Nov-2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
Please please PLEASE tell me you guys will vote the Republicans OUT OF OFFICE soon. Please? I don't care if I don't actually live in the States, this is getting to be too much to bear. And the fact that the Republicans are doing so well by catering to the religious fanatics is getting the Canadian version of the party to try the same tactics.
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