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-- rotten elf

Big Oil Completely Innocent

by Reverend CyberSatan

2006-05-23 15:26:07

Buried somewhere in the relatively insignificant annals of this afternoon's secondary or tertiary news stories is a little piece about how the Federal Trade Commission has released its report that Big Oil hasn't been gouging Americans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, or any time in the last 20 years, for that matter. There's been no market manipulation, no Enron-like scams, no nada. Big Oil has played by all the rules, succumbed to market forces, and otherwise been an upstanding capitalist citizen. Thank gawd the FTC was there to vindicate their buddies! The mind boggles as to what an actual investigation by a non-conflicted FTC might have found.

When I say "conflicted," I'm not talking about the usual roster of ex-oil junkies that pollute the Bush administration like so many empty beer cans at a Hells Angels barbecue. The FTC commissioners are all picked by the president and confirmed by the Senate, like most other appointees. The FTC rules are set up so that no more than three commissioners are allowed from a single political party. With a panel of five, that means that "balance" is achieved by a two-vote minority. Well, maybe not balance, but at least some obstruction if need be.

The current lineup of commissioners seems pretty balanced at first glance. Even a perfunctory scan of their relevant speeches looks reasonable. Then you start reading the speeches and opinions. That's when the whitewash leaps out. This group of commissioners has wanted to write the Big Oil report for years. These, coincidentally, are the same years during which Big Oil has become synonymous with Big Profit. Clearly someone was in a hurry for absolution and finally scored the right lineup of excusatory priests. One concurring opinion of FTC commissioner Jon Liebowitz reads like a play-by-play public relations press release from Big Oil, featuring such lame defenses as high oil cost, refinery problems, "provincial" gasoline mixes, and that always pesky "foreign demand." Even if the Commission is meant to be a balanced partisan endeavor, it seems clear that the Bush Bunch found the most sympathetic "lefties" they could and stocked the farm with them.

Anyone who seriously thinks that there's been no collusion or manipulation by Big Oil of factors justifying pump prices is living in a fool's paradise of rotten fruit and moribund meats. The way Big Oil exterminated independent service stations by utilizing restrictive purchasing requirements in franchise contracts demonstrates how invisible machinations produce catastrophic results. By wiping the natural competitors in the field, the oligarchs made the wild market all the more manageable, and malleable. What's good for One is good for All. All the time. We have to believe what they say because, well, there's no other story out there.

If you've been waiting for that big congressional investigation to root out the evils wrought by Big Oil, you can fucking forget about it. The FTC report gives all Senators and Congressmen/women the ability to say, "Well, that's that." Prosecuting Big Oil is simply impossible. Too many in Congress get money either directly or indirectly from Big Oil, be it campaign contributions, PAC donations, or, at the very least, stock dividends. Whatever chest-thumping outrage gets lip-served to the public in times when profiteering threatens yet another recession, the disappointing truth is that no one in Congress wants to investigate BIG OIL because the investigation will go nowhere. Somewhere along the line, enough pressure will be applied in subtle, yet effective, places to stymie any look behind the Black Curtain. Big Oil is ruthless, swift, unbelievably rich, well-connected, brutal, and capable of learning from others' mistakes. No Senator on Congressman/woman wants to stick their pencil neck into such an obvious guillotine.

No. Far better to bluster to the press, save face with the public, and wait for the FTC to issue a "Get Out of Hell For Free" report that obviates the need for any such potentially threatening investigation. Now that Big Oil has been cleared for twenty years of rape, sodomy, plunder, conversion, obstruction, obfuscation, fraud, extortion, robbery, and the Death of the American Dream, I'm sure everyone on Capitol Hill can go right back to the useless, spineless, soulless bureaucratic dickering they were engaged in before Dick and Jane Middleclass got in a tizz because the fuelling the Hummer was cutting into the cocaine and porn budget. If not, there's always Ambien.

But don't take my word for it. Utilize your dwindling Constitutional rights and see for yourself.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

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