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As in World War II, the President Should Limit Oil Profits

By Gene C. Gerard  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   No comments
President Bush frequently compares the war in Iraq to World War II. While giving a speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy last year Mr. Bush noted, “Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States.” Last month, while speaking at a ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of World War II, Mr. Bush remarked, “We are again a nation at war. Once again, war came to our shores with a surprise attack that killed thousands in cold blood.”

While many Americans are dubious about these comparisons, perhaps we should take the president at his word. Maybe we are engaged in a global war. If that’s the case, then there is ample precedent for Mr. Bush to limit oil profits. Americans expect the president to do something that will lower the cost of gasoline.

Since last year gasoline prices have risen 44 percent. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the price of gasoline skyrocketed. The oil companies Citgo, Mobil, and Marathon all increased their gasoline prices by an average of 45 cents. The Department of Energy received over 5,000 calls in one day from consumers complaining that gasoline stations were gouging them. In Georgia, gasoline prices at some stations exceeded $6.00 per gallon. In Michigan, gasoline prices jumped almost $1.00 overnight.

Oil companies have made huge profits in recent years. Exxon Mobil has seen a 32 percent increase in its profits since 2004. Likewise, ConocoPhillips enjoyed a 56 percent increase in profits since last year. Much of the record profits are attributable to the fact that these companies bought oil reserves years ago when the prices were $10 to $25 per barrel. Oil prices are now going for upwards of $65 per barrel.

The price of gasoline and many other items also soared in World War II. Corporate profits more than doubled between 1939 and 1943. As a result, the federal government sought to lower prices and limit corporate profits during the war. This was accomplished largely by the Office of Price Administration.

In 1941 President Roosevelt created the Office of Price Administration (OPA). The OPA was given the authority to determine the price of a product that it determined to be “generally fair and equitable.” Congress gave credence to this new governmental agency by passing the Emergency Price Control Act in 1942. The OPA also had the authority to sue corporations and retailers for damages if they violated the price limits. During the last year of World War II over 71,000 retailers were forced to pay $5.1 million for violating price limits.

Much like recent polls which have shown that Americans consider gasoline prices to be one of the most pressing issues that the government must address, in 1942 polls showed that the public wanted the government to limit the prices of many commodities. Consequently, the OPA simply froze most prices at their March 1942 level.

Businessmen complained that these governmental limitations on profits and prices violated their rights. However, the Supreme Court disagreed. In the case of Yakus v. United States, the Court ruled in 1944, “There is no principle of law or provision of the Constitution which precludes Congress from making criminal the violation of an administration regulation.”

When the war ended the OPA was abolished. Not surprisingly, corporate profits soared. In the year following the end of World War II consumer prices rose 67.4%. According to economic historian Harold Vatter, one of the “…outstanding economic performance achievements by the United States in World War II… was holding down prices, mainly by general government controls.”

President Bush insists that we are engaged in a global battle similar to the Second World War. If that’s the case, he should insist on limiting soaring oil prices. He has both historical and legal precedents to support this. However, it’s hard to imagine that he will. Given his close ties to the business community, and especially the oil industry, it seems likely that he won’t do much to stop rising gasoline prices.

Gene C. Gerard taught history, religion, and ethics for 14 years at several colleges in the Southwest, and is a contributing author to the forthcoming book “Americans at War,” by Greenwood Press. He can be contacted at


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Rob Kall Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

Check out his platform at

He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity  

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization (more...)

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