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America: Under Siege By The Oil Industry

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America: Under Siege By The Oil Industry

The American people and the American economy are under siege by the Oil Industry. Exploding fuel prices are making it very difficult for working class citizens, residents of rural America, traveling workers, independent truckers, farmers, small businesses, those on fixed incomes and scores of other groups of citizens to survive financially.

Oil companies are passing on higher wholesale prices and making excessive profits to the American consumer. Quarter after financial quarter, these companies are setting record profits. Billions of dollars in profits come from the growing misery of middle class and working poor Americans.

The nature of the Oil Industry calls for a serious reorganization to make it serve the national interest instead of the private financial interests of a few huge investors and top executives. The global economy pushed on Americans by huge corporations has made the current organization of our energy sector destructive to the rest of the American economy. A few international oil companies and government-run oil sectors in the producing nations are effectively working against America 's national interests in their pricing of oil products. They are seeking prices as high as the market will bear instead of seeking a reasonable return on investment. By working together, these companies and governments are price-gouging consumers.

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An effective market system requires that consumers are able to bid down prices. The very nature of energy in the global economy makes this impossible when all suppliers are acting collectively to bid up prices and curb alternatives. The sheer political power of Big Oil in the Bush Administration and the Republican Party has made the consumer powerless in setting policy. The Oil Industry is essentially running our federal government via the Bush Republicans.

American consumers are potentially powerful enough to drive down global oil prices if they acted collectively. The only mechanism that would be able to represent all American consumers collectively would be the federal government. It is time to consider a national discussion about either nationalizing or heavily regulating the actions of Big Oil.

The oil companies should be given an opportunity to start driving down oil prices with the strong support of our federal government rather than be nationalized. Our federal government could outlaw the import of excessively priced oil. We could ban all imports or trade with nations whose government-run oil sectors are charging excessive prices. We could ban imports from other oil consuming nations who fail to support our oil pricing policies. The longer we wait to take action, the weaker our bargaining position becomes!

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Punishing politicians who fail to fight price-gouging by Big Oil should control how every American votes in 2006 and 2008. If the Bush Administration and Big Oil had let the current oil price increases happen before the 2004 election, the Republicans would have lost all 50 states! As voters come to realize that voting Republican means high fuel prices, the Republican Party will have great difficulty winning honest elections.

 

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Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio and author of the Democratic Voices opinion column.

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