McCain v Obama

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby ryguy » Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:12 pm

Oh - by the way, if you see the "Get a free Obama Sticker" ad on the top of this page, definitely take advantage of it. I submitted my info for one and got it within a few weeks. It's a great sticker...looks great in the back windshield of my Mazda6 - no, I don't stick bumper stickers on my car...lol

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:22 am

ryguy wrote:(although Obama will clearly do much better....lol).


If you really believe that, and are not being fascetious, then perhaps you can answer the question "What is a Windfall Profit?". The lack of strict definition could be a source of serious embarassment for Obama's rhetoric, no matter how one defines it...as pointed out today by the WSJ:

http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB1 ... 08495.html

The point is that what constitutes an abnormal profit is entirely arbitrary. It is in the eye of the political beholder, who is usually looking to soak some unpopular business. In other words, a windfall is nothing more than a profit earned by a business that some politician dislikes. And a tax on that profit is merely a form of politically motivated expropriation.

It's what politicians do in Venezuela, not in a free country.


This, of all of Obama's "ideas" is the most dangerous and egregious to our market economy... at a time when our economy does not need such nonsense!

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby ryguy » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:15 am

Shouldn't the more important question be - why are Oil Companies currently enjoying "windfall profits"...within the current economic climate? Here you and I are, paying two to three times what we paid for oil last year (those of us who have to heat our homes with oil up in the Northeast that is)....and there these smug corporate jerks sit in front of congress and play dumb.

If you ask me, Obama's plan isn't harsh enough.

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby Chorlton » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:26 am

Sorry to keep poking my nose into your politics But the Windfall tax bit is very relevant to us in the UK RIGHT at this moment.

British Gas the UK's biggest home energy provider have just announced a 35% price increase. YES 35% :shock:
Several days later they announce profits of £1Billion (that has to be around $2Billion) and the Government announces it may impose windfall taxeson the energy providers (EDF hits us with 22%increase)

But whilst the increased prices are going to hit the people, what will the Government do with the Windfall Tax?
Give it to the people who need it the most? ha haha AHAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Is this what Obama's on about?

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby Zep Tepi » Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:33 am

Chorlton, when I heard that news I almost flew into an incandescent rage. Instead I just ending up kicking the cat.

Guess who switched to British Gas just a couple of weeks ago? Grrrr!
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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby Chorlton » Tue Aug 05, 2008 1:23 pm

Zep Tepi wrote:Chorlton, when I heard that news I almost flew into an incandescent rage. Instead I just ending up kicking the cat.

Guess who switched to British Gas just a couple of weeks ago? Grrrr!


Ive switched twice in this house.Once from Southern electric to British gas, then a few months back I switched to Scottish power and save at least £10 a month.
I examine the rates every year and switch providers then, collecting my 'switching fee' on the way ! Kachiiiing
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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:43 pm

Ryan,

ryguy wrote:Shouldn't the more important question be - why are Oil Companies currently enjoying "windfall profits"...within the current economic climate?


Is that your way of avoiding the question? Do I need to remind you of the T&C's for this board? :wink: But did you actually read the article? How you define windfall profits can and will have a distinct effect on a great many businesses...many which make a great deal more profit than oil. Seriously, Ryan, I would like you to go through the exercise for how we would define "windfall". Because the "windfall" would be the government coffers if you applied any definition uniformly.

If Exxon-Mobil's profit margin was 10% (and that is inline with UTC's profits) then perhaps it is time to tax your parent company for its "windfalls"? Of course, the cost would be passed on to the customers, so no big deal for you (or is it?). More on this from the article:

If that's what constitutes windfall profits, most of corporate America would qualify. Take aerospace or machinery -- both 8.2% in 2007. Chemicals had an average margin of 12.7%. Computers: 13.7%. Electronics and appliances: 14.5%. Pharmaceuticals (18.4%) and beverages and tobacco (19.1%) round out the Census Bureau's industry rankings. The latter two double the returns of Big Oil, though of course government has already became a tacit shareholder in Big Tobacco through the various legal settlements that guarantee a revenue stream for years to come.


So please, Ryan, answer the question. Or if you can't do that, please explain how we are going to enact a "windfall profits tax" that is FAIR!

Here you and I are, paying two to three times what we paid for oil last year (those of us who have to heat our homes with oil up in the Northeast that is)....and there these smug corporate jerks sit in front of congress and play dumb.


You act like you don't understand supply and demand and I know that is not true. Let me ask you another question: Do you own any oil company stock, or any shares in an energy mutual fund? I do. Both. And I have owned these since prior to 2000. Would you like for me to tell you what "big oil" profits were like all through the 90s? Let me just give you a hint: They would have LOVED to have made even 8% back then when oil was $40 a barrel. The thing is, because I have a diversified portfolio, my energy stocks and mutual funds are actually preventing a TOTAL DISASTER of my retirement fund! So I am damn glad that SOMEWHERE in my retirement fund I am offsetting the big losses elsewhere.

If you ask me, Ryan, I get the feeling you have drank the cool aid. It is not fair (and pretty much a socialist move, not a market-based understanding) to "go after" one industry that you tend to think is a "bad guy" when all the facts (hard numbers) show they are not making any more profits than many other industries. If we are seriously going to entertain a "windfall profits tax" are you honestly going to tell me you are "for" not defining it clearly and fairly? Are you honestly telling me that you want to single-out ONE business just because supply and demand has made their product costly?

I really do want to know how you would define this such that it is fair to all businesses, Ryan.
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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:54 pm

And why is there no outrage against OPEC????? Clearly they are a cartel who is engaged in price-fixing!

Why does everyone immediately get angry with valid businesses who are working within our market-based economy, but give a free-pass to foreign organizations that operate on draconian, greedy premises? Who is REALLY making the most money from the market price of oil? If you think it is the oil companies and not the companies that own the oil fields and pump it, then maybe you have drunk the cool aid!

Why?
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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby ryguy » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:56 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:I really do want to know how you would define this such that it is fair to all businesses, Ryan.
Ray


Cool...ok we can do that. Although before we move forward, and before definitions are laid out, we first need to add a word in front of it that differentiates the Oil Company business model from other businesses - and that is this:

"Ethical".

So now we have "Ethical Windfall Profits."

Now there's something I'd be more than happy to define for you - since it describes exactly what the oil company's "windfall profits" are not.

Let's examine the ways energy companies attempt to "tamper" with the market that you so willingly place your faith and trust in.

http://www.cftc.gov/files/enf/04orders/enfcoral-order.pdf

“The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today the issuance of an administrative order (order) initiating and simultaneously settling charges of false reporting and attempted manipulation of natural gas transactions by Coral Energy Resources, L.P. (Coral).” The findings in the order included “from at least January 2000 through September 2002, Coral reported false, misleading or knowingly inaccurate natural gas trading information, including price and volume information, to certain price reporting firms such as Inside FERC’s Gas Market Report, and Natural Gas Intelligence” and that “Coral attempted to manipulate natural gas prices by delivering trade information to the price reporting firms with the intent to affect the market price of natural gas. The order finds that Coral reported information about trades that never occurred, altered price and volume information for certain trades, and failed to report some actual trades, all with the intent to affect the market price of natural gas.”


In this 2006 hearing where the Oil companies were "cleared" of charges of price gouging, the dissenting opinions were pretty telling...

But FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz issued a dissenting statement charging that the oil industry, which “posted record profits in 2006” should not view the findings "in any way a vindication of its behavior."

The "investigation found price gouging by refiners under the Congressionally mandated definition and beyond that, disturbing conduct by even more petroleum companies. But the question you ask determines the answer you get,” Leibowitz said in his dissent.

Leibowitz said the FTC simply developed a "theoretical model for why gasoline prices likely increased" and noted that a separate investigation into gasoline pricing after hurricanes Katrina and Rita did find examples of price gouging by refiners.


Here's a great blog entry outlining why supply and demand isn't as much a factor here as speculation (by anonymous traders, mind you) is a factor.

Blog Link Here

Here’s another little eye opener that will make you see why some folks swear the price of oil is going up due to a true supply and demand issue. When a trader or speculator buys a Futures contract, they are literally buying oil, corn, coffee, etc. In other words, they are buying oil and will take delivery of that oil, unless they sell all contracts before the contract expires. Most traders will sell all open contracts before they expire. When a trader/speculator has no intention of actually buying oil, but is instead buying to invest in oil futures contracts for the sole purpose of making money, then they are creating what I call speculation demand and are creating a pseudo-supply and demand.

So…who do we thank for all this pseudo-supply and demand? The latest controversy is ICE (InterContinental Exchange), an energies trading exchange. From everything I have read and heard about ICE, it is unrestricted and traders are virtually anonymous. Only the “big boy” oil trading banks know who is trading oil contracts. It’s only one of several energies or oil trading exchanges, but it seems to have the most influence on oil speculation.


On a commodity that people need in order to survive, it is simply unethical - no matter how pretty you wrap it up with an economic bow. Supply isn't really down (not yet anyway)...people won't be able to afford oil to survive if prices stay where they are at this winter.

The only upside is that, thankfully, the market can't support these prices. People are being forced to drastically reduce demand (have you seen the number of scooters on the roads...wow!)...so thankfully prices are finally forced to drop. Goes to show that the market, in time, can recover from the hype that speculating generates - but the damage it causes can't be undone.

The answer, of course, is greater regulation. (I'm sure you agree with that, Ray? LOL)

Short of that - Obama's plan will at least send a signal to big oil that their "boy" is no longer in power.

With all of that said, Ray, I do concede of course that most of the money-men and investors on Wall-Street agree with you. On Wall-Street...profit, regardless of "why", is good. That's the nature of the beast, I guess.

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby ryguy » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:42 pm

What is one thing Obama would do with the money taken back from the Oil companies?

[http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93194923&ft=1&f=1012

Obama's economic plan would send $1,000 "emergency" rebate checks to consumers struggling with increased energy costs. The goal, he said, is to offset the cost of gasoline and heating bills over a four-month period.


I realize $1000 is a drop in the pan for some people....but for a lot of folks up here in the Northeast - it'll pay for at least one tank fill-up this winter, and could actually save lives.

Considering that I've personally seen news reports around here of people dying during extreme cold-spells because of lack of electricity or heat - I'm not really one that you'll likely find shedding a tear for oil companies who are profiting from prices that run far above their true costs to produce the oil (hence the rediculous profits).

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby ryguy » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:47 pm

I'm such a dork...I should have just let Obama speak for himself...lol

From the article I cited in the above post:

*****
Interviewer: You know because of the timing of our program that many of our listeners are in their cars. And so I want to ask you about your proposal to force big oil companies to share their record-breaking windfall profits. It's hard to find an economist who supports the idea of a windfall profits tax. Most argue that this would stifle investment in oil discovery and oil production precisely at the moment when the U.S. should be encouraging more.

Obama: Classic economic theory says you don't meddle in the markets. Look, I mean, most economists buy into that approach. Exxon Mobil made $12 billion last quarter. They made $11 billion before that, and $11 billion before that, and not all of this is going into research and development — and families need some relief.

Now, I am the first to admit that what we need is a comprehensive plan, and that's what I've been putting forward for the last 18 months — making sure that we're increasing fuel-efficiency standards on cars drastically, investing in the retooling so that we can have plug-in hybrids. I have set a goal that we reduce our oil consumption by 30 percent over the next 20 years. So that's the long-term answer to rising gas prices.

But in the short term, the notion that oil companies that have been making record profits, hand over fist, can't give a little bit of that back to make sure that not just drivers but senior citizens on fixed income are going to have the ability to pay for heating this winter, which is going to be a huge potential problem — I don't think that's too much to ask.

***

I don't either.

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby Zep Tepi » Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:28 pm

ryguy wrote:The only upside is that, thankfully, the market can't support these prices.


I'll only comment on this because of its possible relevance to the situation here in the UK.
Do you think the US market would support prices of $8 a gallon? That's what we pay over here. Actually, I've only just realised that your gallons and our gallons are different? What's the deal there then lol.

A US gallon is 3.78 litres (hence $8 a gallon, where 1 litre of fuel = $2.18 over here). However, a UK gallon is 4.54 litres!? That of course would make it $9.89 a gallon. Either way, that is pure daylight robbery - YET WE STILL PAY IT!

Rising energy costs over here, coupled with the ever-rising fuel prices and well, where are the riots? We're being butt-bothered by big business yet no one seems to be all that fussed. Very strange. I think I'll go and watch that video Torbjon keeps going on about now ;)

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:26 pm

ryguy wrote:Cool...ok we can do that. Although before we move forward, and before definitions are laid out, we first need to add a word in front of it that differentiates the Oil Company business model from other businesses - and that is this:

"Ethical".

So now we have "Ethical Windfall Profits."


That is not how Mr. Obama is "selling" it, now is it? And even that addition is tenuous, at best. What you have not addressed is how you measure it. And that will forever be your stumbling block (and Obama's) because you continue to ignore other companies that make much more excessive profits.

Now there's something I'd be more than happy to define for you - since it describes exactly what the oil company's "windfall profits" are not.


Now you are just playing the emotional game, Ryan. My question remains how you measure it an apply it. Not whether it meets some ethical standard. I will still await yours (or Obama's) means for levying such a tax fairly. Unless you think that because you interpret oil company behavior as "unethical" that you think two wrongs will make a right and we should be unethical in how we levy such a tax...?

Let's examine the ways energy companies attempt to "tamper" with the market that you so willingly place your faith and trust in.


If people tamper with the market, they should go to jail. No ifs, ands, or butts. Please remember there is a difference between allegations and being convicted as guilty.

In this 2006 hearing where the Oil companies were "cleared" of charges of price gouging, the dissenting opinions were pretty telling...


How quickly your brush over the operative words: (1) They were cleared, Ryan. That means "not guilty". (2) Those dissenting from the decision (and there was only 1) stated his opinions. But again, make no mistake, if someone actually is convicted, then they should pay reparations and go to jail.

Here's a great blog entry outlining why supply and demand isn't as much a factor here as speculation (by anonymous traders, mind you) is a factor.


Blog entry? Has it come to this, Ryan? I'll see your blog entry and raise you historical facts! Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has not spent enough time researching the results of the last "windfall tax" scheme... and this is even more evidence that Obama wishes to take us back to the Jimmy Carter Economy!!

http://www.taxfoundation.org/publicatio ... /1168.html

Before rushing to create a new federal tax, lawmakers should ask two questions:

(1) Do oil companies currently pay too little in taxes compared to profits?
(2) What was the effect of the last windfall profits tax enacted in 1980?

The answer to the first question is that over the past 25 years, oil companies directly paid or remitted more than $2.2 trillion in taxes, after adjusting for inflation, to federal and state governments—including excise taxes, royalty payments and state and federal corporate income taxes. That amounts to more than three times what they earned in profits during the same period, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Department of Energy.


It is most interesting when you see just how much oil companies are already paying in taxes! They are paying more in taxes than their profits. So now whose "profit" is unethical? Do you really think it is ethical for government to demand a GREATER share of money from selling a commodity than the business itself makes in profits? But there is more to learn from history in that article:

Image
In reaction to the rise of energy prices during the late 1970s and the removal of price controls on the energy industry, President Jimmy Carter signed the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act into effect on April 2, 1980.


What is it they say again? "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Why am I feeling such a heavy deja vu when I liste to Obama?

As shown in Figure 2, the windfall profits tax was forecasted to raise more than $320 billion between 1980 and 1989. However, according to the CRS, the government collected only $80 billion in gross tax revenue ($146 billion in 2004 dollars). The net amount was actually less than this—roughly $40 billion—because the tax was deductible against corporate income.


So history already tells us what will happen. But Obama either did not learn from history, or he is purposefully being unethical in not sharing this history. You wanna talk ethical, eh? Are you going to defend ANY politician (esp. Obama) as "ethical" Ryan? But wait, the best is yet to come:

CRS also found the windfall profits tax had the effect of decreasing domestic production by 3 percent to 6 percent, thereby increasing American dependence on foreign oil sources by 8 percent to 16 percent. A side effect was declining, not increasing, tax collections. Figure 1 clearly shows that while the tax raised considerable revenue in the initial years following its enactment, those revenues declined to almost nothing as the domestic industry collapsed.


Did you get that, Ryan? The last (failed) attempt at this pifitul money-grubbing tactic by government is actually part and parcel for why we have become even MORE dependent on foreign oil! Imagine that! Bet you never saw that coming! And Steve makes a good point about comparing our gas (petrol) prices to Europe. Do you know why their prices are so much higher? Yep. TAXES! I would like for you to explain how and why any additional taxes on oil companies are NOT going to be passed on to the consumer at the pumps. Will we then need a law preventing the oil companies from passing that tax on? Honestly, Ryan, it is a total fallacy to think the increasing taxes on oil companies is going to LOWER (or even keep constant) consumer prices. It is just the opposite, and history is a hard beast to argue with... you can't win.

On a commodity that people need in order to survive, it is simply unethical - no matter how pretty you wrap it up with an economic bow. Supply isn't really down (not yet anyway)...people won't be able to afford oil to survive if prices stay where they are at this winter.


I don't believe I have ever said supply was down. But there is the other side of the equation, now isn't there? Demand is most certainly up... and supply is not being increased at anywhere near the levels to offset the greater demand. The result is a net shortage in supply due to increased demand. And to (once again) ask you to address why folks like you want to pick on "big oil" rather than OPEC, take a look at this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00500.html

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries yesterday decided to leave production unchanged despite the high cost of crude oil, contributing to a $5-a-barrel leap to a new record price and drawing a rebuke from a "disappointed" White House.


There it is. OPEC says they are not going to pump more oil. You want speculation and market-tampering? You don't even need to infer it, because the sole purpose of a cartel is to keep prices where they want them....where it benefits them the most! (Cartel - an international syndicate, combine, or trust formed esp. to regulate prices and output in some field of business.) OPEC has even deeper pockets than "big oil"...yet I wonder why Obama is not gunning for them? It is just as easy to impose a tariff on OPEC states as it is to tax "big oil". I am sure you know why he doesn't want to piss off OPEC, right Ryan?

The answer, of course, is greater regulation. (I'm sure you agree with that, Ray? LOL)


LOL indeed. I don't mean to insult you Ryan, but you have become a full-fledged Democrat. More gov regulation (which is the same as higher gov spending) is NEVER the answer to a market-based problem.

With all of that said, Ray, I do concede of course that most of the money-men and investors on Wall-Street agree with you. On Wall-Street...profit, regardless of "why", is good. That's the nature of the beast, I guess.


Do you really not know who butters the bread of US economic power? It sure as hell ain't the gov. It's Wall Street, Ryan. You know that, and I know you know that... but for the sake of your argument now it seems you want to bash Wall Street. What is next, a "windfall profits" tax on Wall Street??? #-o

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:40 am

And speaking of profits from oil, look what happened to show up in the news today:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/05/ ... index.html

Iraq is raking in more money from oil exports than it is spending, amassing a projected four-year budget surplus of up to $80 billion, U.S. auditors reported Tuesday.


So again, why are we targeting legal, free-market businesses operating in our country, but yet Iraq is off the hook? You see, this is where I am truly non-partisan and believe that FREE MARKET ECONOMICS should drive our actions. What I am just apalled by, Ryan, is that you seem to be buying into Obama's clearly vacuous, election year rhetoric. We have history to show us that "windfall proft taxes" do not work. But you seem to think it will. Just like I said in my other thread in this forum: politicians are the problem! I don't believe any promises McCain makes either. But I don't see McCain extolling a plan that failed in the past. The reality is that the more the government avoids taking action in a free market, the better. The more our governments mucks around in markets, the more it costs the taxpayer and the worse things get.

The Dems are enjoying blaming Bush for the economy...and yet they avoid talking about how the economy started going south AFTER the Dems took control of Congress. Do you think raising the minimum wage was not part of what is causing costs to increase? Thank the DEM Congress. Do you think that the bill to increase ethanol production via incentives did NOT cause food prices to go up? Thank the DEM Congress. And with Pelosi in the House of Reps and Obama in the White House, you can expect more of this... and I predict right now the economy will go from bad to worse. History supports this.

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Re: McCain v Obama

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:00 pm

More evidence... Supply and Demand:

http://money.cnn.com/2008/08/06/markets ... tm?cnn=yes

Oil prices sank on Wednesday after the government reported a surprise increase in crude inventories last week.

The decline in crude oil prices accelerated as investors continued to fret over slumping demand for energy, particularly gasoline, according to Peter Beutel, an oil analyst at Cameron Hanover.


Leave the markets alone and stay out of the pockets of corporations that you wish to brand as evil or "unethical". Instead, perhaps think about buying oil stocks... It has worked well for me and all the other owners of BP and XOM. Go check their stock performance over the last 5 years.

Am I "unethical" because I buy their stocks? LOL.
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