Theft or boondoggle?

Her idea sounds so obnoxious I felt it deserved a second column.

You maybe read last week’s column. About Hillary’s remarks about Big Oil’s record profits. “I want to take those profits and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy; alternatives and technologies that will begin to actually move us toward the direction of independence.”

I wrote that when politicians feel they are entitled to take anyone’s profits for their ideas you should worry. It amounts to larceny. It is theft from millions of purses. Including yours. You either own shares. Or your pension plan does. Or your community foundation does. Or your mutual funds do. Or your insurance company does. Or your church does. Those profits belong to investors. Not to Hillary. Not to any government.

By the way, that theft from oil companies will surely drive gasoline and heating oil prices higher.

The theft will drive stock prices lower. It will will frighten investors away from oil stocks. And from other industries that might get punished for earning too much profit.

I wonder: Would Hillary cheer if ExxonMobil profits fell? Would it make her happy if Big Oil did not do so well? ‘Tis a point worth a ponder. A grim one. Our largest companies, that benefit tens of millions of us. Doing poorly. Hooray!

Another few points to consider: What do oil companies do with profits? They pour tens of billions into searching for more oil. Into pipelines and tankers to deliver it. Into experiments in better ways of drilling. Oil companies deliver to you gasoline that is cheaper than it was 40 years ago. When you factor in inflation, it is cheaper now than then.

They also pay out billions in dividends. To stockholders who took the risk of investing in them. And if you have any investments directly or indirectly in the market, you get a share of those dividends.

They also pay tens of billions to the government in taxes. The largest oil companies paid over $100 billion in taxes last year. In 25 years they’ve paid nearly $400 billion.

Isn’t this enough? Does it make sense to punish this? That is what confiscating profits amounts to.

Taking profits to invest in alternative energy is a fool’s game.

History is littered with the carcasses of industries that politicians funnelled money to. Ask Jimmy Carter. He squandered billions of your tax dollars on synfuel projects that flopped.

Ask the Japanese. Their politicians were certain they knew what industries would surge ahead. So they poured taxpayer billions into them. Only to see some go crashing on their faces.

What do you think Amtrak is? It is the misguided boondoggle of politicians. They continue to waste billions on it.

Britain’s socialists confiscated whole industries. They took them from the owners and made them government corporations. Because politicians felt they knew better than owners just how to spend the profits. It was an utter disaster.

Let’s go back to the subject of alternative energy. When government sinks your money into any project it says - in effect - it knows more than investors do.

If alternative energy ideas are worthwhile, investors will find them and fund them. And if you think Big Oil will find ways to keep them from developing you have your head in the sand. The sand of conspiracy thinking.

Our free market investors will identify good ideas. They will risk their money. They will lose much of it on countless ideas that don’t pan out. They will make fortunes on the few ideas that do.

Politicians who figure they know better than private investors are ignorant and arrogant. Ignorant of history. If they read any history they would read about other arrogant politicians who wasted taxpayers money on their ideas. Or stole investors’ money to do the same.

‘Tis an ancient adage: Others always think they know better ways to spend your money than you do.

From in Morgan.

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