A lot of people have been piling on the oil industry in the last several months, pointing, often, to billions in tax breaks for a fully mature industry that wields almost unparalleled power around the globe. Yesterday, Democratic staffers on the House Natural Resources Committee put out a report, Profits and Pink Slips, that also looks at whether all this taxpayer-subsidized wealth is providing any returns in terms of job creation. Link – Profits and Pink Slips
The major findings of the staff report include:
Together, the Big Five oil companies:
• Recorded $36 billion in profits in the second quarter of this year.
• Repurchased nearly $10 billion worth of their own stock in the second quarter alone,
thereby boosting the value of remaining shares.
• Distributed more than $7 billion in dividend payments to their investors in the second
• Paid their executives a total of nearly $220 million in 2010.
Despite these massive profits, oil companies are not creating jobs in the United States or
• Despite generating $546 billion in profits between 2005 and 2010, ExxonMobil,
Chevron, Shell, and BP combined to reduce their U.S. workforce by 11,200 employees
over that time.
• Just in 2010 alone, the big 5 oil companies reduced their global workforce by a
combined 4,400 employees, while making a combined $73 billion in profits
The document, btw, notes, “This report has not been officially adopted by the Committee on Natural Resources and may not necessarily reflect the views of its Members.” No kidding.
Corporate America has, for the most part, always preached – directly or through surrogates – that if you just get government out of our way, we’ll create an economic paradise. Really? We cut taxes and regulation in the Bush II years and got the worse growth record in decades and the worst recession since the 1930s to boot. The last time corporations roamed free, pre-1933, when the New Dealers came in, US economic history was riddled with instability, with panics and economic upheaval coming every decade or so. Workers were little more than slaves, and don’t even ask about the environment.
If we’re going to put things right, we need to go back to a just tax and regulatory environment, strengthen the hand of unions to protect workers, and curb excesses like the ones described in this report.