Evil Exxon

Bill Dunkelberg, a professor of economics at Temple University and former dean of the Fox school of business there, periodically issues random thoughts on public policy as it relates to his arena of academic interest. His April 24 “Notes on the Economy” includes this gem regarding that Great Economic Satan, Exxon Mobil:

Some presidential candidates have decided that Exxon is a symbol of what is wrong with America. Recent ads complain of Exxon’s 40 billion in profits as if Exxon is some evil entity. First of all, Exxon is not a person, it is millions of owners owning over 5 billion shares in their investment portfolios. Vanguard holds over 160 million shares for its clients, Fidelity over 100 million shares. Taking Exxon’s profits for hair-brained government schemes will just mean millions of people will have to work longer to accumulate their retirement assets. And, doesn’t return on investment count? 40 billion may not represent a particularly good return on the capital invested in the company. Size is not the issue, the percentage return is what counts.

And the government takes over 40 cents a gallon in tax, far more than the profit per gallon made by refiners. And the government doesn’t make any gas for you.

Hopefully voters will catch on to this sham. The last thing we need is government confiscating private sector profits and driving stock prices down. No help for our retirement and no help for the economy.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. And in case you’re curious, Cato receives no money from Exxon Mobil … although we’d be happy to take a big check if they were to offer one.