Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thoughts on the Economy from a Revolutionary

Well, here are my thoughts on the economy.

Most people I know have been touched by the economy -- some deeply and radically, some less so -- and I expect the same is true for you. The problems are serious, and I know they will take time and thoughtful action to repair.

I have never thought much about the economy, but I am thinking about it now. And it is clear to me that there is fallacy in the notion that the economy could continue to grow, year after year, when much of the profit is based on a finite Earth with finite resources. What we really want is to create an economy based on sustainable practices in a society which lives sustainably within the available resources.

That means using energy from the Sun -- not drilling and exploring and mining. Those practices are not sustainable, not good for the environment, and not good for our health in terms of the byproducts of using oil, coal, and gas.

In fact, just 2 days ago Exxon Mobile reported record profits of $45 billion for 2008. In October, they had also reported record profits for the 3rd quarter of 2008 of $14 billion, with income in that period of $137 billion dollars. The $45 billion profit in 2008 is higher than the previous record of profit for 1 year (their frcord of $40 billion for 2007). These numbers are profit, mind you, not income. They have already paid all the employees, paid all the bills, paid for all the equipment they want to buy, all the exploration they engage in, and that was up in 2008 as well.

I say they should be taxed heavily. Like a windfall profits tax of 99%. After all, I get taxed on my income -- my income, not profit -- so why shouldn't they? Why should they be allowed to continue their practices that harm the environment? The environment that we all live in, breath the air in, drink the water in.

After all, corporations do not have a natural right to exist. They have a legal right to exist, granted by states when corporations incorporate. That right to incorporate is not guaranteed. Imagine insisting that corporations act in the public good and the good of the environment in order to exist.

Maybe it's time for us as a people to consider whether we want companies which exploit the environment to continue to exist. After all, do record profits at a time of economic disaster reflect the public good, or public exploitation?

The Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts is short $45 million dollars for the current fiscal year, and I know similar disastrous situations are present at other universities as well. I do not know the resolution of these difficulties, but I do know that record oil company profits at the same time just do not fit into the same reality.

I repeat -- I believe we need to tax the oil company profits heavily. After all, they will go a long way to providing the funds for the economic recovery in the US.

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