Sacrifice and Prosperity

Today brought yet another ritual grilling of oil company executives by members of Congress, something that happens every couple of years when gas prices go up.  Have any of these Capitol Hill witch hunts ever turned up a criminal profiteer who went on to face serious charges?  Have they put a single gallon of gas in anyone’s fuel tank?

We go through this periodically because liberals need to refresh their power to designate certain industries as “evil,” and their profit margins “unfair.”  This is a source of great power over society, for domination of an industry brings power over its customers.  None of these Senate archons seems terribly worried about the profit margins of the cop-killer rap albums peddled by certain honored multi-millionaire White House guests.

The fruits of industry must become either profits or tax revenue.  The acolytes of Big Government have a powerful incentive to demonize profit, while elevating the payment of taxes to an expression of patriotism, if not a religious experience. 

That’s why congressional Democrats speak so often of “sacrifice” – an act of transcendent love, or religious devotion.  “Your sacrifice appears to be nothing,” sneered Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), after nothing that oil company executives rake in fat bonuses and salaries, while “working people struggle.” 

No, wait, that wasn’t from today.  That was from a previous oil company executive grilling in 2005.  Why not save the taxpayers some money by just recording one session of this arrogant socialist performance art, and replaying it every couple of years on C-SPAN?

Today, we had Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), whose luxurious lifestyle was financed by Standard Oil money, attack the oil executives because they’re not sufficiently committed to “shared sacrifice.”  Chevron CEO John Watson replied, “I don’t think the American people want shared sacrifice.  I think they want shared prosperity.”

“Oh, lovely statement,” Rockefeller gurgled back.  “Do you understand how out of touch that is?  We don’t get to shared prosperity until we get to shared sacrifice.”

What disgusting rubbish!  When sacrifice is not religious tribute, it is the desperate last resort of helpless prisoners trapped in circumstances beyond their control.  If that’s not how you view your life, you have no use for the likes of Jay Rockefeller.

We get to “shared prosperity” through willing cooperation, and voluntary exchange for mutual advantage.  Every government that has sought to mulch the “sacrifice” of its people into “prosperity” they could distribute like gruel has failed utterly and miserably.   Beyond the enforcement of fair and impartial laws, compulsion has no place in the formula for prosperity, and “sacrifice” is not the right word for what greedy politicians extract from a private sector they don’t understand.

In a sane world, the show trials conducted by Senate Democrats today would be their exit interviews.  They told us a lot about why they are unfit to sit in Congress, and nothing at all about the nature of oil production and refinement.  They couldn’t even use simple terms correctly, as they repeatedly referred to the reduced taxation of certain investments as “subsidies.”  No, Senators, subsidies are what you have been pouring into the black hole of your precious alternative energy boondoggles, and the people who will be forced to make “sacrifices” due to your wild deficit spending have only recently been born. 

If the Democrats want to talk about eliminating the thousands of tax breaks lurking in our fabulously complex tax code and replace it with a flat tax… well, that would be a conversation worth having, but there’s no reason to drag the CEO of Chevron to those hearings.