In a recent editorial, the New York Times makes the same argument we've also been making for a long time now, that "Congress should end the subsidies to Big Oil and redeploy the money saved to support truly new energy technologies, like wind and solar power..." Why? According to the Times, because they are "arcane and unnecessary," costing taxpayers " roughly $4 billion a year."
We'd add that these subsidies continue, even though Big Oil's raking in enormous profits on $100 per barrel oil prices. In the third quarter of 2011, for instance, the five largest U.S. oil companies made $33 billion in profits. This comes on top of huge profits in the 1st and 2nd quarters, and means that "BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell made a combined $101 billion in profits during the first nine months of 2011." What are they doing with this money?
...four of the companies are using an average of one-third of their profits to buy back their own stock. That enriches their shareholders but it doesn’t add to oil supplies or investments in alternative fuels or other new technologies.
That's right, these super-wealthy companies are using taxpayer money to further enrich themselves, including through buying back their own stock. Does that make any sense at all? The New York Times certainly doesn't think so, and neither do we.