About once a day you can count on President Biden tweeting about evil oil companies making money hand over fist while “excess profits are going back to their shareholders and their executives.”
As much fun as it is to watch the president attempt to turn “profit” into the next dirty word, I respectfully suggest he’s out of his damned mind on this track. I mean it’s not as if oil companies are chartered non-profit organizations. The whole point of investing in a company is the expectation that you’ll receive a return on that investment. The board and corporate executives would probably have some legal liability if they weren’t actively trying to return value to shareholders. The shareholders are the ones bearing the risk that accompanies running a business after all.
I know that POTUS and his Twitter account like to pretend it’s just the 1% getting dividends… but according to a Gallup report dated May 12, 2022 the number of Americans who hold individual stock shares or who are invested through mutual funds or IRAs is in the neighborhood of 58%. That number probably ticks up a bit if you account for the various and sundry pension plans that also invest widely across the whole market. Even without accounting for pension funds, that’s a majority of Americans who stand to gain when businesses profit, dividends are paid, or stock is bought back by the company. That large percentage of Americans being “in the market” in some way would seem to indicate their belief in the power of growth and profit.
Maybe the big buy backs and dividends would be moderated a bit by a political environment that was more encouraging of entrepreneurship, of R&D, or of exploration. As it is, Big Energy doesn’t have much incentive to spend money on those things under an administration that would very much like to kill off their entire sector. Companies tend to invest when they have a nice stable regulatory environment, rather than when the government keeps threatening to yank the rug out from under them.
Our president, it seems, wants to have it both ways. He wants the cash cow to fund the welfare state but he also wants to butcher it and sell off the pieces. Having said that, if President Biden were serious about any of this, he’d be working with Congressional leaders to cut off federal subsidies to the energy industry and the broader system of subsidies in general instead of Tweeting about it every afternoon. I’d be the first one on board if he made that pitch. Until then, I’d appreciate it if Mr. Biden could give it a rest with trying to demonize the profit motive.