I am, I admit, a paleocapitalist and (mostly a) paleoconservative. That said, I do not think oil company executives – or any other corporate executives – should have to defend their company’s profits, unless illegally gained. For that reason, this meddling strikes me as ridiculous. Lest we forget, oil is among the most volatile and fragile commodities markets, and one in which extremely large players necessarily dominate (at least on the transportation and distribution sides, if not necessarily in exploration). Large companies + large demand = large profits + large risks. There is always the risk, if not the certainty, that much of the profits major oil companies set aside today will disappear tomorrow due to actions by OPEC or Chavez, diminishing supply, or some other forces beyond any executive’s control.
Part of living in a capitalist society means accepting this state of affairs as generally good. We allow – even embrace and reward – those who are willing to take risks and build socially productive enterprises, because they reduce inefficiencies in a given market in ways that governments, time and time again, have been proven incapable of doing.
Meeting a demand with a legally obtained supply at a legally determined price the consumer is willing to pay is called being a good business person. That never should require defending one’s rational actions to the government.
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