Three seemingly unrelated bits of news.
First, in a surprise announcement, Exxon reported another quarter of record profits. The company said total daily production slipped to 2.45 million barrels of oil equivalent from 2.51 million barrels. And they still made more money this quarter than they did last quarter! Meanwhile, gas prices continue to climb. Sure, they came down after the storm between Katrina and Wilma (What was that called again? There are still places without power, but the media isn't reporting that, because Katrina got civil rights.) But the holiday season is coming, and people will drive, so the prices will go back up.
Coincidentally, at a recent Exxon health clinic, the company saved even more money by giving their employees fake flu shots.
Second, CBS News recently reported on a stunning story: Bigger houses mean bigger energy bills!
Soaring prices for natural gas and heating oil are making big open spaces much more expensive to keep warm. So homeowners already contending with higher property taxes and, in some cases, larger mortgage payments, are also juggling bigger energy bills. . . . When William Levitt --? considered by some to be the father of suburbia --? began building houses in 1947 for U.S. servicemen on Long Island, the single-family homes averaged about 800 square feet. Today, new homes in the U.S. average 2,300 to 2,400 square feet and ceilings are higher, creating much more space that needs to be heated . . . the annual energy cost today is $1,454, compared with $1,190 ten years ago.
Before I get to the third thing, remember that I mentioned that more folks are already making their credit card payments late, and that under pressure from the government to do something about the staggering personal debt that has hamstrung the economy, credit card companies have doubled their minimum payments, and, oh yeah!, banks have started charging denial fees at ATMs.
Now I'm ready to report the third, unrelated news story.
Helen Thomas, (You know: the famously unbiased journalist who once said she would kill herself if Dick Cheney were to become president), wrote recently that after passing themselves a pay raise, Congress defeated minimum wage legislation. "All the Democrats voted for the [minimum] wage boost. All the negative votes were cast by Republicans. Four Republicans voted for it. Three of the four are running for reelection," she wrote.
Congressmen make $162,100 a year. The minimum wage increase proposal was $6.52, or $13,000 per year. The last increase in the minimum wage was in 1997. Since 1997, Senators have voted themselves raises totaling $28,000 a year. Apparently, raising the minimum wage $1.10 an hour, or $2288 a year, will cripple the economy.
Before we get too chummy with the Democrats, remember it was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) who blackmailed Bush the Pater into raising taxes. He told Bush that he would not pass a budget unless tax increases were included. Bush caved. Then Byrd exulted that the Rich were going to finally pay their fair share! I was making $25,000 a year, and my taxes went up. That's when I realized two things: 1) in order for more tax dollars to go into the government, the middle class has to pay more. The Rich can hire accountants to avoid taxes. The Poor are protected. Therefore: 2) To a Democrat, anyone making more than minimum wage (and not serving in Congress) is a member of The Rich. These lessons were retaught when Clinton and his Democratic Congress passed the largest peacetime tax increase in history (The one that was applauded on the floor of the House. My mouth dropped open when I saw that.), and the repeated that the rich were finallyly paying their share! My taxes went up again.
So here's how I see the difference between the two political parties: Republicans want more of my money to go to companies; Democrats want more of my money to go to the Government.
Let's not get started on Pork Barrel spending.