Notice the caveat-KNOWN villains of the year. The worse villainy, after all, is often perpetrated in the shadows, as all too often it could never flourish in light. It could well be though that the greatest of these potential villains may be in the process of being brought forward. They are those buiness interests, those real estate developers, and their allies in Louisiana State and Local government, to say nothing of the Federal Government enablers, who seem to be in the process of holding out on reconstruction projects in New Orleans-especially in the nearly all black, poverty ridden Ninth Ward-in the hopes that these properties can be condemned and confiscated, and turned into whatever the developers have in mind, which will of course be for their own profit. All of which will naturally leave the legitimate citizens of these areas homeless and totally bereft of properties. In fact, they have been told they have a year to repair their properties, and rebuild. One look at the area, even over televisions or through still pictures, will tell you immediately how daunting, how impossible, such a task will be. So, with all this in mind, we keep these folks in reserve, while we from here on out focus our attention, while not yet leaving New Orleans, yet expand to the surrounding Gulf area.
And the winner of this well deserved though understandably uncoveted award is-the American Oil Companies. As a group, these animals qualify as bottom feeders of the worse variety. Again, the most desructive vilainy is often perpetrated in the dark. So, when the oil companies tell you that it is a matter ofthe markets deciding the price of oil, and that the supply, due to the disruptions, just doesn't meet the demand, and that this is due also to manipulations of OPEC in combination with ever increasing needs from such countries as India and China, and that the lack of oil refineries is yet another culprit, all thi is very true.
Unfortunatley, the truth is often used to disguise a lie, and this case is a blatant example of that. In an effort to cut costs and increase profits, it was decided long ago to limit refining capacity, one of the main reasons there have been no new refineries buildt since the 1970's. Also, fuel efficiency standards, which could be and should be higher, have been resisted for years, also having an indirect impact on limitations of suppies.
The end result-more profits. Plus less expenses, which lead to even more profits. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to a lesser extent Wilma, then, weren't disasters for the oil companies. They were windfalls. They were blessings in disquise. And they took advantage of these disasters in such a way that their profits were higher, much higher, than in previous years. They could have taken appreciably less profits by maintaining their prices at reasonably higher levels than before the disaster (to make up for the lack of supply and to ensure that it didn't all too quickly run out in affected areas) and still made higher profits than in previous years.
Their excuse? They had to satisfy the demands of their investors, first and foremost. Plus, these increased profits were needed for investments in future refining capabilities, and further exploration and development. The usual goobledygook, meaning nothing, and probably soon to be forgotten.
They aren't the only problem of course, there has been political reasons for the lack of refining capacity and decrease in exploration and development, some valid, some not. And of course there are the manipulations by OPEC. But for the most part, the oil companies have been way too eager to maintain inordinatley high profits by whatever means necessary and to crush out any competition in the meantime. There are only five major oil companies and they form a kind of cabal. There is no competition to speak of. Just kind of a non-trust trust. An undertanding among friends, more than a healthy competition. Kind of like when the Mafia back in the old days divided up territory and tried to keep things copecetic. Only in this case, these guys are all friends and neighbors, so to speak, in an exclusive neighborhood with tight zoning standards that they control, with the help of government agencies and intimates in that government-Vice President Dick Cheney comes especially to mind.
These are the guys that, to a great extent, have been in control of aiding the Vice President in deiciding on energy policy, for the last five years, in secret, without any scrutiny from the press or any other intersted and concerned citizen or group.
They are more than just vilains. To me, they are evil incarnate. And Bush and Cheney, are no more than their paid stooges.