Thursday, May 10, 2007

Socialism for the Rich

In the 1980s I watched Gore Vidal on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Vidal said: "It's very clear what's going on in America. We have socialism for the super-rich and free enterprise for the poor."

That, in a nutshell, is Reaganomics in action. Guarantee the profits of corporations while cutting the tax liability of the wealthy, which is in some voodoo-ish manner is supposed to help the working people and the poor (which are now the working poor), who are now required to carry the highest tax load since the Great Depression.

The latest incident of socialism for the rich is taking place in Wisconisin.

That state's Unfair Sales Act is a law that requires gasoline to be sold at 9.2% above wholesale. I am sure this was presented to the good people of Wisconsin as a way to prevent the oil monopoly from gouging the consumer. But, it is a method for guaranteeing profits, which flies in the face of a free market. Now, the law is being used to tell a gas station owner he cannot sell gas at a discount, even for charity, because the price is below the 9.2% over wholesale threshold.

This is insane! Why would a state have a law that prevents competition and charity? Sure, you want to protect the consumer from being gouged by the monopolies that control the flow of petroleum; but why would you prevent retailers from selling at a discount? This is idiotic!

Below is a reprint of an AP story about a gas station that offered a discount to senior citizens and sports boosters in the community.

Gas station owner told to raise prices
Wed May 9, 6:05 AM ET

A service station that offered discounted gas to senior citizens and people supporting youth sports has been ordered by the state to raise its prices.

Center City BP owner Raj Bhandari has been offering senior citizens a 2 cent per gallon price break and discount cards that let sports boosters pay 3 cents less per gallon.

But the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says those deals violate Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act, which requires stations to sell gas for about 9.2 percent more than the wholesale price.

Bhandari said he received a letter from the state auditor last month saying the state would sue him if he did not raise his prices. The state could penalize him for each discounted gallon he sold, with the fine determined by a judge.

Bhandari, who bought the station a year ago, said he worries customers will think he stopped the discounts because he wants to make more money. About 10 percent of his customers had used the discount cards.

Dale Van Camp said he bought a $50 card to support the local youth hockey program. It would have saved him about $100 per year on gas, he said.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

So, this is what it's come to: we are required to guarantee a certain profit for businesses. Is that a free market? No.

So, when you hear gazillionaires, especially oil men, talk about an open market (people like the Bush family, the Clintons, the Reagans, Wolfowitz, Rubin and all the other neo-cons) while passing protectionist laws, please know that they are lying to you. They are not helping an open market, they are closing the market for their personal benefit and your detriment.

Today, it is OK to give a break to the rich, but not OK to help senior citizens or charity. Go figure!

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