08 March 2011


Statements such as "our oil" and "we" should increase drilling in the U.S. so that "we" will not be dependent on other countries misses a fundamental point about who "owns" the resources and what happens to them. When oil corporations buy a lease and extract the petroleum, they then sell it on the global market. They have the legal right, and every market inclination, to sell to the highest bidder on the global market, not solely to consumers in the U.S.

"American" oil corporations are not beholden to Americans, any more than GM or any other corporation. There are no laws that stipulate they must sell their products to Americans (there is no "American" market anyway for several commodities--only a global market). They are not even "American" corporations in any but a general sense: global corporations in an era of global capitalism do not (and cannot, if corporate efficiency and profits are primary) have much loyalty to nations and localities, except as their notions of corporate good-citizenship and public relations behoove them. It is their call.

As illustration: When you purchase a fishing license and catch a fish in U.S. territorial waters (antecedent to this point the fish is "owned" by the U.S.), who "owns" the fish (after catching it)? Does the U.S. as a country, or do you? Can you sell it, or do as you want? Of course, you can. The same with petroleum: Drilling in the U.S. does NOT decrease our dependence on other countries (or on the oil corporations). Unless you want petroleum resources nationalized, they "belong" to the U.S. only as long as they are in the ground un-extracted (actually, only before the leases are sold). After extraction, they are not "ours"--they are owned by the oil corporations to sell on the global oil market.

There is a group of politicians who wants Americans to get hot about "our" oil for their own political purposes. When you hear one pontificate in this manner, ask, "Whose oil?"

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