November 10, 2005

Oil Company Profits vs. Government Gas Taxes

Today, I was reading a newspaper article concerning the recent Congressional Witch Hunt in the Oil Industry for "absurd profits", which apparently total around $33 billion. As I read, I began to wonder how this compared to government profit on the oil industry via taxation. A brief internet search quickly confirmed my suspicion that US governments actually collect more in taxation than oil companies receive in profits, at least until they have since I was born until perhaps this year:

Tax Foundation

Apparently, while the oil industry is reporting profits of around $33 billion, Federal and State governments are collecting more than that. Last year, oil profits totaled $42.6 billion while government taxes collected $58.4 billion from gas taxes alone. Assuming that the oil companies actually sell more than gasoline (which is quite reasonable since oil is used in the production of tons of products, from kerosene, to motor oil, to plastics), that means that oil company profits from all gasoline and all those other products are less than the governments revenue from taxation on a single product (admittedly, probably the largest by far) of the oil industry. Of course, the number reported as corporate profit is probably far below corporate gross revenue, which most likely far exceeds government income from gas taxes. However, the difference between the gross revenue and profits will be used to pay wages and invest in capital stock.

I couldn't find oil revenue quickly, but I found an article on Exxon that gives a brief example of revenue vs. profit:

Washington Post

Interestingly enough, I have heard it suggested that one possible contributor to the "high" profits of oil companies is the lack of incentive for them to invest. As we learned after Katrina hit, there are not many oil processing plants in the US, largely due to excessive government regulation. The inability to adjust for the shock of the damage of Katrina contributed to a relative shortage of gasoline which increased it's price, following the principles of supply and demand.

However, if oil company profits are increasing by about 75%, it is possible that we oil company profit might exceed government revenue from gas taxes this year. Assuming the 75% increase is recent and generously estimating an actual 50% increase over the year, one could predict that oil profits will be about $63.9 billion this year. In other words, unless government revenue increases by about $6 billion this year (around a 10% increase) oil companies may actually profit more from their endeavors than the government does from taxation of one of their products for the first time in my life. Perhaps thats what really has Sen. Barbara Boxer outraged, a US company profiting more from their own enterprise than the government! What a horrible outrage!

Perhaps instead of excoriating executives and proposing that government tax oil companies more, she should really ask why government needs to make gasoline prices so high...

November 8, 2005

Considering the Future

A reply to Josh's response.

I will agree that simple emphasis is part of our disagreement, but I do not think it can account for it all. We still seem to have a fundamental difference on the proper outlook on a Christian in viewing the present and the future. You assert that:

I am of the opinion that the future stuff is nice, but the things of tomorrow are not things that we are to be worrying about; those things will take care of themselves.


I feel like we turn away from God's grace if we ignore it and its sufficiency in the present. There will be time to appreciate and live in the future things when they come.

While I agree that God has provided the strength and grace we need in the present, I can not accept the proposition, which you present, that we should not pay much attention to the blessings of eternity future. I understand, as you point out, that an otherworldly attitude can be overdone to great loss. As it has been said, some become "so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good". However, we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. When we have both Paul and Christ repeatedly pointed to the future and emphasising a heavenly outlook by calling us to:

1 - Lay up your treasure in heaven - Christ

2 - Run so that ye may receive the prize (at the end of the race, that is, when our life is done) - Paul

3 - 1Th 4:17 - 18 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Here we are specifically commanded to comfort each other with a look to the future by Paul!

4 - Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Christ won our salvation spurred by a future minded outlook. Looking towards the joy of our salvation which was to come, He endured the torment of the crucifiction. Certainly, we would not be wrong to follow His perfect example.

Therefore, I would argue that the future is something we are not just to look forward to, but commanded to keep in mind. Furthermore, it might be considered part of God's present grace to reveal future blessing to us.

Finally, you argue that "the things of tomorrow are not things that we are to be worrying about; those things will take care of themselves", a clear reference to Matt. 6:34:

Mat 6:34 So never worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - ISV

I do not think this verse applies to the present topic for two reasons:

1 - Christ commands us not to worry about tomorrow. He says nothing about anticipating the glorious promises of future blessing. In fact, as I pointed out above, His example is the opposite as He anticipated future joy in enduring the pain of the cross.

2 - I do not think that Christ's use of tomorrow applies to eternity future. Christ is specifically speaking about individual days, and it seems to me, that these days would be restricted to life on earth. Once we reach heaven, I doubt each day will involve much trouble. ;)

Furthermore, it is important, as I am sure you know, not to confuse worry with thinking or planning ahead. While we are commanded to be "wise as serpants", we are also commanded to trust God. Thus, thinking ahead and anxiously agonizing over possible problems are two different things. It is wise to consider the future, but foolish and sinful, exhibiting a lack of faith in God, to anxiously obsess over future problems.

November 3, 2005

Continuing Eternity is not the Present


In response to Josh's response to my last post, he made three comments or questions. My response is as follows:

1 - In your terms, yes. My view of time breaks into three distinct segments:

A - Eternity Past - Before God created the heavens and the Earth and only he existed.
B - History - Creation to the last judgement.
C - Eternity Future - The time after the last judgement in which believers live forever with God.

Thus, the eternity in question here (Eternity Future) begins at a point of time in the future (end of the last judgement) and run forever after.

This follows from the nature of God (eternal, always existing), the temporal nature of creation (began at a point in time, when God began creating), and the nature of our future (neverending), and the ever relatively changing nature of present History and the relative consistency of eternity past and eternity future.

2 - Unfortunately, while I suspect it was not your intention, the overzealous language which you used to describe the present give the impression that the question of good things in the future is irrelevant or in fact, that the future holds nothing. Primarily, this impression stems from your statement here:

The kingdom of God is within me; eternity is here and now. If I miss that--if I miss the present--then I've missed everything. - JDK

The present is important, but it is not eternity and it is not everything. Logically, as the present progresses, one may argue that your statement implies that the future also has good in it, but I think that fails to maintain the distinction between the good of the present and the good of the future and eternity. The good of eternity future is different than the good of the present.

3 - Of course God's grace is sufficient. He told Paul so concerning his thorn in the flesh and promises that we will not be tempted beyond that which we are able to bear.

2Co 12:8-9a For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee...

1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

But grace is not all we are promised. Having his grace and love in the present is not having everything we are promised in eternity, therefore eternity is not the present and should not be confused with it.

Twinkie Geek

In response to Twinkie Geek's reply at Live Journal

I believe that if we are made of God, and that if we are surrounded by His creations (and subsequently surrounded by Him, being that the creations would be imbued with His spirit/a part of Him), then we are able to find love within these creations on this Earth and find evidence of God in them (Note: I am judging His creations based on an Emersonian viewpoint; man's spirit is good, but the addition of "reason" obliges him with the ability of corruption and man-made things that are created with the impurities of competition [and most of their] ambitions(which is why I believe this whole "race" idea is bad)).

Are you suggested that God is in everything? I am not familiar with Emerson, but it seems to me that if we accept the proposition that God is in everything, then He is not perfectly good. Rather, he is either evil or neutral, in which case, morality is either arbitrary or irrelevant.

Why do you say that "reason" makes man corruptible? What is it about rationality that causes corruption? Why does irrationality not cause corruption? It seems to me that what really gives man the power to do evil is not reason, but simple freewill. We can choose to do evil and good, and often, it is selfishness or pride that leads to sin, not necessarily reason.

I am also confused by your reference to the "race" idea. To what are you referring? The idea of racial distinction between people of different skin colors or geographical origin? If so, how does that relate to the Emersonian view that man is basically good?

Scripturally, my view is the converse of yours in two ways:

1 - Man and God's creation is distinct from God. He is neither contained by His Creation, existing within the essence of His creation, or the essential existence of His creation. However, I do agree that having created the universe, the universe contains evidence of God's existence. This follows from passages such as the following:

1Jo 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Gen 3:17-19 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

A - If God has no darkness in Him, He does not seem that He could be part of this dark world.
B - When God punished Adam, He cursed the "ground" which later passage reveal includes the whole creation. It makes little sense for God to curse Himself.

2 - Man is not essentially good. Rather, man is essentially sinful:

Rom 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

In otherwords, man is inherently corrupt. No man has lived a perfect life and our nature is not to seek good, that is, God, but rather evil.

Therefore, since one has the ability to become connected with one's surroundings (God), one should be able to expect such a connection and feeling when "their time comes."

What do you mean to "[connect] with one's surroundings" and "their time"?

Rom 8:17-18 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

I think it is key to acknowledge the careful word usage and sentence structure here. The value (the amount of goodness, I believe, in this case) of the sufferings is outweighed by the glory (read: essentially God's presence, by Latin terms) that will be revealed WITHIN OURSELVES to us by God. IOW, the goodness (presence of God) that we see in sufferings is less than the presence of God that is actually there, *because* it is within each of us (the sufferers as well as the watchers).

I do not follow your inference that glory is God's presence. According to Strong's, the word here is:

G1391 δόξα
doxa (dox'-ah)
From the base of G1380; glory (as very apparent), in a wide application (literally or figuratively, objectively or subjectively): - dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship.

Furthermore, the New Testament is written primarily in Greek, not Latin (although early on it was translated into the Latin Vulgate).

You seem to be suggesting that the proper interpretation is as follows:

The suffering (perception of a lack of goodness) of the present is not actual, but perceptual. We perceive certain events as suffering because we fail to see God in them. Later, the God that He was in those involved in the event.

There are several problems with this interpretation.

1 - Paul does not seek to explain how God is can be seen in suffering to avoid the perceptual disjunct with reality.
2 - He delineates the suffering and the glory with clearly temporal terms. The suffering is "present" and the glory is future ("shall be revealed").
3 - Context presents major problems for this interpretation as well. In the next few verses, Paul further explains his meaning:

Rom 8:19 & 22-23 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God...For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Here, Paul explains that the glory is:

A - The manifestation of the sons of God.
B - The redemption of our bodies.

Furthermore, this glory is not something that presently exists, but will come in the future. It is something we wait for and indeed groan for.

As a side not, this passage further explains the difference in the blessings and joys of the present and the future. They are not the same, as Josh's original post seemed to imply.

Please comment here.