Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fossil Fuels, Big Oil, Jobs, ...

Recently there was an interesting article on Grist titled Fossil-fuel subsidies are the real job killers. It raises so many questions I do not know where to start!

Let us start with subsidies. I do not know how many times I have heard about renewable energy: "But they would not exist with subsidies." What the people who say this do not realize is the amount of subsidies that the fossil fuel (especially oil and coal) industry get. For the US oil companies get US$12 billion per year in subsidies (compared to US$2 billion for renewables). Many other countries either directly or indirectly subsidize the industry.

And these companies are BIG. ExxonMobil is the largest company in the world. The four largest oil companies make a total of 546 billion US dollars in profits. Only about twenty countries have a GDP higher than this. And ExxonMobil pays no corporate tax at all (despite a nominal rate of 24%), do to large loopholes in the tax legislation.

The main thrust of the argument in the Grist article is that despite the large profits, the Big Oil companies actually reduced the number of people they employed.

I have always been skeptical of the idea that economic growth is how you increase the number of jobs -- just because a company increases its income does not automatically increase the number of jobs. In fact, the biggest expense for most companies is personnel. (And do not believe the lie that companies care about their workers)

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