Interesting start of the week on Monday, Jan. 30th when in the afternoon someone dropped off a tool bag with me that didn’t have any tools in it but did contain a couple of guns. The person found the bag at milepost 66.5 in southbound 101 by the guardrail past Steel Lane near the church. Found out a bit later that evidently a CHP officer and a Fish & Wildlife cop were looking for it also. I opened the bag but didn’t handle the guns. One was a Ruger .22 magnum revolver, the other was an extremely short, sawed-off 12 gauge, it looked like a Savage. There were also several rounds of ammo in the bag.
Just as I was getting ready to call MCSO, I received a call from Fire Chief Matt Matheson who said CHP and F&W were at the fire station and wanted to know if I had a bag with guns in it. Word travels quickly in a small town, don’t you know. So I took the gun bag to them and handed it over.
This episode reminded me of my union days when you never quite knew what to expect to find when you opened a bag. I bet there’s probably a pretty interesting story behind this particular bag too.
And You Thought Political Reform Was A New Idea…
OK, here’s your civics quiz for the week. Who said the following?
“It is no limitation upon property rights or freedom of contract to require that when men receive from government the privilege of doing business under corporate form … they shall do so upon absolutely truthful representations … Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions … In the interests of the public, the government should have the right to inspect and examine the workings of the great corporations … The nation should … also assume power of supervision and regulation over all corporations doing interstate business.”
Still stumped? Well, the same person said this:
“The great corporations which we have grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts are the creatures of the State, and the State not only has the right to control them, but it is duty bound to control them whenever need of such control is shown …”
All right, while you are thinking about whom may have uttered the foregoing, who said this?
“…Our government, national and state, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics. That is one of our tasks today … The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being. There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.”
President Theodore Roosevelt made all of those discerning remarks 100 years ago when he was battling the big corporations (“trusts), which were attempting to gain monopolistic control over various sectors of our economy. Folks back then called it “trust busting” when Roosevelt used the Sherman Act to break up the illegal monopolies.
If ol’ Teddy were in the White House today, what do you think he’d do about all of the unchecked mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations occurring in our country in the name of the global market and so-called free trade? What do you think he would think about the never before seen concentration of wealth in the hands of less than one-percent of the population. Or how about California oil companies gouging the public with through-the-roof gasoline prices?
Isn’t it amazing, just a hundred years ago we had people in public office who understood how government should work. TR was a Republican, his cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who entered the White House 25 years later, was a Democrat. They both set this country back on course in perilous economic times. It can be argued that Teddy and FDR saved capitalism from self-destruction. The former broke up the monopolies that were strangling the country’s life breath; the latter glued back together the shattered pieces of a country depressed in spirit and economy, and later would lead the nation to victory in a world war.
It kind of makes you both sad and angry that politics are now so broke. Maybe what is needed today is not a reform of government. Maybe all we need to do is to return to a government that was reformed a long time ago.
Oil refiners reveal windfall profits for 2022
Here’s the latest on gas-gouging oil refiners:
Marathon Petroleum made 75 cents in profit per gallon off West Coast drivers in 2022, virtually doubling what it made the year before, strengthening the case for the California legislature to enact a windfall profits penalty. Meanwhile Phillips 66 reported fourth quarter West Coast results indicating a moderating influence simply from the threat of a windfall profits cap. Four out of the five big California refiners have now reported profits of $72.5 billion for the year. (Chevron, Marathon, Valero, and Phillips 66.)
The legislature is considering legislation to establish a windfall profits cap on how much oil refiners can make in profit per gallon of gasoline. Consumer Watchdog has suggested penalties kick in after 50 cents per gallon. If the legislation was in force, Marathon would be on the hook for a rebate to consumers for $735 million for the year if the cap was set at 50 cents per gallon. Phillips 66 would owe $246.7 million rebate to consumers for its profiteering in previous quarters. The total owed by four of California’s five refiners would be over $3.3 billion. Historically, over the last 20 years, California refiners have made an average profit of 32 cents per gallon and of gas have only exceeded the 50-cent mark three times Chevron.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
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