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Excess profits

June 5, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 23

The message of Michael Heylin's article on the high profits of ExxonMobil and Pfizer (C&EN, Feb. 13, page 76) was that "companies at odds with the public should not be in denial." What he really said was that these companies reaped excess profits; his probable intent was to establish an excess profits tax for them.

We already have a competitive economy in the U.S. If companies believe there are high profits in energy (oil) and in pharmaceuticals, they have every opportunity to engage in these businesses. We already have antitrust laws to protect the public from monopolies that could take unfair advantage of them. At present, there is plenty of competition among energy companies. However, a monopoly exists in the supply of crude oil through the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Since OPEC is an international monopoly, it is not controllable by U.S. antitrust laws, and the United Nations has no equivalent antitrust laws.

It bothers me when I continue to hear socialistic propaganda, such as that published by Heylin. He may mean well, but he can do substantial damage through influencing public opinion. As human beings, we are all anxious to get something for nothing or at least at a lower price. However, history shows time and again that socialism is applicable only to special situations, such as road construction. When expanded beyond its practical capacity to do good, it can be disastrous.

Arthur C. Sucsy
Lubbock, Texas


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