Get ready to pay more at the pump
Donald Trump reminds me of King Midas. Where everything King Midas touched turned to gold, however, everything Trump touches turns to crap.
The latest example of this comes in the form of a vote by OPEC to reduce oil production. Remembering how supply and demand works from your freshman economics class, this reduction in capacity is designed to increase global prices and thus shift more money from our pockets to those of the oil producing nations.
What might be surprising to some is that the larges oil producing nation in the world — by a pretty hefty margin — is the United States, producing 15.6 million barrels per day. Saudia Arabia and Russia follow with 12 and 11 million barrels per day respectively. Canada, China, Iran, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates (home to Dubai), Brazil and Kuwait round out the top ten, with Kuwait producing 2.8 million barrels per day while Canada, China and Iran each produce just under five.
Ironically, despite our success as a producer, we still are the second largest importer of oil, just behind China.
So an argument might be made that the United States will benefit from an increase in oil prices just as will Saudi Arabia and Russia, the two countries leading the charge in this effort. However, most Americans don’t own a significant amount of stock in ExxonMobil, Halliburton or other oil-related companies. As a result, while just about everyone pays for gas, only the very wealthy stockholders of these companies will benefit from an oil price increase. This group of stockholders, you may recall, has been doing very well lately thanks to the big corporate tax cut Trump and the Republicans championed. As a result, just as all of us will be paying for the corporate tax cut in the form of our massive — and increasing — national debt, thus once again transferring the wealth of the majority to the few, so too will any oil price increase.
Anyway, Trump had defended himself during the campaign, arguing that his relationship with Vladimir Putin could actually be something that benefits America. Similarly, he has opposed sanctions against Saudi Arabia in response to the killing of American resident and reporter Jamal Khashoggi on the grounds that the Saudis buy a lot of weapons from the U.S. and they supply us with a lot of oil. Again, these are the two countries leading the charge to increase our gas prices.
Just days ago, Trump had tweeted thanks to Saudi Arabia for the low oil prices we have been enjoying of late. Days later, they vote to increase our oil prices. Thus as I said about everything that Trump touches.
It’s worth noting that Saudi Arabia and Russia are global bad actors. Russia continues to illegally occupy parts of Ukraine, and prop up the regime of the murderous Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Saudi Arabia, for its part, was the source of most of the 9–11 hijackers, and it is promoting the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis with its unnecessary intervention in Yemen. But yet Trump stands by them while imposing tariffs on Europe and Canada.
Considering this situation, one can’t help but wonder why Trump has adopted this policy. It turns out that Trump was negotiating to build a development in Russia and he appears to owe Russians substantial amounts of money. Saudi Arabia and Trump have admitted to deep and long-standing business relationships. There do not appear to be such business relationships with Canada or Europe.
But this is the problem with conflicts of interest and why we generally require top elected officials to divest themselves of their businesses. Jimmy Carter, upon his election to the Presidency, even put his peanut farm into a blind trust to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. The result is that when he left the White House, he was flat broke.
But Trump took no such steps, and it is clear that he is directly involved in and benefiting from his businesses. Even if Trump is acting in the best interests of our country as he claims, we can never be certain. His business relationships with Russia and Saudi Arabia present clear conflicts of interest. And those are only the ones we know about. Until we see his still-unreleased tax returns, we will never know the full extent of his conflicts.
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