JIM HIGHTOWER: JULY 2, 1996
The debonair Fred Astair once observed, "The hardest job kids
face today is learning good manners without seeing them."
Good manners!? How about basic ethics? What are kids to think
when they're told to "play by the rules," but then they see major
oil companies getting away with cheating American taxpayers and
other school children?
I'm talking about Texaco, Shell, Mobil, Arco, Chevron, Exxon and
others, who just underpaid the government by almost a billion
dollars for oil they've taken from federal lands in California.
The watchdog group called "POGO" -- Project On Government
Oversight -- notes that in the fairy tale world where big oil and
big government dance hand in hand, oil companies themselves are
allowed to set the price on the oil they pump out of our public
lands. And guess what? These oil giants have been setting the
price at about 20 percent lower than market value. According to
an independent audit done for the Department of Interior, ten oil
companies have dodged $846 million in royalties and interest they
owe to us. Of that sum, $165 million was ear-marked for
California public schools -- a school system so strapped that
three of its districts have declared bankruptcy.
What do you think Uncle Sam would do if *you* were a deadbeat tax
cheat? Reach down your throat and *turn* *you* *inside* *out*,
But the Interior Department not only has looked the other way --
letting the ten oil companies make off like bandits -- but it
actually is trying to get President Clinton to approve a special
"statute of limitations" that would prevent future
administrations from even trying to collect the $846 million they
This is Jim Hightower saying, no wonder today's kids roll their
eyes when adults lecture them about being "responsible citizens."
"Sure," they say. "We'll follow the lead of Texaco, Shell,
Mobil, Arco, Chevron, Exxon...."