‘Tax breaks for oil companies?’ Don’t accept the phrase at face value

Jim Spence

Jim Spence

Wind and solar companies, the favorites of fanatics, have always been huge net “takers” from taxpayers. And the supposedly satanic oil companies? They have always been huge net “givers.”

A catchy phrase tossed around frequently in today’s pop culture is, “tax breaks for oil companies.” Instead of merely accepting the full implications of this phrase at face value, the realities of the contributions to government and society by oil companies should be fully understood.

There are many false notions about the companies that produce essential products we require for travel, warmth, nutrition, and the manufacture of everything from appliances and computers to smart phones. Millions of uninformed people draw the incorrect conclusion that oil companies are somehow “on the take.”

For decades, our federal tax codes have been written in a way that narrows the definitions of various costs unique to the oil and gas industry. While the rules in the tax codes governing the timing of realizing costs like depreciation and depletion are occasionally accelerated or decelerated, these items should never viewed as “tax breaks.” They are schedules that apply to real business costs.

The oxymoronic term “tax expenditure” has also become a phrase useful for manipulating the uninformed. Often the use of this term is based on the bogus premise that the government has unlimited discretion over the process of accepting or rejecting various business costs.

The religion of man-made climate change

With these completely false assumptions firmly in place, when legitimate costs are properly accounted for as expenses by oil companies, preachers in the man-made climate change religion’s hierarchy feel free to apply the false but politically effective labels, “tax breaks” and “subsidies,” to oil companies. They do so to encourage their congregations to accept as a matter of faith that a taxpayer giveaway is taking place.


For a couple of decades the new-age religion of man-made climate change has been the fastest growing faith on earth. Unfortunately for America, religious fanaticism originating in this faith’s churches is the primary impediment to intelligent national energy policy. Ironically, at stake are massive government subsidies in the form of grants to these new-age churches.

The annual availability of billions for man-made climate change studies has spawned devoted government grant-dependent church hierarchies in all 50 states. The preachers in these pulpits are politically adroit. While simultaneously collecting cash from governments, this clever clergy refers to legitimate cost-allocation provisions in the federal tax code as tax breaks for oil companies. Their devoted congregations are indifferent to oil business costs or basic accounting.

Having religiously attended publicly funded man-made climate change bible schools, they have been systematically conditioned to become true believers in the satanic nature of oil companies. The human history of extremists in religions repeats itself. All heretics are referred to as “deniers” and politically persecuted.

‘Takers’ versus ‘givers’

Strangely enough, preachers and members of these new-age congregations do not seem to have the personal discipline to refrain from the acts of using fossil-fuel based products. Surely they must suffer from guilt, remorse and self-loathing each day as they take actions to stay warm, eat, travel and use their smart phones. Their repeated succumbing to temptation is reminiscent of Joan Jett’s classic rock song, “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” Step aside, Jimmy Swaggart.

Suddenly the religion of man-made climate change is under fire. Canada just rejected their favorite canonized scripture, the ill-conceived Kyoto Treaty. A Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Dr. Ivar Giaever, recently left the church, blaming anti-science fanatics. And despite the coddling and subsidizing of politically-connected wind and solar businesses, the number of bankruptcies and related job losses is also a threat to the offering plates.

Add to this the recent data manipulation scandals of Climate-gate, and suddenly there has been a marked resurgence of agnosticism. It seems the potential for growth in future devotions to man-made climate change bible study classes is suddenly less assured.

There is an “inconvenient truth.” It is inconvenient that the tax revenue contribution math is so very simple. Wind and solar companies, the favorites of church fanatics, have always been huge net “takers” from taxpayers. And the supposedly satanic oil companies? They have always been huge net “givers.”

Spence is co-host of the statewide radio program News New Mexico.

13 thoughts on “‘Tax breaks for oil companies?’ Don’t accept the phrase at face value

  1. Hemmingway and EW don’t you have a concern that use of wind power will lead to viscus drag and thus global wobbling?   Got ja…Just Kidding…In all seriousness, we need a reasonalbe approach of “all of the above” for our energy solutions..including……NUCLEAR…yep I said it.   The more energy independent we become the less dependance on middle east interests that are unfriendly to USA and other western economic interests…

  2. Really – Mr. Spence sounds like a preacher for the American Petroleum Institute with his sermon on the Institute’s  new 2012 political campaign of  “Vote 4 Energy.”  Does the US taxpayer have to give gas and oil companies $41 billion a year? It is absolutely ludicrous that any of our tax dollars should support such an established and profitable industry. Mr. Spence’s commentary misses the mark. It is simply an uninformed diatribe in favor of the oil and gas industry – Amen!
    Here is a video on the American Petroleum Institute’s 2012 political campaign – enjoy Reverend Spence!

  3. Well said Mr. Spence, many good points.  As for the alleged “tax breaks”, this article is informative:
    And of course very few people “deny” climate change, which is a fact of nature and always has been, what they question, and with firm scientific reasons, is that man’s CO2 is the primary driver of same.  And many volumes have been written and published on all of that, and of course many professional scientific organizations have come down on both sides of the issue, as have many prominent and distinguished scientists. One recent professional organization’s position statement is here:

  4. Not to sound like a “conspiracy theorist”, but seeing back-to-back cheerleaders for the oil and gas industry on Haussamen’s site gives me the idea that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these opinion pieces leading up to the election.  Maybe they are helping Steve Pearce in his re-election bid or maybe they are trying to influence the national election. Molitor is a lobbyist, right?, for the fossil energy sector and Spence leads off with calling names – “fanatics” – of supporters of alternative energy sources. How sad, that a person writing an opinion piece has to resort to name-calling. To me, name-calling ALWAYS shows a lack of logic and facts to back up their opinion.

    I grew up in the oil patch of Oklahoma and I know first-hand how Republican that industry always has been. I was told in 1980 by a supervisor where I worked, that I “owed” the company I worked for, to vote for Ron Reagan. The other side of oil and gas companies that I see is their absolute disregard for research into alternative energy sources. In fact, I wrote one of the biggies in the 1990s to ask why they did not use some of their huge profits to form a company division for research into alternative energy, a division that could be profitable for them in the future. No, I did not receive a reply. They are, as an industry, focused only on extraction, not innovation. Subsidies for the fossil fuels corporations have been in place for years, Mr. Spence. 

  5. Gee, when you start an article with the phrase “Wind and solar companies, the favorites of fanatics,”  whi should I bother to read further?  Move along folks, nothing fair and balanced here.
    Ellen Wedum (formerly wedum59)

  6. Many of us do believe in climate change.  Some of us don’t buy into the fact that much of it has to do with man made influences.  Take migration patterns of various tribal groups in and out of various areas in NM over the last several thousand years.  Major changes in the climate occured causing dramatic in and out migration.  Ask a qualified Archeologist to give you that analysis. Given the small population base of the human species at that time, something other than man made climate influences cause this change.  I am sure that man has some change on climate. But there are so many other possible influences and outcomes. 

  7. It is important to note that in all likelyhood, gas prices are about to soar as oil companies have a republican running for President this year and to win the economy must be sour. And we all know, the best way to weaken the working people of this Nation and the economy is to escalate the required cost of transportation. This cost as we also all know involves every part of our economy. I think the oil companies really don’t need tax breaks when extortion, fraud and price gauging are in their arsenal. I am certain the gas price inflation will lead to excuses…slow production, the winter weather, etc but if they use Iran as an excuse it will just booster my belief that the Arab Nations and our troubles with them make for convenient wars….and excuses.

    Bring our Patriots home NOW!

  8. stever:
    RichardC made a mistake commonly derived of optimism; he assumed that just because his news consumption was varied enough that he’d read many stories debunking the right-wing talking-points on the “Climategate” e-mail that were paid no more than lipservice by mainstream media sources and went completely ignored by conservative media that the same was true of others.  In reality, what the e-mails actually did wasn’t to suggest manipulating data to reach a specific conclusion, but instead suggest simplifying presentation of the results so that anti-science climate-change deniers would find it harder to indulge in their usual habit of pretending that science that disagrees with their own pre-conceived narratives must therefore be false, and then insisting that their far more sound-bite friendly position must be correct because it’s easier to understand than the complexities of reality; this plan obviously backfired, and presented the opponents of reality with the additional feature of being able to paint an attempt to explain things in layman’s terms as an attempt to instead hoodwink the public.
    It is telling that Mr. Spence – not being able to understand facts that disagree with what he has already chosen to believe – has simplified his world so as to no longer be able to tell the difference between the result-structured processes of science and the faith-driven processes of religion.  Mr. Spence (and, incidentally, men like Mr. Molitor, who has once again so kindly demonstrated his absolutist-borne ignorance for us again today) suffers from a regrettably common malady in modern politics; they have rendered themselves incapable of viewing the nuances of the world, and have projected that trait onto everyone else.  Since they choose which facts to believe on whether those facts fit what they want to believe – rather than the converse – than they are unable to understand the thought processes of anyone who tries to observe the world in what a reasonable person would consider the logical direction.  Mr. Spence assumes -for some bizarre reason – that people he doesn’t have any understanding of must have motives that he does understand (i.e. money and faith), while Mr. Molitor assumes that, as he is in favor of any and all actions that benefit the artificial construct of finance above all other considerations and without scrutiny, anyone who objects to pursuing those same goals in a reasoned, responsible, and transparent manner or who suggests pursuit of other goals as well are instead objecting to pursuit of those goals at all.  Quite frankly, both men are arguing with people who only exist in their own minds.
    The links RichardC should have given you are below, and, unlike the unsubstantiated claims of doctored data that our national media obsessed over for a couple of weeks, they went basically unreported:

    From Penn State: http://www.research.psu.edu/orp/Findings_Mann_Inquiry.pdf
    SIX independent reviews commissioned by the University of East Anglia: http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/independentreviews
    Inspector General of the NOAA: http://www.oig.doc.gov/Pages/Response-to-Sen.-James-Inhofe%27s-Request-to-OIG-to-Examine-Issues-Related-to-Internet-Posting-of-Email-Exchanges-Taken-from-.aspx
    Inspector General of the National Science Foundation: http://www.nsf.gov/oig/search/A09120086.pdf
    EPA: http://epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment/myths-facts.html
    Factcheck.org: http://www.factcheck.org/2009/12/climategate/
    Politifact: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/dec/11/james-inhofe/inhofe-claims-cru-e-mails-debunk-science-behind-cl/
    The Associated Press: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34392959/ns/us_news-environment/

    Incidentally, I find it interesting that, when it comes to debunking science that they don’t like, otherwise rhetorically-obsessive law-and-order conservatives seem to be willing to ignore the fact that these e-mails were obtained illegally in the first place.  Then again, they ignore the crimes of James O’Keefe, too…

  9.   John Huntsman said “This nation is divided because of attitudes like that.” Mr.Spence’s article feeds right in to that ugly, uncompromising attitude. Because someone is concerned about leaving a cleaner planet to their heirs does not make them fanatics. At some point the reasonable, civil adults will come to compromise about what can realistically be done to accommodate both energy exploration and a less destructive industry.  The terms “satanic”, “fanatic”, “heretics”, “deniers” and all the other histronic terms won’t be used. Mr. Spence will not be one of the folks contributing to the progress of the nation on this important issue.

  10. Speaking of “unresearched” where’s the cite on <b>every</b> “independent” investigation? 

  11. Global warming deniers are still playing the “Climategate” canard? When every independent investigation into it has shown that there was no wrongdoing?

    In this piece, Spence cites a physicist who is an “expert” for the Heartland Institute — an oil and gas funded group that denies global warming. 

    Interesting is that Spence fails to cite ANY stats in his hit piece. Here is a fact for you: Exxon Mobil the most profitable corporation in America and yet pays a smaller effective tax rate than the average middle class American. 

    Sad, unresearched post based on name calling from Spence. Why NMPolitics.net would allow an attack piece that is nothing but name calling is beyond me.