OPEC is Evil and Don’t You Forget It
OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is having another one of its meetings on October 24. I hope that you will ignore what the OPEC PR machine is saying and will be saying about the purpose of the meeting. Instead, please understand that the members of OPEC have one unstated agenda item that supersedes all others: Consolidate economic and political power at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.
Who is OPEC?
The founding members of OPEC are Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Quatar, Indonesia, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, and Angola have since signed on. My favorites are Iran, Venezuela, and Libya because the leaders of those countries are so fond of us. Fat boy Hugo Chavez is particularly striking in his red shirt when he stands in front of the UN General Assembly in New York, insulting our President.
What is OPEC’s Mission?
I have quoted below what OPEC states as its mission on its website. For your benefit, I have added my expert translation in brackets.
OPEC’s mission is to coordinate [conspire] and unify [fix] the petroleum policies [crude oil prices] of Member Countries [non-democratic fiefdoms] and ensure the stabilization of oil markets [make everyone obey us] in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply [by controlling supply] of petroleum to consumers [stupid capitalists and infidels], a steady income to producers [constant flow of billions to support our ostentatious lifestyles] and a fair return on capital to those investing in the petroleum industry [if you’re lucky we won’t nationalize your Yankee oil infrastructure in our countries].
I thnk my translation is much more accurate and direct, don’t you?
Is OPEC Engaged in Lawful Behavior?
Are you kidding? Let’s start with the plain text of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which has been used over the years to bust many U.S. companies over the head and put their executives in jail:
Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.
The Act also provides:
Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony
U.S. anti-trust conspirators have at least made an effort to hide their price-fixing activities. OPEC doesn’t care. They publish everything they do on their website and invite the press to meetings that would get U.S. citizens arrested on the spot.
Now maybe you are wondering, why don’t we use the Sherman Act to bust OPEC up? That’s a very good question. It’s been tried several times over the years. Unfortunately, the U.S. courts have ruled that OPEC had sovereign immunity and/or was not subject to liability because the illegal acts were undertaken by state actors. Without delving into the legal intricacies of these defenses, they worked.
However, these defenses are subject to being removed simply by amending the Sherman Act. In fact, that’s what Congress has attempted to do, most recently in May 2008. The bill was humorously called the NOPEC Act (No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2007). It never made it to the President. Why? Because he promised to veto it. In fact, President Bush has promised to veto any law that threatened OPEC. Republicans backed him up. Bunch of wusses.
Now I will concede that an enforcement action against OPEC countries is unlikely to do much for oil prices. Why? Because OPEC members will either retaliate economically or simply conspire off the record to continue to do what they have been doing on the record. Nevertheless, I would really enjoy a nice anti-trust lawsuit against the Venezuelan oil company, starting with all of the Citgo stations it owns in the U.S. In fact, if we could use such a lawsuit to de-power that buffoon Hugo Chavez, I wouldn’t mind paying a little more for my gasoline.
Anyway, please join Mr. ToughMoneyLove in maintaining a suitable level of animosity against OPEC as its members go through the motions of further tightening the screws down against our economy. And please don’t purchase Citgo gasoline.