Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Senate's War For Oil Profits

So, you had to work an extra day's overtime last weekend? Well, even though you didn't get to relax with your family, and you didn't even get paid time-and-a-half for your extra effort -- just straight time, one extra day's pay.

But wait! The U.S. Senate has just hauled your rear end into their "court". Seems that they think you're just as bad as Big Oil.

That's right. You got an extra day's pay for an extra eight hour shift. That's 20% extra pay for the week. A windfall profit! They call you an Evil Capitalist.

You argue that you're different from Big Oil. You claim that your boss forced you to work that weekend.

So what? That committee of Senators points out that your profits for the week are 20% higher than your profits for the previous week. Just like Big Oil this year versus last year. It's a windfall.

But, you argue that your pay was the same per hour -- it was just the extra time you had to spend that was different. It wasn't a "windfall".

The committee is not amused. They point out that Big Oil's pay was the same per cost, too -- it was just the extra costs they had to spend that was different. To remain in business, they were forced (by some Arabs) to pay much more for the oil they refined into gasoline. Their costs went way up, but they still only charged 9% over the costs -- the same $1.09 for every $1 they spent buying and refining the oil. That was the same 9% profit margin over costs that they made last year, just like you got the same pay rate as the previous week. But because they had to spend 20% more on buying and refining, just like you spent 20% more effort on that weekend, they got 20% more profit just like you got your 20% extra profit.

But, you plead, you didn't know that working longer hours, expending more effort, was a bad thing. You didn't know it created a "windfall profit". Oddly, this changes their minds and, because this is your first time before the committee, they let you off with a warning not to let it happen again.

You quickly thank them and head out of the room muttering that, now, you'll have to change jobs because you know your boss will be demanding that you work on the upcoming holiday, and you'll even get time-and-a-half. If that happens the committee will likely send you to jail.
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As you leave the Senate committee room, the next guy in line quietly agrees with you. He's from Big Oil, and he's going to get out of the gasoline business, too, before they send *him* to jail for working too hard. (H/t Don)

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