While many impoverished American families are shivering in the winter cold for lack of money to pay the oil baron their exorbitant price for home heating oil, ex-oil man, George W. Bush sleeps in a warm White House and relishes his defeat of the Congressional attempt to get rid of $15 billion in unconscionable tax breaks given those same profit-glutted oil companies like ExxonMobil when crude oil was half the price it is today.This is the same George W. Bush who, calling himself a “compassionate conservative” in October 2000 made this promise to the American people: “First and foremost, we’ve got to make sure we fully fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is a way to help low-income folks, particularly here in the East, pay for their high, high fuel bills.”

So what did this serial promise-breaker propose this year? Mr. Bush wanted to cut the fuel aid program by $379 million! This entire assistance program is funded at about half of the $5 billion that state governors and lawmakers believe is essential to meet the needs of the six million people eligible to apply for such help this year.

Everyone in Washington knows that the big, coddled, subsidized oil industry has many politicians over a barrel. When it comes to oily Bush and Cheney though, the global melting industry has these two indentured servants marinated in oil.

Look at what ending regulation of natural gas prices has produced: prices up 50 percent since last year. Home heating oil prices are up 30 percent. Bush’s own Energy Department estimates the rise of heating oil costs will impose an average increase of $375 for customers this winter. No way that supply and demand explains this gouge.

If a home dweller is too poor to order more than 100 gallons at a time, they get smacked with an extra surcharge of 60 to 70 cents per gallon for delivery.

Some states set aside some money. New York State will spend $25 million. Joe Kennedy and Citgo sell discounted heating oil, but that Venezuelan program is undergoing a reduction.

Efforts in Congress to impose a windfall-profits tax on the King Kong, record-profit-setting oil companies got nowhere.

Two years ago, efforts by Senator Charles Grassley (Rep. Iowa), then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, begging the major oil giants to slice off a tiny portion of their profits for charitable contributions toward energy assistance for the poor did not receive even the courtesy of a response.

I’ve asked members of Congress, including the Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus in the House of Representatives to take up this cause vigorously and prominently on behalf of their constituents back home. Have you heard any high-visibility demand from these veteran lawmakers? I haven’t.

Even Senator Grassley seems to have despaired.

Please note that ExxonMobil alone made $36 billion in profits last year. That’s one company profiting over seven times the amount of dollars needed for energy assistance. Greed, arrogance, callousness and far too much unaccountable power exists in Big Oil and in its White House.

Enforcing the antitrust laws and prohibiting organized speculators at the Mercantile Exchange from determining the price of an essential product like petroleum will bring prices down. But there is no action in the White House. No demand from the Congress.

Veteran free lance reporter, Lance Tapley has been reporting for The Portland Phoenix newspaper on the price bilking of recipients of energy assistance programs. For thirty years, he writes, the oil dealers have been charging the Maine state housing authority, which administers the LIHEAP program, higher prices than they set for their payment-plan customers, despite the large bulk purchasing by this housing authority.

Tapley severely criticizes the failure of Governor John Baldacci for not standing up for poor Maine people at the same time he promotes large subsidies for business and sells off state-owned assets at bargain-basement prices to corporations.

Mr. Tapley writes: “The heating oil crisis could be a big test in 2008 for Baldacci and the State House Democrats. The picture will not be pretty if elderly poor people freeze in their trailers while rich Republicans and professional-class Democrats snuggle up in their McMansions or old Colonials…but, with our Democrats, who needs Republicans?” (Contact Lance Tapley at ltapley@adelphia.net)

Some day, the tens of millions of poor people in America, most of them working poor, will be heard from. Until now, they have been exhausted, powerless, despairing, fearful and grasping for whatever crumbs fall off the table. History teaches us that such a subdued human condition does not continue indefinitely.

Call the White House switchboard (202-456-1414) and your member of Congress (Senate Information: 202-224-3121; House Information: 202-225-3121). Tell them not all these low-income Americans have been sent to oil rich Iraq. Many are here mourning their losses of and injuries to loved ones while they shiver in the cold.

Tell them to make those big oil CEOs making as much as $50,000 an hour to ante up.


  • I realize that you have stuck your neck out over the years to give America a hand up! Your efforts brought enlightenment to the American people on many important issues, products, etc! The urgency of your earlier messages was sidetracked by ignorance, media spin & American complacency! But in today’s America consciousness or the unconscious state, which has been the norm in the people of America, is awakening, becoming wide eyed and bushy tailed, to the in your face Corporate abuse realities hitting us upside our American heads! The abuse of power, no doubt, is out of control! Mr. Nader, I wish you were running for President today.

    That said, who do you believe, of the candidates running, have the courage, integrity & desire to get it right?

  • Ralph, it’s really nice to hear from you. I’m glad we still have you in our corner, in spite of how we’ve allowed the DMC to treat you. As if YOU were the threat to the people! The Dems have given the evil corporate dictatorship everything they’ve asked for, and are scared to stand up even to the Xtian Right when they feel we non-Xtians are discriminating against them. Even Earl Blumen-freakin’-auer was too coward to stand up to that one. Non-Xtian Representatives were scared to vote against it! Sorry, off-subject.

    You are one of my few heroes. If you were a bigger threat to the evil corporate dictatorship, if people weren’t too afraid to listen to you and get rid of the two-party choke-hold on our government, you would probably get assassinated too.

    Danny Pearl got too close to the funding of terrorism (hmm, let’s see… US) so they took him out; Benazir Bhutto was calling for the an investigation into the funding of terrorism before and after a previous attempt on her life where 153 or 158 innocents were killed (guess our corporate media missed that one), and mentioned the name of the man who killed Osama bin Laden (so clearly he isn’t behind this), and she’s dead. JFK, MLK Jr… anyone who is a serious threat to the corporate (including big oil) dictatorship gets killed. Oil companies kill or fund the killing of hundreds, even thousands of people for standing up against them to protect their land and environment. Al Gore made lots of money on Occidental Oil, a corporation that threatened an entire indigenous civilsation, which promised to commit mass suicide if Occidental drilled in their land (rainforest, in Columbia). Almost everyone in Congress is oily, and the few who aren’t… not much of an obstacle to big oil.

    Not enough of the people are brave enough to stand up with people like you against those who control their lives in every way possible: what to buy, how to look, how much to buy, where to buy it, from whom to buy it, how to be as irresponsible as possible with what we have, what to drive, how much to drive it, what to power it with… True lovers of peace, people who speak up and aren’t willing to kill to get their point across, are the exception, not the rule. Until the people pull their heads out of the sand and say “no” we will only see it get worse.

    If the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds. —Nichiren Daishonin (1222–1282)

    Our only hope is to become truly happy—then they will have no power over us. True happiness doesn’t fade in the face of obstacles or walls, discrimination, persecution… the feeling you get with that shiny new necklace or car is fleeting—it’s called “rapture.” Someone takes your car away, you’re in hell. True happiness is better than the gratitude you feel when your house burned down and you don’t care because your whole family (including animals) made it out safe and sound.

    I love you, Ralph. You will always have my support.

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