Thursday, February 23, 2012

What part of "lease" is beyond his comprehension?

Bill O'Reilly, whose show I usually studiously avoid because he and his guests tend to shout and drive up everybody's blood pressure, was what was on, these past two nights.  Under normal circumstances, if there's nothing else on the television (five hundred channels of nothing to watch) while I'm playing online, I can at least ignore the tommyrot being bandied about on his show, or, in a worst-case scenario, I will rise, go forth, and shower.  No such luck, either evening.  I ended up watching (sort of) Bill O, as he made absolutely no sense regarding American oil companies and their (as O'Reilly sees it) moral imperative to sell only to us poor schlubs in the States.

His argument for why they should never never never never never never take a bigger paycheck from China or some other country?  "It's our land, our water they're drilling it out of, so it's our oil, right?"

No, Bill, it's the property of the oil company, who PAID for the right and privilege of gambling their own millions of dollars, equipment, and man-hours to drill, on the off-chance they might get something out of the operation. If you pay for the right to use the land, and the lease says you get mining rights (for whatever substance is your goal in digging), you get to keep what you dig up.  It's not that different from any other lease.  Suppose, someday, I decide to rent a house in the country, with some land around it included in the lease, and, well, what the heck, I might as well plough and plant something out my back door.  I have permission from the landlord to try my hand at farming.  Does this mean that, when my crop comes in next fall, I have to cede all of what I worked for, hand the entire mass over to my landlord?  I beg to differ.  Does it then mean I must first offer my harvest to my landlord, even if others have offered me a much better price for the fruits of my labor?  Not if the lease doesn't explicitly require it, and, even then, I could probably have that clause killed, in the hands of even a mediocre contract lawyer.

The fruits of your labor, so long as you have paid for the rights to labor at that site, are yours -- and yours alone --- to do with as you please.  There isn't even a moral imperative to share it with the landlords.  This holds especially true if, in the case of the oil companies, the landlord is already taxing your company, its income, its employees, its investors, and its product, halfway to the moon and back, so the landlord is turning a healthy profit no matter where you sell it.

If Bill O'Reilly really wants to see the oil companies sell the stuff locally that they drill for and pump into refineries, maybe he should look into making it worth their while.  You know, stop vilifying them for being practical businesses, stop taxing their labors and their products every which way you turn, and, maybe, recognizing that, if we quit kvetching and offer to pay the same rate per barrel as China does, the oil companies'll sell it to us first, because it's cheaper to sell locally, running it down a pipeline, where you don't have to worry about monster overseas shipping costs.  And, maybe the price will come down, too, when they see there's less hassle selling to the landlords than to the other opportunists out there.

No comments: