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Carrying Wrenches and Oil Tax Breaks

     Lawrence of Arabia was known was for his exploits on behalf of the British Military, during World War I.  He led desert raids with Arab rebels against Turkish troops, who were fighting against the British. It was basically guerrilla warfare in the desert.

     His exploits against the Turks and his personal account of the battles in “Seven Pillars of Wisdom“,  became the substance of classic literature. There was also a movie made that put his tales of valour on the Big Screen titled “Lawrence of Arabia“.

     During the war, he formed great friendships with some of the Sheiks who had fought with him. After the war, he brought them back to Europe so that they  could show their appreciation, for their support as Allies  in the battles against the Turks.

     The Sheiks had a wonderful time, making appearances before the Joint House of Commons and Parliament; and then Lawrence of Arabia and the Arab Sheiks had an audience with the Queen.

     He then took them to Paris to see the Arch of Triumph, the Louvre, and Napoleon’s tomb. After all these events and on their last night in Europe, Lawrence decided to ask them what had impressed them the most. Plus, he wanted them to tell him, what they wanted to take back to their desert homes, as a gift of appreciation from him.

     Legend has it ( Legend because if you google “Lawrence of Arabia and faucets”, you will see this story many times, without source) that they took him back to their hotel , where they had wrenches already hooked up to their hotel room faucets.  “We need the faucets to take back to our homes,” they explained. ” If we have them, then we will have all the water we want.”

     This past week, Oil executives went before Congress, to explain why their companies need the oil tax breaks. They testified that the current billions in profits were not related to a consideration of the elimination of these tax “incentives”.  Instead, eliminating these tax “incentives” would threaten US that would be moved overseas; that legislation to close the loopholes on these breaks is  “Un-american“.  

     The Chevron CEO told Congress that Oil companies should not be singled out. He explained that “I don’t think Americans want shared sacrifice; they only want shared prosperity”.

     The blogs that I write are usually based on some law or legislation. At least I work it in somewhere, even if I have to go deep into the legal weeds sometimes. That’s why I think that the tax break discussion is relevant to a legal blog.

     When I see the arguments for and against the tax breaks to Big Oil, It seems to be politically divided. It’s not really a division of party as much as a division of which politicians may gain or lose.

     Last week, I listened to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) argue that these tax breaks, amounting to about a 4 Billion dollar loss to the US Treasury, should not be eliminated. His reasoning was that we should not just single out the Oil business, just because of their profits.   When I heard some of the quotes from both sides, it reminded me of the story of those men with wrenches.   

     It was silly to think that a faucet would solve the need for water in the desert. I’ll leave it to you to decide; Is the group that is for or against the tax breaks for Big Oil, carrying the wrenches in their hands?

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