It has been amazing to me to watch the debate over the oil tax. It seems to me that no one is seeing the real issue. We talk of the gas pipeline as some kind of carrot, as if the oil companies will do this great altruistic thing for us if we scratch their back now. In reality, whether they build it or not is entirely based upon its potential for profit, not because we are friends.
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The oil companies are attempting to frighten us by insinuating that if the tax goes up, they will slow investment here. In the same breath, they complain about the high costs of exploration elsewhere. In reality, it is simply business, and not friendship, that will keep them coming back for more. They want us to continue to tax below the "going rate," but point not to past reciprocation, but a future carrot as justification for our altruism. It's time to even the relationship. After all, it's not personal, it's just business.