Senate Oil Profits Hearings: Life Imitates Atlas Shrugged

Sometimes, unfortunately, life imitates art.

Caroline Baum, in a brilliant column at Bloomberg.com, demonstrates some regrettable parallels between Atlas Shrugged and the recent hearings on oil company profits.

In the wake of record earnings Senators Frist, Domenici, et al elected to question Hank Rearden, er… Exxon CEO Lee Raymond, about his business.

Dominici (as cited in Baum’s column) said:

”I expect the witnesses to answer whether you think your current profits are excessive and to talk about what they intend to do with the reserves and the profit accumulations that they have.”

Raymond’s reply?

“The price is set on the world market by willing buyers and sellers, as to what willing sellers are willing to sell it for and willing buyers are willing to pay for it.”

Ayn Rand once said there were certain real life events she couldn’t put in her novel, since they were so outrageous she’d be accused of inventing them. Sadly, this wasn’t one of them.