Re: "Oil companies raise prices to maintain profits," From Readers, April 4
Andrew Liptak needs a quick lesson in economics. There's a difference between profit -- which is simply revenue minus expenses -- and profit margin, which is the real barometer of business success. The raw profit number only tells you the difference between your income and your expenses. A $1,000 profit is one thing for a $100 lemonade stand, but quite another for a million-dollar electronics store.
Liptak cites Exxon, so let's look at their financials. Exxon's net profit for 2011 was about $41 billion, not quite double what Microsoft made by way of profit. Exxon's total revenue, before expenses, was a bit more than $486 billion -- nearly seven times Microsoft's total revenue. But Exxon's business expenses were $306.8 billion, and the company paid more than $31 billion in taxes in 2011 -- more than Microsoft's total profit. Still think that's obscene?
With seven times Microsoft's total revenue but not quite two times Microsoft's profit, Exxon is much less profitable than Microsoft. But even though Windows 8 is likely to be ridiculously expensive when it launches, you're not going to see Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer get dragged up to Capitol Hill for a congressional dog and pony show.
Oil companies make for easy and convenient political punching bags. But when you look at how much money they have to spend to make those profits as well as the public whippings they have to routinely endure, it's almost enough to make you feel some sympathy, even with gas prices where they are.
Without oil companies to power our transportation, the American way of life as we know it now would not exist. Think about it.
Obamacare revokes freedom to choose health insurance
Re: "America has never really been united," From Readers, April 4
David Mugan thinks we ought to be able to choose whether to participate in Obamacare.
But that's precisely the choice prevented by the mandate currently under consideration by the Supreme Court, to which Mr. Mugan would rather not entrust his liberty.
Jon A. Hoppe
Health care status quo is what's indefensible
Re: "Don't blame Verrilli: Hard to defend the indefensible," April 1
Glenn Harlan Reynolds argues that Obamacare, with an individual mandate policy first proposed by conservative Republicans, is indefensible.
What's really indefensible is that in a nation that likes to call itself Christian, we have 22,000 people die every year because they lack health insurance; one million people declaring bankruptcy every year because of medical costs; and 50 million men, women and children who have no health insurance at all. Unlike every other modern nation in the world, we don't believe affordable and readily accessible healthcare is a human right.
You don't need to read "The Federalist Papers" to know that our present system is both wrong and immoral. You can argue against Obamacare on all the constitutional and legal grounds you want, but it doesn't erase the fact that the status quo that President Obama is trying to correct is inhumane.