The next time a gas fill up costs you $40 bucks or more, consider this: Lee Raymond, the retired CEO of Exxon-Mobil, was paid more than $1 billion by that company from 1993 to the present.
Raymond's retirement package is about $400 million, according to published reports. Does everybody love Raymond? I don't. I think he's a greed head.
The Exxon-Mobil board of directors approved Raymond's compensation. Guess who appointed most of those well-paid board members to their positions? Does the name Lee Raymond ring a bell?
And guess who is paying all those Exxon-Mobil salaries, including our pal Lee's? The regular folks who must buy gas to go to work and heat their homes. This is called "predatory capitalism."
Let me explain, and please keep in mind that I am a big-time supporter of capitalism. Gasoline supplies are at an eight-year high according to OPEC. There is plenty of gas selling on the open market, more than enough to meet the worldwide demand.
So rising gas prices are not a supply-and-demand issue.
What the American oil companies are doing is exploiting the uncertainty in the world. Every time the nutty Iranian government threatens to kill the Jews or the Americans or whoever, speculators bid up the paper price of a barrel of oil.
These speculators operate in the so-called commodities markets. They gamble on where the price of oil and other tangible assets will be months from now. These Vegas-type people sit in front of their computers and bid on "futures" contracts.
Every time the oil company executives, guys like Lee Raymond, see these people bidding up oil "futures," they order their retail gas station owners to jack up prices to you. Supply and demand? - my carburetor; this has nothing to do with the free market.
If you don't believe me, try to start your own oil company. Just try. The government has to approve almost everything these conglomerates do, and there's no room for any "startups."
So everyday Americans are at the mercy of a complicated shell game that is manipulated by a few people playing high risk financial roulette. But it is no game to millions of Americans who have to buy gas. We have no choice.
That's because the U.S. government declined to do what the government of Brazil did. Next year, Brazil, which has a population of 188 million, will be totally independent of imported oil. Back in the 1970s, the Brazilian government mandated that all cars sold in that country run on sugar-based ethanol. And now they do.
These are the same cars we drive. But in Brazil, the fuel situation is sweet. Vehicles run on sugar.
Back here in the U.S., the federal government rejected ethanol and all other alternative fuels because Lee Raymond and his brethren wanted none of that. Raymond is in the oil business, not the sugar business.
In the time of the French Revolution, Lee Raymond and his $400 million pension would be running one step ahead of the guillotine. But today, some in America admire Raymond and support his unbelievable compensation.
But to those of us who really understand what's going on here - Raymond and his ilk are hurting the country, and the government is their enabler. Talk about gas pains. There isn't enough Alka-Seltzer in the world.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His column appears on Friday. His "Radio Factor" can be heard weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM.