Baby Bison, don't tread on that pretty flower...

Baby Bison, don't tread on that pretty flower...
Custer State Park, SD; June, 2010

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Columbia, TN, United States
I am a Christian, married over 43 years to my gorgeous first wife; in 13th year as professor of education at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, TN; 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Extra! Extra! Read all about it...

I knew it was coming. I’d heard. I’d seen the handwriting on the wall. With gas prices approaching $4 a gallon in Columbia, it was inevitable. Then I saw it, buried on page 8A of the April 29 Daily Herald. It was naturally overshadowed by the devastating storm deaths and damage in the area and by all the hurting Bama folks driving north to find gas (at any price). The headline screamed, “EXXON makes $11 billion.” I read the brief Associated Press article from New York. I chuckled, gloomily, upon reading the first paragraph that contained the phrase that the oil maggot (not a misprint) “practically apologized for it.” The implication is that they didn’t really apologize, but they almost did…they thought about it, then reconsidered. I know what it means to apologize. You simply come out and say you’re sorry. Then, if the sorry-ness is sincere, you take steps to remedy the situation in favor of the person, or in this case people, to whom the apology was appropriately directed.

The news report goes on to indicate that the petroleum giant (monsterish, not just huge) sensed “public outrage” and “struck a defensive posture.” The really ludicrous part came a little later when the company complained that it “doesn’t even make that much money selling gasoline.” The article concluded with EXXON’s whine stating it was “not to blame for high gas prices.” I wanted to ask their corporate bosses if they would like a little cheese with that…Corporate bosses? Those just might be the big dogs that decide NOT to funnel, shall we say $10 billion, back to citizens by lowering pump prices at their gas stations all over the nation. A dime would help, or a dollar or two perhaps? Why not just stop the upward spiral?

My perspective as I fill up at the tank may be a little fuzzy. I think I’ve done my part by purchasing vehicles that get over 30 mpg on the highway. I have this image in my mind of the limo-chauffeured oil executives laughing all the way to the bank as they deposit those billions (yes, I know all that actually happens electronically and the corporate heads of EXXON probably haven’t seen the inside of a bank in decades). I have it on good authority (my own whimsy) that a normal conversation (whether texted or while sitting in plush, oversized, leather chairs in a board room – possibly in Cancun) between execs might go something like this: (names changed to protect the guilty) “Hey, Joe, how’s the lobbying going for our excessive first-quarter profits?” “Great, Charlie, got a study ready to roll out that shows our stocks are excellent investments for public pension plans.” “Marvelous! What about casting ourselves as the Scapegoats of Washington?” “Good idea. Then we could claim that the massive federal subsidies we receive, (under his breath Charlie whispers) that multiply our profits, of course, (returning to full conversational volume) are legitimate because they keep jobs at home.” “That’s right. We can suggest we don’t even make much money on selling gasoline.” “We need to publicize all the tax dollars that we contribute to the economy.” Yada, yada, yada…

My fuzziness continues…Last time I googled it (just now) the idea of “profits” is what we have left to stick in our pockets as discretionary income after paying all the bills (actually I just made up that definition). That’s the way my budget operates anyway. So my thought is this, “Hey, Charlie, yo, Joe…how about giving back.” Their response would probably be something like, “We raise pump prices because we can. The public is so reliant on gasoline that they will pay whatever. Besides, gas is still cheaper in the U.S. than anywhere else.” I can hear them laughing as they board the corporate jet for the second-quarter pow-wow in Tahiti.

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