Friday, December 02, 2005


Let's talk MONEY!!!! Today's Rant focuses on the endless pursuit of the "green monster." Some say it can buy you happiness, some even say it can buy you love, but is it actually the root of most of today's evils?

One such example for the argument that money has caused more harm than good is the recent quarter earnings reported by the 5 major oil companies. While millions of Americans are struggling to keep their "head above water" while earning minimum wage and have no health insurance, these companies reported earning more than $32.8 billion during the July-September quarter.

Consumers saw gasoline prices soar beyond $3 a gallon in the aftermath of supply disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Lee Raymond, chairman of Exxon Mobil Corp., acknowledged the high gasoline and home heating prices "have put a strain on Americans' household budgets," but he defended his company's profits. Petroleum earnings "go up and down" from year to year and are in line with other industries when compared with the industry's enormous revenues. (The New York Times, 11/10/05) (What The New York Times didn't report, is that Mr. Raymond probably made these statements from his yacht.)* "...Strain..." that is putting it mildly considering minimum wage does not take into account inflation each year. It would certainly be a correct assumption that, at least, the poor keep getting poorer.

Raymond said his company had issued guidelines "to minimize the increase in price" but added, "if we kept the price too low we would quickly run out (of fuel) at the service stations. It was a tough balancing act." (The New York Times, 11/10/05) I am sure he was thinking of the people who would not be able to afford heating their homes/apartments/cardboard boxes, this winter when it is -10 degrees in many places, when he was doing his "balancing".

Some Republican and Democratic lawmakers have suggested that the oil companies should funnel some of their earnings to supplement a federal program that help low-income households pay heating bills. "As an industry we feel it is not a good precedent to fund a government program," said James Mulva, chairman of ConocoPhillips. Yeah, your wife might have to go without another diamond necklace.

The chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission, Deborah Platt Majoras said, ''Price gouging laws that have the effect of controlling prices likely will do consumers more harm than good...In fact, price increases lower demand and help make the shortage shorter-lived than it otherwise would have been.'' Deborah Platt Majoras, explaining her opposition to enactment of a federal price gouging law. I was not an economics major in college but does any one else see a flawed logic here? "Lower demand"...yeah I am sure the person making $50 million a year will be sure not to drive their supped-up Hummer through the low-income projects. After all, they will take their gas bills off as a tax deduction and/or company expense.

The recent earnings report would not be as inciting if the CEO's and top executives were passing these earnings on to their workers. Because they do not and our laws do not force them to, we are seeing a greater divide between the rich and the poor. Come on, how many private jets does someone really need?

Have we learned nothing from Enron? Do we really need to see again, the workers of that multi-billion dollar company, many of whom spent their hard working careers making the it the success it once was and are just ready to retire, when the axe drops and they have nothing to show for all their years of dedication? Head in hands, sitting on the steps of the company's Texas office, tears in their eyes, while the executives scurry off past them in their limousines.

...Money being a root of evil? Now, tell me what you think?

*This is a fictitious and sarcastic statement...well maybe.

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