are we ALL big oil?

ben stein has written a piece in the new york times asking people to examine their assumptions and anger at record profits by oil companies. i think his points should be taken seriously. we, as a nation, are addicted to petroleum at a very deep, systemic level. (disclosure: i currently own stock in two oil companies, OXY and PTF. at some point i will write a post about the quite different filter through which you view the news when you have direct holdings in oil.)

UPDATE: my friend michael bean sent me this extremely cool simulation he built modeling different strategies to reduce U.S. dependence on oil. give it a try and see how you do. the most effective strategies might (or might not) surprise you.

Are we angry, then, at the owners of the oil companies? Maybe, but then it’s self-hatred. Roughly 41 percent of Exxon Mobil stock is owned by retirement funds, private, public (federal, state and local) and individual retirement accounts. In other words, by us. […]

ONE of the largest holders is the College Retirement Equities Fund, for higher-education teachers and others. Are we angry at them? If teachers get a bigger retirement because oil company profits are up, are we sad?

So, when gasoline and heating oil prices go up —
prices that are set by the markets, not in the Exxon Mobil boardroom in Irving, Tex. — why are we angry at the schoolteachers and retired police officers who own Exxon Mobil and who can now buy new golf clubs?

We can be angry at “them” all we want, but it does not make a lot of sense because, at the end of the day, “them” is us. Or as Pogo Possum, a cartoon figure of the past, used to say, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”






2 responses to “are we ALL big oil?”

  1. phil Avatar

    the oil companies should reimburse us for securing their interests overseas. without the subsidy, the pensions might look elsewhere to invest.

  2. Jondi Avatar

    Corporations are controlled by the board of directors … shareholders have a say but shareholder activism has its limits. IMHO corporate legal reform is a necessity if we are to see improved ethical behavior on the part of oil, mining, and other polluting, exploitive industries. We can and should be angry with profiteering and environmental destruction on the part of these companies, even if we are shareholders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.