Exxon Wins A Shell Game

Smoking. . .in more ways than one! (Her foot is on fire.)

She's smokin'. . .in more ways than one! (Her foot is on fire.)

I have a question for the media-at-large.

I can understand why the new FDA regulation of tobacco received minimal media coverage. Only 20% of Americans still smoke, according to the latest data available from the American Cancer Society, so I can see that really not being much of a big deal, as not even a quarter of the country’s population is affected by the decision.* Hell, I can even support the proposed changes in tobacco regulation.

But, in this time of very high gas prices, which affect 136% of Americans (that figure was provided by Exxon-Mobil’s accounting department), how does the news that, for the April-June quarter of 2008, Exxon-Mobil posted the biggest quarterly profit ever posted by a US Corporation (which was somehow still lower than expectations) NOT get splashed all over front pages and websites everywhere? I found that on CBSnews.com by accident! Okay, yes, if you check the business sections of websites and newspapers you’ll find it there, but for myself and many people that I know, the business section doubles as a powerful sleep aid. This should be front page news! So why isn’t it, American media? Why isn’t Congress acting on that instead of adding new responsibilities to the already overburdened and underfunded FDA?

The really shocking part? As high as that profit is (and realize that’s after Exxon-Mobil paid a $300 million settlement over the Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989), they only beat Shell (which is not an American company) for quarterly profits by $3 million. These people are making gi-fucking-normous amounts of money while you’re struggling just to fill your gas tank and cancelling your family’s summer vacation because it’s too expensive to drive anywhere cool. (The media’s solution? The Staycation! Have fun at home! My solution: vicious beatings of oil company executives until gas prices go down.**)

You’re having to sell your truck, which is useful to you at work and at home, or the SUV or van you actually use for carting around your 2.5 children and their friends, to buy a subcompact that might have all the speed, proper engine function, and combined cabin/trunk capacity of a large pumpkin because you can’t afford gas anymore while oil executives are receiving outlandish personal compensation packages, sending their kids to great private schools while you’re trying to figure out how to arrange for daycare because your kid’s school had to cut back to four days a week due to high gas prices, and buying up the houses that you had to sell because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shafted you on your mortgage.

An Exxon executove prepares to pull more money out of Americas ass.  Hope he takes the watch off first.

An Exxon executive prepares to pull even more money out of America's ass. Hope he takes the watch off first.

Look, America, I’m just going to say this flat out: wake the fuck up. Get up. Get mad. Get angry. Demand answers from your senators, your representatives, your President especially, and oil companies. They all need to be reminded that in this country, the people have all the power and they have to answer to us. Tell them you’re not falling for their smokescreen public appeasement acts or their hand-wrangling “what can we do?” bullshit any more. Tell your presidential candidates you don’t want to see Paris Hilton and Britney Spears in commercials (not with clothes on, anyway); you want some fucking answers and you want them right fucking now.

They’ve done more than wrong us; they’ve completely betrayed us in order to profit handsomely from our misery, and they need to pay for it. It’s our job as citizens – yours, mine, everybody’s – to make sure that they do.

VS – 8.1.08

* – Also by the way, the high taxes on cigarettes and settlements against tobacco companies are what’s currently paying for your schools, roads, public works projects, and many other public services. The 20% of Americans currently paying the high taxes and the settlements would like to say a few things to the American people, which I will briefly list here: “You’re welcome, you f&%$ing ingrates.” “That factory smokestack over there puts out more carcinogens and pollutants in one hour than I will in my entire life, you goddamned idiots.” “If you really have nothing better to do than get fired up about smokers, may I suggest you take some time to kiss my smoking butt.” And last, but not least, “what are you going to do when you’ve stamped out smoking and your politicians are left with nothing else to demonize, no more use of the tobacco industry as a smokescreen for all the crap they don’t take action about, plus a horrendous budget shortfall, jerkholes?” This message paid for by The National Association Of Smokers Who Wish Americans Would Wake The Fuck Up And Realize That There Are Far Bigger Problems That Need to Be Dealt With Immediately.

** – Please don’t actually go out and do this. That said, if you do and get caught, please don’t mention my name.

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One Response to “Exxon Wins A Shell Game”

  1. It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.—John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, 1790. (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.)

    There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust.—Demosthenes: Philippic 2, sect. 24.

    Amazingly, this has nothing to do with keeping an eye on your neighbours and reporting suspicious packages. This has to do with our own government. If we don’t stand together and demand an accounting from our own elected representatives, from the companies with which we do business, and our journalists, we will lose our liberties. This process began when I was in high school; it has continued a staggering path ever since. If we want our liberties back, we must stop asking. We must demand them. If we want corporations to behave responsibly, we must vote with our dollars. If we want our elected representatives to represent us, we need to ask tough questions. If we want our journalists to investigate, we need to boycott “newstainment” and demand more real investigative journalism. That means no trip to Wal-Mart when it’s 4 am and it’s half the price of the family-run store. That means cutting back on our travelling or taking the bus when the oil companies behave irresponsibly; or better, converting your car to run on something else. Yes, it’s inconvenient. Inconvenience is a whole lot better than imprisonment.

    Stop asking. Start demanding.

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