What’s wrong with this picture Exxon-Mobil?

Exxon-Mobil announces its largest profit ever in the third quarter, July- September, following its record breaking second quarter profits.  This is the same quarter that gas prices rose to over $4 a gallon forcing small businesses to raise prices or curtail scope of business, forcing airlines to reduce flight schedules and layoff employees, forcing farmers to increase food prices, and forcing some schools to go to a four day school week to save on rising fuel costs.  The impact of this energy crisis was widespread but evidently wasn’t hurting Exxon-Mobil.    

This is the second quarter in a row that Exxon-Mobil broke profit records.  In the second quarter Exxon-Mobil earned a record $11.68 Billion,  in the third quarter earned $14.83 Billion.  Is it me, or does this not seem quite right given the extraordinary hardship rising fuel costs have caused us this past summer? 

Now if Exxon-Mobil had posted a modest profit or even posted a just better than break even quarter, I would think that Exxon-Mobil had managed their affairs well during this fuel crisis of the record breaking oil costs that was daily fluctuating the costs at the pump.  But a record breaking profit???  When the rest of America was faltering towards recession?   And they are wanting a tax credit from the government because it would help bolster the economy?  What else is going on here? 

Bernice Johnson Reagon  of Sweet Honey in The Rock wrote this song entitled “Greed.”  Here are some of its words.   

I been thinking ’bout how to talk about greed
I been thinking ’bout how to talk about greed
I been wondering if I could sing about greed
Trying to find a way to talk about greed

Greed is a poison rising in this land
The soul of the people twisted in its command
It moves like a virus, seeking our anyone
Greed never stops, its work is never done
A creeping, killing, choking, invading everywhere
There really is no escaping greed’s tricky snare

Nothing seems to stop it once it enters your soul
It has you buying anything, spinning out of control
Not partial to gender, or your sexual desire
All it wants is for you to own, to possess and to buy
It rides with the culture, touching us all
Greed really isn’t picky, it’ll make anybody fall

It’s been around a long time, since way before we began
Before this was a nation, greed drove people to this land
Greed driven people created slavery,
Black men, women and children became somebody’s property
Greed is a strain of the American dream
Having more than you need is the essential theme …

When O when, will America realize that our actions of greed impact everyone.  Greed is going to be (and current events indicate is) our downfall.  Exxon-Mobil from where I sit, it seems your greed is partly responsible for the economic crisis we are facing today.  Corporations can no longer operate as if they are islands unto themselves.  We need to begin co-operating with each other in living on this planet or face peril. We need to shift our thinking of wanting more and more to wanting what is sufficient.  If that is a socialist stance, then sobeit, but cooperation is a core value that I seek to uphold.

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2 Comments

  1. Yes, Mobile makes a fixed percentage profit, so that when the price goes up so do their profits- they could easily have floated their percentage to make a flat profit regardless of price fluctuations.

    But then again, the government also takes a fixed percentage- a much higher percentage than Mobile gets- and they, too, could have floated their rates to keep the same tax income regardless of price fluctuations.

    Are windfall tax profits any better than windfall corporate taxes when both are hurting the public? Seems to me the people are being no better served by the public sector than the private.

  2. Joel: I am not sure that I completely understand your response. And I am not sure that I agree with either windfall tax profits or with windfall corporate taxes as a solution.

    I do think it is wrong to offer tax credits to large businesses which would reduce their tax percentage responsibility to a percentage that is lower than what the average person would pay.

    I also think it is wrong for a company such as Exxon-Mobil to rake in huge profits at the expense of other major fuel dependent companies. If the price of fuel remained high for much longer, we would have seen more airlines fold up and disappear.

    When the economy is so interdependent on the actions of any one sector, it requires cooperation between sectors to ensure economic health. I believe we are seeing in today’s economic crisis the limits of an ultra-capitalist society.

    We saw what the limits were of an ultra-socialist society in the 1980’s resulting in the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the Iron Curtain.

    We need to understand that the free market comes with some pretty heavy strings attached. If we are going to survive we need to understand the consequences of these strings before we start pulling on them. Increased cooperation and an attitude towards sufficiency are two strings we need to investigate.


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