"…goes into the pension and retirement accounts of ordinary citizens. When Exxon pays a dividend, that money goes to pay for the mortgages and oxygen tanks and in-home care of lots of elderly Americans."
With which oxygen-sucking pensioners is Stein hanging out? As Naked Capitalism blogger Yves Smith notes, most of "us" don’t own shares in Exxon and barely half of Americans have pensions. I’d add that retirees outside Stein’s circle are not clipping Exxon dividend coupons, they’re putting on a fake grin and greeting shoppers at Wal-Mart.
Stein also argues:
"…after expenses, the money hauled in by Exxon Mobil and other companies like it goes vastly more toward exploration and finding new ways of delivering oil and gas to us slobs in our cars than it does to well-heeled oil executives."
Wrong comparison, Ben. What chokes those of us paying $3.50 a gallon for gasoline, and seeing $4.00 around the corner, is that Exxon spends more tens of billions to to buy back its own stock (About $30 billion in 2006 alone) than toward exploration or modernizing aged, ureliable refineries. Or investing in any kind of non-oil future.
Or that Exxon has spent years denying the science of global warming and punish those who dared call it a fact–even getting the White House to do its bidding.
Then again, that fits with Stein’s latest project. The same Ben who did such a great turn as the most boring teacher in the world in "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" is now the host and star of "Expelled," a religious-right documentary version of Michael Moore (without the sense of humor), on the suffering of academics and teachers who demand the right to teach the updated version of creationism, intelligent design, and deny evolution, in the classroom. See the trailer and Ben’s blog … and the New York Times story on alleged deceptive tactics by the producers–and Ben.
The movie’s promotional slogan is that "Big Science Has Expelled Smart New Ideas From the Classroom." Just like Big Oil expelled science from the global warming debate, maybe. And like Ben Stein expelled inconvenient truths in favor of hugs for Exxon.
I got a letter today and discovered Chevron actually doesn’t keep every consumer dollar that it could. I got a buck back from the oil giant.
You’ll remember I dropped by Town Hall Los Angeles last week where Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly was speaking so I could give him our Golden Nozzle Award for sticking it to consumers. I didn’t get to present the carefully handcrafted gilded gasoline pump nozzle to the chairman. Donald Campbell, manager of media relations, accepted on his behalf.
Here’s a link to a video of the presentation.
Before I handed the Golden Nozzle to Campbell, I had stuffed a dollar in the spout. I told him it was “added value.”
Today’s mail included a note from Campbell who says he wants to introduce us to “some of our [Chevron’s] officers so that you can help us advocate for a more streamlined investment process to expand refining capacity in the U.S. (and California) to the benefit of consumers.”
He included my buck. Well, truth be known I’d actually borrowed the dollar from a colleague and have since returned it to him.
So, clearly Chevron doesn’t keep every consumer dollar it could. Probably with the billions it rakes in, a single dollar bill just doesn’t’ matter much. For a non-profit, advocacy group it’s a different story.
Indeed, if everyone who reads this sends a dollar — or a little more — to the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights we can keep the pressure on.
As for a meeting with Chevron officers? We’re glad to sit down with Chairman Dave O’Reilly.]]>
Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly came to Los Angeles to make a speech. We figured it was a great opportunity to remind him what the company’s soaring gasoline prices do to consumers. I dropped by to present him with the “Golden Nozzle Award” for sticking it to California consumers.
I had bought my $55 ticket to the Town Hall Los Angeles event where O’Reilly was speaking. Before going into the reception I chatted with the media about the award.
I stressed that soaring gas prices are largely caused by a lack of refined gasoline, not rising prices of crude oil. I said, “Chevron controls the amount of gasoline they make and the company artificially lowers gasoline supplies to drive up gasoline prices. When refinery utilization rates are cut, prices to consumers and Chevron’s profits go up. That’s why Chevron has not built a new refinery in 30 years.”
Having set the context for the award, I headed for the reception, cameras following. I was stopped at the door and told that cameras weren’t allowed and that it was a private reception. I explained that I was invited and had paid my money and showed my ID badge.
The gatekeepers agreed I could go in, but not the cameras. I explained that I had an award that I wanted to deliver to O’Reilly. One of the gatekeepers asked if I wanted someone to come out to accept it.
I said that would be fine, but it would be best if O’Reilly himself came to receive Chevron’s award.
They sent Donald Campbell, manager of media relations. He listened to what I had to say, said he’d like to have us sit down with key Chevron executives so we could better understand the company, accepted the award and returned to the reception.
I headed in without cameras in tow, but was reminded that I was wearing a microphone and couldn’t enter with it pinned to my tie. I’d truly forgotten I had it.
After removing the offending electronics, I entered and was immediately engaged in discussion by Campbell. It was an interesting chat, but it dawned on me that he really was most interested in keeping me away from O’Reilly.
I asked him to introduce us, but he declined. Heck, at that point all I wanted to do was compare notes with O’Reilly about pubs on the north side of Dublin. O’Reilly is Irish and I spent a wonderful year there teaching at Dublin City University.
I went in for the lunch. The food was fine. After eating I asked Campbell if we could shoot video of the speech. Told him I didn’t plan anything outrageous, I just wanted straight-up coverage of the event. He declined. I asked again. Then I dropped by his table to see if he’d had second thoughts. “No,” he said.
I told him I was going to leave, asked that he please send me a text of the speech. He said he would. Then I told him I was going over to the head table to say good-bye to O’Reilly.
Campbell looked really worried. “Relax,” I said. “I’m not going to do anything crazy.”
I introduced myself to O’Reilly, told him who I was and that “his colleague” had accepted the “Golden Nozzle Award” in his behalf. Left him my card.
I’ll be following up with both of them to make sure that Campbell did pass along the award and O’Reilly truly appreciates what it means.]]>