Sunday, October 30, 2005

ExxonMobile pleads business as usual

ExxonMobil posts tidy profits.
Sunday's Los Angeles Times features a display ad on page 5 of the editorial section entitled "Oil industry earnings are high, but not out of step with other industries." A side by side bar graph shows a comparison with other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, software publishing, insurance and the like. Oil is in the middle at 7.7%. Banks are the highest at 19% (don't get me started), pharma is at 18.6% (as if pharma profits weren't obscene in and of themselves), software at 17%, semiconductors 14.6%, household & personal products 10.7%, etc. ExxonMobile's profits fall in the middle range of all industries. The automobile industry is actually at the bottom, at 1.1%; pretty bad, and graphically reflects the industry's monumentally slow and stupid approach to giving the customer what he wants. Still, I used to manage retail camera stores, and we got by just fine on a profit margin of a hair over 2%. The graph (left) is the rise of EM's profits over the last 25 years.

ExxonMobile's defense is dubious at best, and disingenuous in any case. Software profits don't eat up 25% of my paycheck, and software publishers don't want to drill holes in my national parks or coat my disappearing wildlife with oil spills. The software publisher Corel, for instance, plows its profits back into making WordPerfect the best word processor of its kind. What does ExxonMobile do with it's profits? Gas is gas, friends. Likewise, while I'm pretty healthy and rarely even take an aspirin, my mother does spend almost a third of her retirement funds on drugs, so I would be leery of comparing my level of greed to an industry that keeps seniors in near-poverty ("We only make half of what those corporate rapists over there make!").

ExxonMobile bleats that they have invested $15 billion in infrastructure. Oh yeah? Where? And don't infrastructure costs come out of the operating budget as a tax-deductible item? For the record, there hasn't been a new oil refinery built in the last twenty five years in the United States by anyone.

Next to the pharmaceutical companies, the oil industry is the nearest industry we have that is privately owned that should be considered a public utility, and they are raking in obscene profits, regardless of the comparative percentage of that profit. We, the consumer, have nothing to show for it but empty wallets, high levels of choking pollution, melting ice caps and a fucking war that has killed thousands to date and looks to kill thousands more.

ExxonMobile, shut the fuck up.