Friday, December 26, 2014

Please! Somebody think of the oil companies!


We bob as corks far from shore in that sea named "the Holiday Season."

As such, times get hectic. It is easy to get tunnel-vision while having all t
hose hair-pulling and teeth gnashing moments with family
 that fun. You forget there is a world outside your window. There are people in need right now, living with the terror and dread of bitter uncertainty. What will happen next? How will they survive as every day seems to bring them less? You know who they are. They are a part of our daily lives and we at best ignore them and at worst regard them with scathing disdain.

I'm talking about the oil industry.

I stopped at a gas station here in the metro Chicago area. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but a price tag of $2.08/gallon.

I rubbed my eyes.

I dabbed at my sweat.

I got that uneasy "should I or shouldn't I?" sensation that I get when I find money on the sidewalk.

Did I somehow get the date wrong? Was it April Fool's Day? I ran inside the station and found the clerk. The man smelled of beef jerky and lay half asleep upon the counter (yeah, you'd think he would be grateful for his minimum wage job.)
"You, shopkeep," I roused him. "Tell me. What day is this?"
"It's Christmas Day," he grunted and then mumbled "jackass" before returning to his slumber.

I stumbled back to my car at the pump. Dazed and not knowing quite what else to do, I went through my usual routine of fueling my tank. The final tab came in at a full $10 beneath my usual total.

Guilt doesn't even begin to describe my feelings. And that's when I heard the shuffling footsteps behind me.

It was a man in a navy blue pinstripe suit and a red tie. He was pasty and aged, a right wrinkly old elf. He kept a cigar lodged tight between his gritted teeth. I would have questioned his wisdom of smoking near a gas pump, but he appeared affluent so he must know something that I don't, I figured.

"Please sir," he said to me as held out his hands. "May I have some more?"

I didn't know what to say. So I just stood there, looking at the panhandler.

The man went on to explain that he was in "upper-tier management" at an oil company. For almost 90 consecutive days, the average price of gas per gallon has been dropping in the United States. Crude oil prices have plummeted by the barrel. Summarily, the whole industry was looking at a hit in its profit margin and all of it happening at holidays. The man wearily expressed to me that he might not be able to get his family to the Caribbean yet this season.

"And it's turning really cold out, too!" I gasped.

He nodded glumly. I didn't know what else to do, so I forked over the ten I thought I owed him. He spoke not a word as he took it from my hands. I asked if he had anywhere to stay for the holidays. He said he did and that in fact his 
sycophants
 friends were coming over to spend the night in his combined armory and library. There they would be forced to sully themselves by drinking moosemilk brandy while attempting to bolster their spirits with the written word, taking turns reading from the spiritual texts of Ayn Rand and Ann Coulter.

My stomach turned and my eyes welled with water as I watched the elderly but well-dressed man saunter out of sight, telling me over his shoulder to have "a happy whatever."

I hurried home, feeling that I was owed an explanation. Why had I not heard anything about this crisis on Fox News? I struggled and wriggled in my cranium, but I could not manage to recall one time when they mentioned these dwindling gas prices (I just knew it had to be Obama's fault). I called someone I know who works in the oil industry down in Houston. He is part owner of a consulting firm for the industry and he and his partners have been looking to sell the company as they all approach their twilight years. Alas, with prices as they are now, I discovered that few if any potential buyers expressed interest. Not even a nibble.

"Nobody wants to buy an oil company now," he said. The statement mirrored another plaintive bleat I had heard just days earlier from the Island of Misfit Toys. "Nobody wants to play with a Charlie in the Box."

Well, is not Shell our Charlie in the Box? Is not Exxon our choo-choo train with square wheels?

Don't attempt to be my "Annie in the orphanage," pointing to the fact that the Dow closed at above 18,000 while singing "the sun'll come out tomorrow." Something must be done and done now. In the name of all that's holy, these men are our "job creators!" They fuel our conveyances, shielding us from smelly, crowded things like commuter trains and buses. They defend us from crazy, greenie pipe dreams of clean energy, like solar and wind. Does the corralled calf bite and tear off its mother's teat? Does the addict dare strike his dealer? Of course not. That would be idiocy supreme. Such would be the same for us. We owe these oil men our allegiance, our subservience, and occasionally our time by scrubbing Palmolive on an oil-slicked duck.

Yes, yes I tossed that last bit in there for you environmentalist types. I'm certain you will try to somehow hold random mishaps such as the BP oil spill against these pillars of our community or perhaps you'll bring up that great liberal hoax known as "climate change." Well where you see a "climate crisis," these men of vision see a "capital opportunity." With the ice of the Arctic melting away, we now have access to millions of barrels of crude oil that we wouldn't otherwise have. Sure, no oil company has ever operated in an environment as extreme as the Arctic and no one really knows how you would clean up an oil spill in pack ice or broken ice, but that's all part of the challenge of doing great things. Besides, what's the worst that could happen?

And don't you even cry to me about the wildlife in the "ecosystem." We can't fuel our SUVs and our Hummers with cute baby seals or goofy caribou. In ten years, are you going to remember some indigenous species that went extinct or will you be too busy fondling and caressing the saved cash in your wallet? We need oil...not no ecosystem.

So this holiday season, I urge you, I implore you, I double-dog dare you, to think about others. Think about those who do so much to us for us and our world. Yes they have bags full of support from Republicans in Congress but that's not enough. The support must come from us, the "small people" as BP's Carl-Henric Svanberg once called us, coyly hinting at the industry's endearing pet name for we in the hoi polloi. Wow. I just saw tiny red hearts pop up and spin all around me when I realized they think about us.

Please. Please, come on. We do it for banks "too big to fail" and rightly so. I mean, why else would we let Citigroup write 80% of a House Financial Services bill that allows major banks to be exempt from regulations? Can we not do the same for the oil industry in  this time of crisis? Can we...I dunno...make it easier for them to add additional charges on speculation, legal to drill inside National Parks, or something? 

I therefore ask you to put aside for a moment your petty troubles. Don't dwell on how you will pay to heat your home this winter or something equally as picayune such as paying your rent or mortgage. Instead, try to see yourself as you are. Try for just one moment to grasp your true patriotic purpose. We are cogs in but a much larger machine. Without the lubrication of our currency, this machine could quite probably fall to pieces and create a healthier, less-polluted world for no damn reason. You may dance at these low gas prices but I assure you, dear reader, you do so on the grave of an industry's profits.


Will somebody please think of the oil industry?


Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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