who’s to blame?

who’s to blame?

From the Los Angeles Times (Exxon Reports Record-Breaking Profits)

Exxon Reports Record-Breaking Annual Profits
By Jesus Sanchez, Times Staff Writer

ExxonMobil Corp. today said its annual profits soared more than 40% last year to a record-breaking $36.1 billion as the world’s largest publicly owned energy company reaped the benefits of soaring prices and demand for crude oil and gasoline.

The company’s annual and quarterly profit figures, which were even larger than Wall Street had expected, sent the company’s shares up more than 3% in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

ExxonMobil’s annual profit was the largest ever reported in corporate history, Standard & Poor’s stock market analyst Howard Silverblatt told Associated Press.

The energy giant also claims the second-largest annual corporate profit ever reported, $25.3 billion in 2004.

The Irving, Texas-based company’s profits rose strongly across most of its units despite the damage and disruption to production and refinery facilities suffered during the Gulf Coast hurricanes. For the fourth quarter, the company said profits, including special one-time items, surged 27% on a year-over-year basis to $10.7 billion.

Company officials, mindful of the anger triggered by last year’s surge in energy prices that sent gasoline soaring to $3 a gallon in many parts of the nation, stressed the company’s investment in expanding production. Last year, ExxonMobil spent $17.7 billion in exploration and facilities.

“There is a great deal of public interest in global energy prices,” ExxonMobil Chairman Rex W. Tillerson said in a statement. “We recognize that consumers worldwide want and need reliable supplies of affordable energy — to fuel their vehicles, light and heat their homes and run their businesses. Our strong financial results will continue to allow us to make significant, long-term investments required to do our part in meeting the world’s energy needs.”

ExxonMobil and other industry officials have been active in trying to head off renewed calls to slap a windfall profits tax amid record profits.

Last week, Chevron Corp. also reported record high fourth quarter and annual profits despite costly repairs to its Gulf Coast facilities. The San Ramon, Calif.-based company said that annual profits surged to $14.1 billion last year from $13 billion in 2004.

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We have no one to blame but ourselves. We create the demand that drives up prices. We do not worry over much about finding alternative sources for tomorrow’s energy needs as long as we have enough to maintain our accustomed lifestyles today. We cannot blame elected leaders or oil company executives for an economic reality that we have created and we permit to endure.

And yet … There is something disturbing, something almost sinister, about the juxtaposition of regular folks in our own nation and around the world feeling the energy squeeze, choosing between heat and food, choosing between heat and health care, with the huge oil companies (and their executives) reaping unprecedented profits. Maybe that’s how the economic “game” works, but there are clear winners and losers. The pain is not shared. The people’s pain is the oil company’s gain.

I know I would have a hard time living with myself if my windfall came at the expense of someone else’s suffering …

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