Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What's wrong with this headline?

What's wrong with this headline: "Exxon Posts Its 2nd-Best Quarter, But It's Not Enough for Wall St."?

Well, the headline is fine, journalistically speaking - actually it makes quite a point. And the point is what's wrong: As Americans around the country are gasping at the gas pump - not from the fumes but from the astronomically soaring prices - Exxon Mobil on May 1 reported the second-highest quarterly profits in its history ... and Wall Street investors were disappointed.

What's wrong is all about capitalism. The article, in the New York Times business section, goes on to quote financial analysts saying things like:

"Investment comes down to expectations, and the expectations were pretty high, especially after BP and Shell reported pretty good outlooks. And Exxon didn't quite deliver."

"The market wants growth, growth and growth."

- that one was from an analyst at Deutsche Bank.

When I filled up my car on Saturday the woman at the next pump turned my way with a sigh and a grimace and said, "I told my kids we're just not going anywhere. We're going to be staying home." I don't think there's too much growth in her family's economy, or in yours or mine.

If we are concerned about the health of our economy, we have to be concerned about growth in the economies of working class America and about growth in sustainable human economies that are in sync with nature.

Exxon's "growth" - and BP's, Shell's, Chevron's, etc. - is coming at the expense of their own workers who create the profits, of folks like the woman at my local gas station and everyone else whose paycheck, if they have one, can't keep up with the soaring prices, and of our planet which is reeling under the impact of fossil-fuel-produced climate change.

What it demonstrates is how capitalism is outliving its usefulness.

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