Now Playing: Rebel, by Tom Petty. “Hey hey hey! I was born a rebel, Down in Dixie on a Sunday morning, Yeah with one foot in the grave, And one foot on the pedal. I was born a rebel.”
It’s a trick question, of course, prompted by a Facebook friend’s post this morning about his boycott of BP since the giant oil spill began in the Gulf of Mexico. On the one hand, I sympathize with him. I don’t use BP any more, but I used to regularly, back when I lived in Gastonia. There was a station on my way to work, and it was convenient. That BP wasn’t an environmental criminal didn’t figure into the decision.
That’s what the company is now, and it’s hard to resist the urge to punish it somehow.
But whaddaya do?
Switch to Exxon? Yeah, and the Exxon Valdez never happened, right?
Switch to Shell? Human-rights and environmental violations in Nigeria.
Switch to Chevron? Wide-scale environmental abuses in Ecuador. The company faces a class-action lawsuit that accuses it of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon.
Switch to ConocoPhillips? Does business with Iran, according to The New York Times.
The sixth member of the Big Six oil companies, France-based Total SA, does business with Myanmar (Burma), possibly the most-regressive regime on the plant. It also apparently bribed members of Saddam Hussein’s administration to keep oil flowing from Iraq.
So you look to smaller companies. Not much luck there either, my friends. Hess and Citgo, for example, are among a group of oil companies ordered in 2008 to pay $442 million for contaminating water wells in the U.S.
The point being, be outraged at BP if you want. Boycott its stations if it floats your boat. But unless you start biking and walking, chances are you’re buying gasoline from just as big an environmental and moral criminal.
Back to the original question. How many moral companies will fit on the head of a pin? Until you find one that we can test with, no one will know. Not even Mr. Owl. Who figured out that it takes three licks to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.
Now that’s wisdom.
“These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people.” _ Abraham Lincoln