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 Online Community Lesson 

 

Are We Puppets on a String?  

          “Puppets we are” is how Yoda of “Star Wars" would say it. 

          Sunday morning, during a commercial break in “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, an oil company was running an advertisement, ostensibly interviewing people on the street.  An interviewee said that oil companies had to diversify. 

          Time out.  Oil companies had to diversify?  Does this worry you? 

          Have you heard anybody say, “We need to break the bonds with which the oil companies have tied us?”  Oil companies controlled a large part of our energy market in the second half of the twentieth century.  They control a large part now.  They make very large profit.  And now they want to control—correction, they have begun to control—other parts of our energy market. 

          What is wrong with this?  Certainly, for them to control as much as they can is in their and their shareholders’ interest.  But their control is not in the public interest, not in the planet’s interest. 

          The “bottom line” for oil companies and other traditional companies is profit.  There is something relatively new called the “triple bottom line”.  Community-oriented businesspeople define the triple bottom line as “people, planet, and profit”, in descending order of priority.  One might argue that oil companies have a triple bottom line these days, but the order would be different:  profit first, nothing in second place, and people and planet tied for third. 

          For us to accept that oil companies must diversify, as was said in the advertisement last Sunday, is for us to resign ourselves to their control of a larger share of the energy market.  And with profit being the primary consideration of oil companies, have we considered that their timetable for alternative energy might be different from ours?  That they might delay the introduction of alternative energy until they took all the profit which they could from oil, restrained only by a possible public revolt? 

          The public should have a battle cry:  “Energy independence!”  And that would go beyond the U.S. ending our dependence on foreign oil.  Energy independence means that each of us would do everything possible to break free of the thrall in which the oil companies now hold us.         

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to lessonanswers@mymontebello.com with “Lesson answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization. 

1.  A statement that oil companies have to diversify

(a) should be heeded by those companies.

(b) is subtle propaganda to keep us from thinking about energy independence. 

2.  Energy independence can best be achieved

(a) by driving fuel-efficient vehicles.

(b) by supporting U.S. policy for energy independence.

(c) by personally reducing energy consumption.

(d) by implementing community programs independent of involvement or funding by oil companies.

(e) by urgently requesting that managers of pension funds invested in oil companies put people and planet before profit.

 

May 24, 2007

 

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    HOME  | "E-News" | Life's Problems  | "Montebello Oil" | Open Suggestion | Public Documents | Setting an Example | Young Thinkers | Project Instructions
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