My late father worked as a field hand for Exxon from the late 1940’s until his retirement in the mid ’80’s. So oil is in my blood. And it makes my blood boil to hear politicians denigrate “big oil” as a bunch of greedy corporate fat cats who are out to gouge the little guy. In my personal experience, that is definitely not the case.
The Houston Chronicle recently ran this article by Tom Potts, an Exxon retiree whose career covered the same time period as my father’s. Potts provides an excellent insight into the corporate culture that motivates Exxon — and serves our nation so well.
Profits are a measure of success — a universal goal of free enterprise — and Big Oil should be congratulated, not condemned for its success. We should be grateful that these U.S.-based corporations are alive and well. Were they not willing to invest substantial portions of their earnings in exploration for new petroleum reserves and the development of new energy sources, someday we might all be riding bicycles to work. And were they not willing to pay substantial dividends to shareholders, including pension funds and other financial resources important to all of us, our economy truly would tank.
Potts details the employee savings plans, philanthropic contributions to schools and universities, commitment to personal and corporate ethical standards, and shareholder dividends as examples of what every corporation should aspire to achieve. Our nation is fortunate to have such corporate citizens.
Personally, I’m proud to be an Exxon kid. I wish our politicians shared that appreciation for what “big oil” has done for our nation. If they follow through on their threats to punish the oil companies with windfall profit taxes, they will be killing the goose the lays the golden egg — and all of us will end up paying even steeper prices for our energy.