While walking about clifton, watching the passing sites, scenes, and people, good friend, Abu Abdullah, quipped the following:
“There are two types of people; Masters, and Slaves. Whether this is for better or for worse is irrelevant”
Hmm, food for thought. There is remarkable truth to this, and for the most part it is a fact that must be understood if one is to do anything about one’s own place in these categories.
Many people tend to ignore History, the few who actually pay attention to History tend to view the past as a more simple age than the present.
By extension they see people of the past as more simple than people of the present.
The sole reason that people actually think the past is simpler than the present is that people of the present learn about the past from history books written and taught simple-minded people.
People of the past had desires, ambitions, lusts, loves, loathings and burning hatreds, intelligence, desperations, debts, and inner demons as complex, if not more so, than people of today.
Life during the French Revolution, the First Roman civil wars, or the end of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty was as complicated, if not far more so, than life today.
Reading history written by the simple minded makes us into simple minded people, in turn.
Ignoring History makes us oblivious to the reality of what is going on around us, because the world of today was built by people of yesterday.
There are two types of people; Masters, and Slaves. Whether this is for better or for worse is beyond this blog’s scope.
I think that one’s position in society’s pecking order; master, or slave, has a bit to do with how well one understands history. Or at least the few aspects of history directly relevant to one’s situation.
14 Oct 07 Sunday
Problem with Boycotting / Buycotting Citgo or any other Gas Company – Commodity markets
Often, hosts of well meaning folk, conservative in some cases, liberal in other cases, send out calls campaigning for boycotts – or in some cases “buycotts”, of different Oil and Gas companies. The reasons usually relate to the politics of the host country where that company is headquartered.
An Example: BP – Al Sharpton recently called for a Boycott of BP because “None of its executives are Black.” Some environmental activists have called for boycotts of BP due to environmental dumping of pollutants into lakes.
“Free Tibet” activists have also called on Boycotting BP for assisting the Chinese government in exploiting Tibetan Oil. They further point out that by BP investing with PetroChina they indirectly support the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNCP), which is “a company active in the Sudan, where it was implicated in the deaths of nearly 2 million Sudanese and the persecution and displacement of several million more.”
An Example: Citgo – some people want to boycott Citgo because the company is Venezuelan and Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s President, is an “American Hater” who supports our country’s enemies. The argument further goes that he’s a dangerous near-dictator who suppresses dissent in his country, etc., etc. They argue that he has “Vowed to bring Down The Government of the USA” and is pursuing a dangerous Socialist revolution along the lines of Castro’s.
Activists sometimes play fast and loose with facts. Would anyone mind providing actual factual references that a Chinese Oil company was implicated in the death of 2 MILLION SUDANESE? A claim on this massive scale requires extraordinary evidence.
Some individuals – usually progressives – view Chavez as a courageous Democratic leader who reinvests his country’s Oil Profits into assisting the poor, and opposed the spread of America’s Imperial Ambitions. They argue that Venezuela unlike Saudi Arabia or Middle Eastern Countries is a democracy with concerns for social welfare.
The reality is more complex, scandals exist over corruption in Venezuela’s National Oil company. I know an individual who had a personal deal with a Chavez family member concerning Petroleum, but pulled out due to the absurdly shifty and corrupt nature of people – who shall not be named – with whom he was dealing.
As for Tibet, China, and BP – extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Is some proof or evidence given of atrocities on this MASSIVE scale? No, well meaning activist simply take these words at face value without even bothering to look deeper. And why not? Righteous indignation trumps reason often.
And what exactly does “implicated” mean here? Implicated by whom? When, and how?
All of these are based on misunderstandings – and at a point the misunderstanding borders on Bullshit and distracts people from more useful actions.
Boycott’s FEEL GOOD. They make us feel like we are DOING SOMETHING. In fact are we accomplishing anything really? I believe action should accomplish aims – if you do something that which you do should do something. Accomplish something
The fact is that whether you do or don’t buy BP or Citgo gas doesn’t mean anything. Period.
No matter who you boycott it means nothing. Really. Why ? I shall tell you.
The world’s Oil Trade is Global in scope, and HIGHLY fungible meaning that the product is extremely inter-changeable.
As a fungible commodity , in practice it is traded, bought and sold interchangeably between all producers, suppliers, and distributors.
Crude Oil and Gasoline are both fungible.
Boycotts assume that the company being boycotted has no other recourse than the sales outlets being boycotted. Oil companies are not limited to their retail brand stores. They sell wholesale and retail to many outlets.
In other words “Oil is Oil” and “Gas is Gas” is the attitude all buyers and all sellers have.
If Shell or Citgo have declining retail sales at the pumps they will just sell the excess unsold output wholesale to another company. It will actually cause consumer prices to rise.
Oil and Gas Companies buy from their competaters all the time.
All of the time.
Besides the obviously problematic aspects of buying or not buying products for poorly articulated and understood political reasons, BP and Citgo, like ALL OIL COMPANIES trades product – rather promiscuously – with anyone with the cash to buy.
BP owns other Oil Companies which you may not be boycotting, in any case the company has thousands of Black managers on staff, and neither Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson, both of whose political grandstanding often irritates me, have stated anything about the hiring practices of other oil companies. Did they do any research into other companies?
Are they willing to financially assist the thousands of minority BP employees if their plans to “cripple” this gargantuan giant actually succeed? Which they won’t.
The profits on wholesale Oil are immense.
Take Oil’s FOB price at USD $80 per barrel. This is an upper end, Oil prices have ranged from 75-80 depending on country and port
One BBL of Oil = 42 Gallons. The Exon Valdez held 11 MILLION GALLONS OF OIL. 11,000,000 gall.. 261905 Barrels of Oil
261905 x $80 = $20,952,400
Just selling a small tanker load wholesale FOB is a $20.9 Million dollar sale.
Some producers, like India, trade 2 million barrels of Crude a DAY.
India’s NOT exactly a major player.
Many Oil sales WILL NOT BE FOB, they will be CIF with additional freight and insurance costs and profit margins. Add $2 – 3 MILLION on top of the price.
So just by Citgo selling a single wholesale a tanker full of Oil to, say, Shell who will blend this crude Oil with their own production, gross revenue is over $20 Mil.
Refine this and sell it as gasoline, wholesale, to smaller Oil Companies means additional profits.
If Citgo’s pump sales decline they will sell the excess gas to another company, retail “supply” will be limited due to fewer outlets, thus with less supply demand will rise and so will retail prices.
A few thousand, or even hundred thousand, US citizens piously not buying refined gas from Citgo stations dwarfs what they make wholesale. They don’t care because they are selling gas and oil to the people you are not boycotting.
While most Citgo gas comes from Venezuelan Crude MANY COMPANIES – Many American Companies at that – buy Crude Oil from Venezuela.
Gasoline refined by Citgo or Shell or BP may or may not come from Venezuelan crude Oil.
ALL OIL COMPANIES TRADE THEIR PRODUCT WITH EACH OTHER. Excess production is frequently traded on secondary markets, as for primary markets Traders at Commodity Exchanges sell to everyone and anyone.
THE GAS YOU BUY FROM YOUR PATRIOTIC AMERICAN OIL COMPANY MAY HAVE BEEN PRODUCED IN VENEZUELA, IRAN, ALASKA, CANADA, OR TEXAS.
You have NO way of knowing. The scale of the trading involves millions upon millions of barrels over short periods. Commodity exchanges trade millions of barrels a day.
All of this is so that in Cincinnati we can drive all over the bloody place because our public transport is shite… right ?
If you drive past BP’s Green pumps and go to a Shell station you may still be buying BP Gas.
Or you may be buying Russian or Iranian or North Seas gas.
You can’t know.
Remember Oil is HIGHLY FUNGIBLE – anyone and everyone can, will, and does purchase Crude Oil and refined gasoline, diesel, ship Bunker Fuel, and Fuel Oil, from ANYONE SELLING ON THE MARKET due to the pricing structure of the product and the way Oil markets work.
Shell buys from Gazprom who buys from a j/v partner in Iran who also sells to BP who in turn sells to Israel…
Some smaller gas companies buy all of their gasoline pre-refined from bigger producers from Physical Commodity Traders.
So your red-white-and blue American company could be putting Iranian Crude Oil mixed with Mexican Crude Oil mixed with Iraqi crude Oil mixed with Texas crude Oil in your tank.
Another thing: Citgo is headquartered in Texas and is a formerly American owned company. Same Employees.
So now you want to put your fellow American workers out of work because of politics ?
This too is problematic.
Some people called for Boycotting independent retail chains like 7-11 or Petro Express because they buy from Citgo or even were “fronts” for Citgo.
When both chains announced that they were dropping Citgo as a supplier people saw this as “proof that our boycott is working..”
The later claim is Blatantly incorrect – and as for the former claim – again remember – independent chains buy from anyone they can.
They frequently change suppliers all the time.
When a supply contract ends they simply find a supplier offering a better deal. They may add Citgo again in 2 years.
As for BP – 1,535, of its officials and managers in the United States in 2005 were minorities – 24 percent.
This includes 614 blacks. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton would economically harm them with their silly boycott IF the boycott had any effect, which it wouldn’t.
Thirty percent of BP’s new hires from universities from 2004-2006 were minorities.
As for Citgo – the amount of market penetration of this one brand is such that boycotts wouldn’t financially hurt it anyway. Their wholesale sales of product to companies you AREN’T boycotting is greater than the small amount of profits your not buying retail from them.
More-over IF VENEZUELA STOPPED SELLING OIL TO THE USA THEIR ALTERNATIVE BUYERS WOULD LINE UP TO BUY THEIR PRODUCTION.
We would have a VERY difficult time in the USA making up the shortfall. We buy massive amounts of oil from them because we have to. Period.
Does BP harm the environment? in some cases yes, in other cases no. BP actually has a better safety and environmental record in many areas than other companies. in other areas they are abysmal and horrid. Like EVERYONE ELSE.
I object to the generally CRAPPY environmental records of many Oil producers. HOWEVER boycotts do nothing. More substantial actions require, first, understanding the nature of the beast itself and substantial changes in consumer behavior.
“Give me conveyance, of give me death!” Eh?