Today, Microsoft came under fire from a number of activists:
Activists today accused Microsoft of spending all of its time focusing on software. "All they want to do is write code for operating systems and applications". Activists were complaining that Microsoft does not invest any of its huge profits into alternatives to software and operating systems. "They have not invested one dime in trying to come up with computing technologies that don't require operating systems or business applications." Activists also accused Microsoft of not investing in any alternative computational approaches, such as abacus research or mechanical calculators.
Makes no sense, right? Well, that's because I made it up. But I did not make this up, which is essentially the exact same charge, just against a different target:
other major oil companies that essentially acknowledge the very real
threat of global warming and the need to transition to renewable energy
and off of a finite, non-renewable resource such as oil, ExxonMobil is
using its profits and its power to continue to keep this country
addicted to oil, as President Bush has noted," Hoover said.
ExxonMobil cares only about drilling for more oil, Hoover alleged
You hear this stuff all the time. But why are the major oil companies responsible for investing to obsolete their own business? Why are they obligated to invest in things like wind farms or whatever that they know nothing about? Did we demand that railroads invest in aircraft research? Do we require cable companies to invest in DirectTV? For all of its size, ExxonMobil represents a tiny fraction of World GDP -- if all these alternative energy ideas are such great opportunities, let the other 99.99% of the world economy take it on. Besides, do these guys who think that XOM is evil incarnate really want them controlling the next generation of energy production?
By the way, I thought this was hilarious:
believe that ExxonMobil -- primarily through its former president and
CEO, Lee Raymond -- has been involved in conceiving of and then
promoting the invasion and occupation of Iraq," Reed said. "When the
Iraq war was being cooked up, we think ExxonMobil was in the kitchen."
I love the "we believe" part. I am sure that half these folks also "believe" that aliens are alive and well in Area 51 and that George Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks. Would it be too much to ask to bring some facts to the table? Or how about even a motive? I could maybe come up with a motive if the US invaded Nigeria, since Exxon has assets at risk there that are threatened by rebels and general chaos, but Iraq? Since Iraq's output was limited before the invasion, invading Iraq only served to put more oil on world markets, which would depress rather than raise prices and profits. In fact, if there was really an evil genius oil company pulling the strings of government to maximize their own profits, UN-sanctioned Iraq would be just about the last oil producing country in the world you would want your government puppets to invade.
Today XOM has its annual shareholder meeting, and if you ever want to see a great parade of barking moonbats, buy yourself a share of XOM and attend. Lee Raymond caught a lot of grief for his compensation package, and it did seem overly generous to me, but I am not an XOM shareholder right now so its not my concern. I will say that having seen one of the XOM shareholder meetings and the ridiculous grief the CEO must endure for a day, my guess is that the XOM CEO would likely knock several million dollars off his comp. package if he could call in sick today.