Conundrum Demystified


If you recall, in last month’s editorial I was mystified by a conundrum. While ExxonMobil was enjoying record profits for two straight years (in 2005 it had accrued more profits than any US company as the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company), most Americans were pulling in their belts more than just a notch or two. Was I interpreting the data correctly?

Early in the morning on January 30 when I initially heard the news of ExxonMobil’s unparalleled success, I was pleased to hear a company so well known in our industry could achieve such a remarkable achievement.

But as the day wore on, I started to wonder whether wearing three layers of clothing to stay warm and lowering my thermostat to 69 deg F was a fair trade-off for its triumph. Many in America, I noted, were pulling in their belts way more than a notch or two.

Well, I have some good news for those interested in this subject. I’m down to wearing just one layer of clothing as I write my editorial from my well-insulated 1930-ish Chicago bungalow. No, the temperature outside didn’t improve. In fact Chicago actually dipped into the sub-zero temps over the weekend. So what accounts for my ability to discard a few layers from my bungalow haute couture?

Believe it or not, a converted product came to my rescue! If someone can market this idea properly, I’ll bet the makers of this dandy little product—along with the converters that make the packaging—will be right up there with ExxonMobil. It’s a thermal heatwrap, folks! (You know…of the ThermaCare type.) Just slap one or two of these wonderfully warm converted products around your neck or along your waist and bingo! You’ll be toasty the rest of the day. Then when nightfall comes, you can snuggle into your warm bed—with the help of your thermostatically controlled electric blanket, or you can slap on a new heatwrap!

Think what using this product will do for our industry! I really think I’m on to something! But maybe we should rename the product a “personal mobile heater.”

Other readers of last month’s column had their views on the conundrum:

…I know what’s wrong with this picture. They [left] out the “We’re fleecing the entire nation to make record profits, and somehow this is legal” part. They also don’t tell you how much of these profits they are re-investing into their infrastructure to improve long-term output (probably nothing), nor do they admit that the high energy costs have little or nothing to do with natural disasters, current per-barrel crude prices, China or India…. T. McClaughry

…The entire country, maybe the world, has been raped repeatedly by the oil companies whose only interest is their bottom line, their executives’ outlandish bonuses, and expense accounts that could provide food and water to many third world countries for a year…. E. Rabinowitz

The head is not thick and the picture is not blurry once the “rest of the story” is told. The gross margin of ExxonMobil is about 19% while the other industries such as chips and software are north of 40% at my last recall or check on Dell or Microsoft’s margins…. G. Upton
The conundrum has been demystified. End of story.

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