October 30, 2005

The Ubiquitous Blog Rant

Filed under: General — Cory @ 5:17 pm

This blog has thus far mostly been a way for me to highlight things that I find interesting. But, it is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. I feel it is time to comment on some of the absurdity around us.

Those Clever Oil Companies

Although it is not shocking news by any means, I was thrilled to learn that oil companies are reporting record profits. Some choice quotes from those articles:

  • Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, reported on Thursday that profit rose 75 percent from a earlier, to $9.92 billion. Revenue rose 31.9 percent, to $100.7 billion.
  • “Exxon made more than any other company, as a matter of fact,” says Howard Silverblatt, a market equity analyst with Standard & Poor’s. “Their profits by themselves were more than 492 companies made for the entire year within the S&P 500.”
  • ExxonMobil, which stunned Americans on Thursday by reporting nearly $10 billion in profit for the third quarter, says it has no plans to invest any of those earnings in developing alternative or renewable energy — something other oil companies do. “We’re an oil and gas company. In times past, when we tried to get into other businesses, we didn’t do it well. We’d rather re-invest in what we know,” says Exxon spokesman Dave Gardner.
  • “Our earnings are a function of how well we manage our business,” says the American Petroleum Institute’s chief economist, John Felmy. “We’re also producing record amounts of product, we’re selling record amounts and we cut our cost dramatically. So that really affects the bottom line as much as anything else.”

Record amounts of product? What happened to the rising costs being attributed to refinery limitations and shortages caused by the damage from the hurricanes?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for making money and the capitalist way, but these guys are in a unique position to screw just about everyone. Even Microsoft’s monopoly only extends to those who choose to use technology. A much larger percentage of the population is dependent upon their gas-powered automobiles to get to work, take the kids to soccer practice, and enjoy vacations. And considering the enormous backlog for alternative-energy powered vehicles in the U.S., most people do not have much of a choice.


Claritin D, Insurance Companies and the Government

I got a prescription for Claritin D back when it was first introduced several years ago. It’s been the only thing that even comes close to helping with my allergies. I paid the co-pay ($20) and had a months work of allergy relief. The problem was that the drug was so effective for so many people, that everyone wanted it. Well, the insurance industry decided that this was no good, since they were actually having to pay the rest of the bill. So, they lobbied and pretty soon the drug was available over-the-counter. This is great news, except that the price is $13 for 10 pills, or around $40 for a months supply. This doubled the cost of the prescription for me, but at least I could buy enough in bulk from Sam’s Club to avoid thinking about it for a couple months.

Well, a month or two ago I went to Sam’s to stock up and noticed that the drug was not available in the normal place. There was a card indicating that I needed to see a pharmacist in order to obtain any drug that contained pseudoephedrine. Huh? I thought over-the-counter meant it was available over the counter. As it turns out, Texas passed Senate Bill 107, House Bill 164 and Senate Bill 66 that place restrictions on the sale of products that contain pseudoephedrine (that second link has one of the best titles ever: “Don’t Meth With Texas”). Along with nearly 40 other states, Virginia recently also passed similar legislation.

While the intentions are noble, the effects are nothing more than annoying. I suspect people who produce (?) Methamphetamine are more clever than your average criminal, and I am pretty sure they will find a way to provide for their clients, since they have an addicted customer base, literally. I could be totally wrong here, as I have no insight into this market, but this situation reminds me of the NRA slogan “If guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns.” The point being that you can make something illegal, but that only affects those who care about the law in the first place.

So, I can no longer buy Claritin D when I am grocery shopping at 10pm on Sunday nights, because there is no pharmacist on duty. Also, I can no longer buy in bulk because the state law limits 2 packages per purchase. Why don’t we just make these drugs available only with a prescription? Oh, right, those pesky insurance companies. :)

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1 Comment »

  1. “I suspect people who produce (?) Methamphetamine are more clever than your average criminal”. Interesting that you should post that. Thanks to Edward De Bono I’m going to be annoying here…what do you consider a criminal? What do you consider an average criminal? What do you consider “clever”? Does it simply take breaking a low to become a criminal? Looting is illegal. Is someone who loots food and water in the wake of a natural disaster a criminal? Is someone who does something that is legal yet unethical a criminal? Blah…time to get back to work for me and stop ranting.

    Comment by Andrew — November 2, 2005 @ 11:58 am

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