BP: Boycotted Petroleum

Filling in for Dan Yorke, on Friday, Channel 10 reporter Gene Valicenti (another transplanted Jersey boy, by the way) took up the question of whether people feel it’s appropriate to boycott BP gas stations as a means of punishing the company for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Inasmuch as I was busy cutting seventy-two copes for massive crown molding in a coffered kitchen ceiling, I wasn’t able to offer my two cents on the air.
I find it highly unlikely that anybody engages in a full boycott of a particular gas station. Rather, people will look for alternatives to a greater or lesser degree based on their impressions of the company. Nobody’s going to walk or wait for AAA to bring a can of gasoline for an empty tank rather than pull in to a disliked station. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s probably rather easy to push people to pick one or the other competitors on the same intersection and with a price differential of a couple of cents.
Personally, BP’s pretentious environmentalish advertising had turned me off enough to engage in a boycott of the most mild sort (milder than my avoidance of dictator Chavez’s Citgo stations) even before oil began to flow toward our southern coast. Increasing the intensity of my wallet-vote statement wasn’t something that I’d considered, but I don’t think it’s an irrational decision for people to make.
Valicenti suggested that a boycott would only hurt the local store owner, but look, there has to be a consumer consequence for big companies. We’ve already got the federal government bailing out corporations that have gained a substantial claim on our economy; allowing companies to hide behind their employees and franchisees when they mess up would further undermine the very mechanism that makes capitalism a system for efficiency and quality. If a company like BP needn’t fear consumer backlash, then it really will become solely the role of governments to impose penalties.
That ties in with a secondary argument that Valicenti put forward — namely, that boycotting BP would do no good, because the company would just move its product elsewhere. That’s baloney on its face. That the company spends so much on developing and disseminating marketing materials in the Rhode Island market (for example) proves that it is very interested in ensuring that Rhode Islanders think well of it. The executives know that gas stations compete on the basis of mere pennies and that even something as superficial as dislike of a corporate logo can make the difference in consumer choices. Clearly, their response to pervasive anger at their brand is not something that they would brush aside.
To boycott or not to boycott BP is not a question in which I’m inclined to invest much passion. It’s a matter of practicality and preference. By contrast, striving to argue against a boycott on philosophical or structural grounds could actually do harm to our economic and political system.

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Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

I think you are correct – oil is pretty much oil. If a company cannot sell it under their brand name, they can easily sell it in bulk to another company – not much of a price difference.
As to Chavez and trying to suss out the “green” oil companies, I think that is fruitless. If we looked closely, I suspect that MORE of Chavez profits are going to poor people (in his country, and even ours since he gives the poor here heating oil) as compared to, for instance, Lukoil which is Russian Oligarch oil. Shell is responsible for horrible human rights abuses and environmental catastrophe in Nigeria. Mexican oil….our biggest supplier…is, well, Mexico! The government there is organized crime, but more violent.
It turns out that most oil is “blood oil” in one way or another, and the real solution is not only to use less, but to support policies which:
1. Make sure we pay the actual price that the oil is costing – that means taxes…….instead of externalizing (moving elsewhere) the costs.
2. Make certain we, as a country, implement as many policies as possible which will serve to allow us to use less.
BTW, in terms of “which oil did I buy”, I think a lot of oil goes into one end of a pipeline or into tank farms and then the owner or buyer gets the same from the other end, even if it is not the exact same oil. In other words, you really can’t trace your gasoline without doing some research.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

Yes, a state-run economy in Venezeula under Chavez is leading to the same kinds of workers’ paradise that it always does…

A day after the Central Bank reported Venezuela’s recession has deepened, President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that it’s a natural part of transforming the country from a capitalist to a socialist economy.

“The economy that’s falling in Venezuela is the capitalist economy,” Chavez said in a televised speech, referring to the bank’s report that the economy shrank 5.8 percent in the first quarter after a 3.3 percent contraction lasts year…

The oil-exporting country remains largely reliant on imported food and manufactured goods. Economists say government price controls and currency exchange controls have contributed to shortages of some foods.

Shopper Josefina Perez, a 74-year-old retiree, complained that the Caracas market she visited Wednesday didn’t have sugar, butter or fat-free milk — so she has to turn to street vendors who charge “sky-high” prices.

“There are many things that can’t be found, like sugar, vegetable oil, butter, corn meal,” said another shopper, Joselina Santeliz, a 60-year-old teacher who said she is forced to buy other items instead to make do.

A Central Bank survey in April found shortages of basic food items at more than 14 percent of supermarkets and other sellers visited, a slight rise from 13 percent the previous month.

Chavez’s government has nationalized food companies along with others in sectors from electricity to steel. The government now controls 75 percent of coffee production, 52 percent of sugar, 42 percent of corn meal and 40 percent of rice.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Andrew, once again you spew out your “proof” without even being asked the question!
Please read my post again. All I said was that I suspect more of the revenues are going to average (poor) people than Russian oil or Mexican oil.
We can have another discussion, if you like, on whether Russia or Mexico or Nigeria is better or worse (in total) than Venezuela.
Life expectancy, income distribution, GDP and other factors such as infant mortality are equal or better..or at minimum in the ball park in Venezuela than in Nigeria, Mexico or Russia….just for starters.
But that is a separate point. Other than the fact that you don’t like Chavez, I see little reason why one would be happy buying Mexican or Nigerian oil….and be unhappy with Citgo.
Perhaps you prefer Saudi crude? They cut off hands and heads, keep women from the workplace and finance fundamentalist training all over the globe.
So, Andrew, which oil do YOU prefer? I’d love for you to do the research and help us all out.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

You left the quadrupling of the homicide rate and the electricity and the water shortages under Chavez off of your list of indicators of how to determine a socialist paradise. (A net energy exporter has electricity shortages? Real quality governance there.) Though to be fair, there are areas of Mexico where the murder rate is as bad a Caracas.
I’d prefer not to have to do business with a feudal monarchy like Saudi Arabia. The difference for this discussion, of course, is that I don’t consider the Saudi government to be a model of anything, whereas you are praising Hugo Chavez’s state-run economy as having some advantages. Of course, the economics of a 30% inflation rate and basic food shortages (as well as the increase in homicide rate) and their impact on the poor don’t seem to factor in to your consideration of the advantages of Venezuelan socialism.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

But Andrew,
You often carp about Chavez. Go over your postings and You’ll find many excoriating the Venezuelan government.
I can’t recall one which lambastes Saudi, not in tone, and certainly not with any frequency.
It is obvious that your judgment is blindly prejudiced by your politics.
I’m with Stuart here.
OldTimeLefty

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Sounds like Andrew has concern when a government even says (whether true or not) that they care about their population.
Andrew, please point out where in the post I was praising the government of Venezuela. You could find 100 stats that show things are better there since Chavez took over, and 100 stats that say things are worse – the truth is probably somewhere in between.
Ah, so it’s OK to buy from the Saudis since we know beyond a doubt that they suck? Andrew, surely you have to laugh at yourself for coming up with that one…..talk about moral relativity!
Again, my point is that it is silly exercise to attempt to rate most of the folks we are doing business with.
Here is the list of our top sources of oil – Canada is #1, so we probably don’t mind that.
After that comes:
Saudi Arabia
Mexico
Venezuela
Nigeria
Algeria
Angola
Iraq
Russia
Now, you are honestly going to tell us you can rate Venezuela as the worst of those places…..with a straight face?
I didn’t think so. Save your venom for another post with some relationship to what you are ranting about.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I notice the Chavez apologist attitude is in full force on this thread. Let’s see-if there are two stores selling the same product at comparable prices and both are owned by miserable people-would you shop at the one where they just exchange the product for cash,or the one where the owner gratuituously excoriates you whenever you come in? Chavez excites left wingers here because he hates the US.The man is a close ally of Ahmedinajad and depends on useful idiots from this country to enhance his image. The other day I saw Oliver Stone and Jesse Ventura on a show with a Republican congressman debating Chavez’ rule in Venezuela.Stone had just done a highly laudatory documentary on Chavez and other leftist heads of state in Latin America.He was trying to convince the congressman that Chavez allowed the greatest freedom of expression possible. That’s ridiculous,but Stone,a talented film maker has always depicted history based on his personal opinion. Ventura is someone I’ve always respected and liked,but he sounded bizarre and extremely angry defending Chavez. He was screaming at the congressman how he and Stone were war veterans and the congressman wasn’t.That might have been relevant in a discussion of war/defense policy.etc.,but not in this particular discussion. Some of Stone’s films such as “Heaven and Earth”,”Wall Street”,”U-Turn”,and “Nixon”were excellent,and all his films had good production values,but he invents history as he goes along.Too bad. I also don’t get Sean Penn’s infatuation with every anti-American demagogue in the world.He’s a good actor,but deranged about politics. Danny Glover isn’t even that good an actor,and he also worships Chavez. I recall Maria Conchita Alonzo,who is actually Venezuelan,making the point that Chavez is using gullible “celebrities”to depict Venezuela as a happy place when in fact the people there are controlled by government induced fear and live… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Well, one has to remember that Reagan and the right in the US supported the Death Squads and the priest and nun killers and rapists in Central American when they fought against the Democratically elected “left” government there!
When you keep that in mind, it’s not hard to understand Andrew and Joe rants.
As to the crimes of the Contras, which…again, the right and Reagan supported, see if you can come up with equivalents to these:
targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination.
kidnapping civilians.
torturing civilians.
executing civilians, including children, who were captured in combat.
raping women.
indiscriminately attacking civilians and civilian houses.
seizing civilian property.
burning civilian houses in captured towns
Contra rebels committed these atrocities against Sandinista prisoners after a battle at a Sandinista rural outpost:
Rosa had her breasts cut off. Then they cut into her chest and took out her heart. The men had their arms broken, their testicles cut off. They were killed by slitting their throats and pulling the tongue out through the slit.”
Yep, Joe and Andrew – good ole Rightie Reagan. He knew how to stick it to the left…….right?

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

The idea of cheering for Chavez or any other violent, corrupt thug-dictator on the basis of a completely evidence-free surmising that “more” of his Statist revenue goes to the poor than that of other countries led by violent, corrupt thug-dictators demonstrates the hypocrisy of Leftist “situational ethics” and moral relativism. Chavez is supported because his propaganda campaign talks about “helping the people”, although he has directly caused more human suffering in Venezuela than all of that country’s previous governments combined?
As I have said many times, Leftism must collapse because it is made up a web of internal contradictions on a foundation of false beliefs, grounded in a failure to understand human nature. Its architect falsely proclaims that he is designing a society of equality for all, when he really means equality of misery for all except himself and his cronies, who luxuriate while forcing everyone else to do his bidding.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Stuart talks about rants and then goes on a complete non-sequitir rant.
He never addressed Venezuela or Stone or any of what I said.
I don’t recall mentioning Central America.
Stuart vomits the same swill as the communists did in the Fifties about how the “duly elected”Arbenz government was overthrown.The Cold War was serious stuff.I can’t help it if people like Stuart took sides against the country they happened to be born in.
I am not sure Central America,except for Costa Rica,will ever be a normal place.
Stuart and his deceitful “equivalences”
People like Stuart were supporters of communist artrocities the world over in the name of “anti-fascism”.I’m thinking of Eastern Europe,China,Cambodia,and othe communist nirvanas.
A lot of dead innocents there too.
We can play this silly game all day,but what you can’t do Stuart is ever give a straight answer.Always the “party line”.
C’mon Stuart-show me a war without atrocities.
I don’t think I mentioned Reagan at all-but since Stuart brought him up-he was head and shoulders above this arrogant,thin skinned fool in the White House today.Obama sucks.Chavez sucks.The left wing in this country and everywhere else sucks.
Stuart really needs to move on to a socialist paradise where he can live in a squalid concrete block tenement with communal toilets.Oh,wait.Stuie never served in the military so he almost missed that experience.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

Stuart,
I don’t really see that it’s a rant to point out that people of Venezuela have had reduced access to such necessities as electricity and clean water and are suffering from a general economic catastrophe and the accompanying social breakdown, in response to a remark that state management of the oil sector of the economy has been a plus to poor people under Chavez. And I don’t think the fact we buy oil from Saudi Arabia implies that their domestic system of government is more or less preferable to any other government we buy oil from (and during the Bush administration, we weren’t afraid to register objections about the Saudis, at least rhetorically. I haven’t been able to find anything similar from the Obama administration).
I certainly wouldn’t be one to imply there’s some good points along with the bad to a Saudi-style feudal monarchy, as you seem to have just said about of Venezuela’s hard-socialism. But please, for those of us who are unaware of the advantages, tell us what the people of Venezuela have gotten in return for the bad points of a quadrupling of the homicide rate, food shortages, hyperinflation, a reduction in access to electricity and clean water, suppression of political activity and suppression of the free press, all which are the predictable outcomes of socialist economics and governance.

rhody
rhody
11 years ago

It’s a calculation we all make at the pump. As for owners of BP stations, they’re caught in something they have no control over – many of them were Gettys last year before yet another corporate takeover.
I don’t waste time getting too exorcised over Chavez – he’s no better, no worse than most of the other dictators/heads of state of countries we buy oil from. I’d like to see people get just as upset about the Putin regime – the oligarchy, the reporters who are murdered, the armed invasions of provinces, etc. I’ve dealt with Hugos all my life – guys whose mouths run a little faster than their common sense.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Andrew, it is a real stretch to imagine that you, or for that matter most on the American right, really care about the peasant in Venezuela, while remaining mum on the Saudis, Nigerian, Mexicans and all the other oil suppliers…….. The US has implemented policy in Cuba, Iraq and various other places….which for decades has affected the peasants (poor) MUCH MORE than it has affected their leaders. I doubt you rallied against all these policies. I think Joe Barton pretty much speaks for the Republican party – at least he was honest! They care about the oil and about the upper classes of society and those who do their bidding – period. If Justin writes a long rant on the crimes of Chavez, we can certainly all do our research and compare notes, but the thread concerns the idea of where these countries (our top 10 suppliers, for discussion sake) stand as far as morality, ethics and our ideal of depubican or democratic (small d and r) forms of government…by and for the people. So, in order to have even a tiny bit of cred, one has to decide which of those ten are more favorable, and which might not be. Personally, I would rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being the best) like this. Let’s hear your thoughts….. Canada 10 Saudi Arabia 1 Mexico 2 Venezuela 3 Nigeria 1 Algeria 3 Angola 2 Iraq (we occupy them, so hard to rate) Russia 3 BTW, I combed through a bunch of data – corruption ratings, judicial shenanigans, election fraud, human rights, environment, etc……and there is not a vast difference between many of the “bad” countries above. Some are bad in certain ways, others score poorly in different ways. For instance, the middle east and N. Africa… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

As an aside, Andrew and Joe, you are probably accessing this page with the equipment that you purchased and financed- both in your home and in the network – from COMMUNIST CHINA.
Look at all your electronics and tools – and clothes.
Are we to assume that you something think taking a stand against Venezuela is somehow “right”, yet financing a one party COMMUNIST state is 100% OK? No sane person could make such an argument.
Let’s admit it. As my dad used to say, we are all whores, it’s just the prices that change.
It’s laughable that someone could think that not stopping in BP, Exxon or Citgo station makes a real political or economic statement.
On the other hand, if you wanna wear a loincloth like Ghandi, I might listen a little more closely.
Oh, thou hypocrites!

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

“Oh,thou hypocrites” is getting REAL old.
Who in the hell left you as the moral arbiter in the world?
I’m sure I own a lot of stuff made in China.I had NO part in exporting American industry,because unlike you I only invested in US Government and municipal securities and CD’s in American owned banks.
Hypocrite up your culo boy.

mangeek
mangeek
11 years ago

As far as I understand it, it doesn’t matter if BP stations are boycotted one way or another.
First reason is that all the oil is filtered through commodity futures markets, I don’t think the oil at an Exxon, Citgo, BP, or Shell station is actually from their wells, per-se. The stations might be branded a particular way, but you’ll notice that the distribution is often handled by the same companies. There are several layers of abstraction between the well and your wallet, and I’m not sure a ‘BP’ pump is any more likely to be fed by a ‘BP’ well than a ‘Citgo’ pump is.
Also, the gas that gets pumped at stations into consumers’ vehicles is only a part of the total product produced. I’ll bet BP could go on as a profitable company if nobody in America ever bought another gallon of retail gas from them.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Mangeek,
Prima facie, if BP invests in the development of its brand, then taking actions to punish same will be of concern to the company.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

Stuart, given how bitter you become when regular people band together locally for a little peaceful political protest, and how your are willing to dismiss a quadrupling of the homicide rate and political repression as items that are balanced out by other “stats”, there’s really no basis for you to claim any understanding of what motivates or what’s important to people, in their interactions with their surrounding communities.
The hypocrites in this discussion are the ones who believe its worth trading away freedom for enlightened leaders who will make “politically difficult but critically important policies” — that’s a direct quote from Thomas Friedman of the New York Times discussing China — as long as it’s someone else’s freedom that’s at stake. I think that Friedman is wholly cracked on this subject (as do many conservatives) and that American foreign policy should involve doing what it can to encourage repressive forms of government to become less repressive and more democratic, whether oppression is being delivered in the form of a feudal monarchy, a war lord with formal legal standing, a basic authoritarian regime, a totalitarian socialist, etc. Since your position keeps changing, I’m still not quite sure if you believe totalitarian socialists should get a pass here and whether the results of Chavez’s rule in Venezuela (increased homicide, political and media repression, food shortages, hyperinflation, reduced access to electricity and water) are the result of the “politically difficult but critically important policies” needed to bring about a better a society in the long run.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Andrew-don’t you get it yet?Stuart is NEVER wrong even though he gets his stories a little mixed up sometimes.
Stuart acts like he’s doing us poor,benighted conservatives a favor by deigning to provide us with “enlightenment”.
Like most left wing crap artists,he’s unable to give specific answers when it’s inconvenient.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Pardon me, Andrew – I’m still trying to sort out why you “approve” of not boycotting the Saudis, yet would boycott Citgo……and why you now seem to think we are “spreading democracy” by allowing China to foul their water and air so we can have cheaper products.
I’m a bit slow, but hopefully I’ll get there. I would hate to assume your views have something to do with what is most convenient as opposed to actual consistency.
Throughout your rants, please remember that it was my view that ALL these things are difficult to sort out, while you and some others seem to suggest it is very clear that:
China is good.
Saudis are Good.
Nigeria and Iraq are good.
Mexico in good.
Venezuela is bad.
It is about as clear as drilling mud to me! Perhaps you could share your formula for figuring out whether a particular country is worth boycotting?
My position does not change at all. I suggested that it is of little use boycotting anything – and that if we want to help these problems in the long run, we would support initiatives for using less oil…….
I remember years ago when the crazies said we could hurt Exxon and ALL the oil companies by not buying gas on tuesdays….or something like that. Apparently these Americans do not understand math nor energy.
Want to save some energy? Here is one I thought up. Assuming you drive by a lot of gas stations anyway, only fill up your tank 1/2 each time. You will therefore get better MPG because the car is lighter…….
🙂

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

BTW, Andrew, here is just one bit of todays news from the Country you don’t think we should boycott….you know, the one where the 9/11 hijackers came from!
————
RIYADH — Judicial officials say a Saudi court has convicted four women and 11 men for mingling at a party and sentenced them to flogging and prison terms.
The men, who are between 30 and 40 years old, and three of the women, who are under the age of 30, were sentenced to an unspecified number of lashes and one or two year prison terms each
————————-
In your ultimate wisdom, you have somehow decided that Chavez giving cheap heating oil to the poor in New England is worse than this place!
Amazing…..mind boggling! I at least can admit that virtually all of these countries, other than Canada, represent the great compromise that we accept because we enjoy our addiction to waste.
It would be nice for you to take a consistent stand, as opposed to just rallying against those horrible Lefty Socialists….simply it fits nicely into the small box of your world view.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

Stuart, your inability to process basic information that conflicts with your odd ideology is reaching new heights. I don’t think that doing business with China implies that we approve of their form of government, or by itself does anything to change their form of government. I do think that over the long term, American foreign policy should work towards encouraging the Chinese government to become less oppressive and more democratic. I don’t think that doing business with Saudi Arabia implies that we approve of their form of government, or by itself does anything to change their form of government. I do think that over the long term, American foreign policy should work towards encouraging the Saudi government to become less oppressive and more democratic. I don’t think that doing business with Venezuela implies that we approve of their form of government, or by itself does anything to change their form of government. I do think that over the long term, American foreign policy should work towards encouraging the Venezuelan government to become less oppressive and more democratic. I’ve been saying that all through this thread. I’m pretty sure you agree with me on Saudi Arabia, but not sure about China or Venezuela — especially since the list of countries you posted two comments back seems to be a mirror image of a special-exceptions-for-totalitarian-socialism view of the world that you seem to hold, and not related to anything I’ve said. And you should be a little less cavalier about saying that giving away a few gallons of heating oil balances out large scale political repression and violence. I’m sure the Saudis have made some big charitable contributions too, but I for one wouldn’t say that paying a few dollars to the outside world compensates for repressive domestic governance. But then, I’m… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

OK, Andrew, then we agree that the idea of boycotting one of these countries is pretty silly stuff? On the reverse end, I would not intentionally support Citgo either, because IMHO they are no better or worse than any of the others….or, more accurately, I have not visited there or studied them extensively so I just don’t know. I suspect they are better than most Banana and Oil republics (in terms of wealth filtering to millions instead of a dozen), but much worse than our ideals (which we ourselves fail to meet!).
Again, I think the big picture of behavior and policies to rid ourselves of waste…represents the best actual actions we can take.
On ANY scale, Venezuela is more democratic than Saudi Arabia…..not even close there!
Here is a link to one such measurement:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index
Venezuela is #95
Saudi Arabis is #161- really the worst in the world or close to it.
China is #136
Nigeria #124
Iraq #116
Russia #107
So it appears my point stands. If Democracy is what one cares about, Venezuela appears to offer it as well or better than our other suppliers!
Mexico beats them out, though!

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

BTW, Joe, Nixon WAS a great movie!
But the GW Bush movie sucked. I don’t know whether to blame that on Stone or on the lack of subject and brain matter. After all, a movie about a hollow person…..can only be hollow.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Thanks,Stuie-at last you’re beginning to realize I’m not a victim of doctrinaire thinking.I spent so much of my life in situations where there was no freedom of expression(my call so no complaint)that nowadays I really hate the idea of some soft “intellectual”telling me how I have to live.
I will never discount a person’s worth as a creative individual even if I think they’re a complete POS.It’s not like I could ever be creative.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Funny thing about Nixon…..he’s starting to look a lot better to me, especially compared to GW and much of the current crew of Palin and friends…….
Sure, he was nuts. At the same time, he started the EPA and did a LOT of other things which most righties would be complaining about these days.
Unfortunately, that shows how far right we have swung……..now a rightie has to be like Joe Barton or Palin to get any traction.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Nixon also sealed the southern border to counter drug smuggling.Illegal immigration was not a major problem then.It was more like seasonal migrant labor.People went back after the harvest.Not anymore.
And Nixon inherited Vietnam.The first time I ever voted was by absentee ballot from Nam in 1968 and the war was really intense at that time.

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