Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My newest crusade
Not that I had an "old" crusade. So maybe this should just be called "crusade".

I am seriously unhappy about the gas prices. SERIOUSLY UNHAPPY. The whole thing is ridiculous. El MOL shares my sentiments. It's just going to be a really long, really expensive summer at the pump.


Case in point. The average person in a car does not make $48.5 million dollars in a year, and will not retire with another $98.5 million on top of that. But according to this article, someone does earn that much money. Check this quote:

“The former CEO of Exxon-Mobil just received a retirement check for $98.5 million after earning a $48.5 million salary last year," said Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill). "At the same time, Americans have to dig deeper and deeper into their pockets to fuel their cars just to get to work. It's outrageous, and our government needs to get some answers from the oil companies.”

So I'm thinking, raising gas prices to $3 or $4 a gallon really isn't bothering this guy on his drive to work everyday, especially considering he is retired and doesn't have to drive to work anymore.

And then I thought, maybe these oil company CEOs just don't realize how much they make in comparison to the average person in a car. And maybe they don't realize how much these rising gas prices hurt us, everyday, just trying to get around our lives.

For instance, according to DallasGasPrices.com, last year at this time, the average gas price was $2.12 a gallon. Even that price is outrageous, but compared to today I'd gladly pay $2.12. At 15 gallons to fill up the Jeep, last April I paid around $32 to fill up.

Today at $3 a gallon, it costs $45 to fill the tank. And they say prices will continue to go up. So, say we reach $3.50 or even $4.00 this summer, I could be paying $60 to fill up the Jeep, which is almost TWICE as much as I paid to fill up last year. And thinking even further back, when I bought the Jeep in 2002, I could fill up for $25 or less.

Now, am I also making TWICE as much money as I made last year? Um, no. Definitely not. Am I having to drive less to make the money I do make at about the same rate?

Um again, no. I'm driving the same, if not more, just to pay the bills. And now I'm having to pay a whole lot more to get there.

Now, some people say the answer to the whole gas price ridiculousness is to stop buying gas from the large oil companies, or stop driving as much, carpool, or get a more fuel-efficient car. All of these are good ideas. But for me, none of them are practical. I carpool when I can. But in reality, none of these things are truly going to bring gas prices down on a large-scale, nationwide scope to ease the suffering of Americans everywhere.

We are at the mercy of the oil people, and we should not have to DRIVE LESS to afford a tank of gas.

So, here is my new crusade. Or just "crusade", if you will.

First, my day job involves mail. Lots of mail. I work in direct mail fundraising, which means I am trained to create mail that encourages money out of people for good causes. I do this everyday.

Next, everyone has seen Shawshank Redemption, right? Remember the part when Andy writes a letter a week to some legislator, asking for funds for a library. He does this for years. And finally, he is rewarded with tons of books and a check, and a request to please stop writing so many letters.

It took a long time, but he got more than what he asked for.

Well, I am borrowing from Andy and I'm about to do the same thing, for as long as it takes. Or until I get bored. Whichever comes first.

Meet Rex W. Tillerson:

He is the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation. And he's about to start getting a whole lot of mail from me.

According to the LA Times, Rex got a raise last year of 33%. He now makes $13 million a year, including salary, stock stuff, yada yada. All of it.

Now, I don't make anywhere near $13 million. In my entire lifetime, I will likely never see $1 million, much less $13 million. And my wee raise last year was closer to 33 dollars than 33 percent. So the way I figure it, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me that with every tank of gas that I put in the Jeep at constantly increasing prices, this guy is making more money, while I am having less money.

But, I realize that Rex is not responsible for the entire situation as it is today. I know that writing him a letter a week will not actually change gas prices.

So, what I am asking for is help FOR ME. I'm sorry, but you people are on your own. It's something small and reasonable for a man worth millions, yet something big and helpful to an average car driver like me.

I figure that at $45 a tank, filling up (on average) 5 times a month, I'll be spending an extra $65 per month on gas over the next year, compared to what I would have paid at about this time last year ($2.12 a gallon). Over 12 months that is $780.

Of course, that's betting that gas will not rise above $3 a gallon, and would stay just at $3 a gallon for the next 12 months. If it reaches $3.50, that amount increases to as much as $1,230 more I will be paying for gas over the next year. And should gas hit $4 per gallon, I will be paying as much as $1,680 more over the next 12 months than if gas stayed around $2.12 as it was a year ago.


Including the cost of one stamp per week for the next year (I will throw in the paper and envelopes for free), that comes to right at potentially $1,700 that Rex and people like him at other big oil companies will cost me over the next 12 months for doing nothing other than driving per my usual driving habits. That doesn't even count an occasional roadtrip or any out of the ordinary driving that might happen over the course of a 12 month period.

So, my weekly letter to Rex will be simple. I will recognize that he cannot solve these horrendous gas prices on his own, and that I am not expecting my one letter to cause a revolution, or to cost his company any money. I am sure Rex is doing the best job he can at effectively running his company, at searching for alternative fuel sources, and looking for ways to ease consumer prices at the pump as soon as possible. At $13 million this year, I know he is worth every penny for a job well done.

But, if he could just find enough loose change in his couch cushions, or if he has just a bit of extra cash lying around that he could send to help me out at about $1,700 towards covering an increase in my personal gas expenses over the next year, that would be a big help.

And I would even buy all of my gas from Exxon, just to show him no hard feelings.

Thank you, Andy Dufrane. You are my inspiration.


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