Portney’s Complaint

Portneys Complaint

Portney’s Complaint

Devon Portney

With everything happening in the Middle East and gas prices once again on the rise, we tend to forget the supporting cast that plays a role in our economy. While it looks as though this war will continue forever, or at least through the rest of Bush’s presidency, the oil companies have refused to do anything to alleviate the financial pain we all feel (and believe me, they are not feeling any pains, financial or other). While most of us simply grumble to ourselves at the gas pumps, many people are too cold to grumble, and are hovering under whatever blankets they own in their unheated homes.

For several years, but this past winter in particular, where the cold has been especially harsh, many people have not been able to afford the oil necessary to heat their homes. Joe Kennedy and the Citizens Energy Corporation have been working with Latin American countries for almost 30 years to bring affordable heating oil to low-income households. In February, US Representative Chaka Fattah initiated Citgo’s delivery of 5 million gallons of oil at a 40 percent discount to families in need in Philadelphia. In this recent plea by congressmen for cheaper oil for their constituents, Citgo, Venezuela’s oil company has been the only one willing to help.

The Bush administration has been critical of this discounted oil exchange primarily because Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, is very anti-Bush and has often spoken out against US foreign policy. Although many in Venezuela feel Chavez is too much of a left-wing radical, most respect and admire him. Pushing towards a socialist democracy (which is such a loaded term I’ll save it for another day), Chavez has started the Bolivarian Missions, a domestic project which says it is dedicated to battling disease, poverty and other social injustices.

Whether you agree with Chavez’s politics or not, the fact is he’s responsible for helping thousands of freezing cold families in the Northeast, and he’s a savvy politician as well. His goodwill gesture, selling oil at a bargain to poor families, places him above criticism. This particular venture is a brilliant way for Chavez to gain exposure and support, while continuing to throw it in Bush’s face. Bush is not upset that Venezuela is selling us oil- the US already buys millions of barrels from them each day, although that’s nothing in comparison to what we get from the Middle East every day. The reason Bush is upset is because Venezuela is selling the oil cheaply to low-income households, and this will create sympathy and respect for a staunch, outspoken Bush critic. Chavez also often denounces US foreign policy, which currently is focused on oil. Whether the government admits this or not, it’s the truth. Wars are not waged if the country holds no US interests. Otherwise we’d be in Darfur instead of Iraq.

Chavez might not be the sympathetic man he makes himself out to be. Perhaps this whole discounted oil sale is just a way to manipulate the US and Chavez’s own image. Maybe he only has his own interests in mind. But the oil companies that refused to come forward to help people because they couldn’t bear to sell oil at a discount, even though they’ve all experienced record profits in the years since the US invaded Iraq, they are the people who only have their own interests in mind.

If you or anyone you know can’t afford to heat their homes this winter, or for more information about alternative sources for oil, visit www.citizensenergy.com.