Leading Off

1. A Farmers Branch attorney is in trouble for saying that guessing the number of Hispanic voters in the city is like estimating “the number of beans in jar.” He later apologized, saying that he didn’t know “beaner” was a derogatory term for Hispanics, noting that he should have memorized Chong’s improvised song from Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (the one following Cheech’s smash “Mexican-Americans”) titled “Beaners.”

2. Crime around White Rock Lake fell 3 percent last year, but police note that car thefts would decrease if folks realized they shouldn’t leave their keys in the car just because they don’t want to carry them while they jog. Not making that up.

3. Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp. posts the biggest annual and quarterly profits by a U.S. company, breaking the record it held. Insert your own sad, poor, plebian, insignificant, working-for-the-man-till-you-die joke here.

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Comments

58 responses to “Leading Off”

  1. Anonymouse says:

    Screw the joke. Where can I apply to start working for *that* man?

  2. Cook says:

    To hell with the apology. Stand for yourself and quit cow-towing to the PC police!

  3. DM says:

    That’s a profit of about $2,600 a second and I could really use about 14 seconds right now…

  4. fruitdog says:

    Hell, I’d be happy with half a second.

  5. SB says:

    With the economy in the shape that it’s in, does it help when one company hoards 41 billion dollars in cash in its coffers? You know none of that money is getting passed on to the employee base. Just think if the average Exxon employees were given rewarded heavily with those profits, how much that would benefit the economy. You’d have 30,000 people out spending their new found wealth, and totally energizing their local (especially DFW) economies. Instead that money will sit somewhere with the other 100 billion dollars that Exxon has bilked the American consumer out of over the last few years.

  6. Don in Austin says:

    Plenty of $ for lawyers and judges so they don’t have to pay fishermen. I’m still boycotting and Exxon is still suffering because of that…

  7. dano says:

    Yeah…

    $41 “B”illion in profits…

    They sure are suffering Don.

  8. Trey Garrison says:

    “With the economy in the shape that it’s in, does it help when one company hoards 41 billion dollars in cash in its coffers?”

    You don’t really understand much about how business works, do you?

  9. SB says:

    I know enough to know that the employees of Exxon Mobil, other than the executives, won’t see one penny of that windfall.

  10. Trey Garrison says:

    Yeah, you’re right. Very unlikely any of the employees own any stock in the company.

  11. SB says:

    I’m talking about immediately. They shouldn’t have to sell off their retirement stocks to benefit from their hard work. Why can’t Exxon take $200 million dollars and re-distribute it amongst their employees in the form of bonuses? A way to say “thank you for your hard work. We recognize that you help make these profits happen.” Why is that in order to consider yourself a capitalist, you have to forget about the little guy?

    Then again, who can run a business on only 9.8 billion dollars in 4th quarter profit instead of 10 billion?

  12. Trey Garrison says:

    The effect on shareholders — employed or not — is immediate.

    Anyway, how do you know they don’t offer bonuses? I’m betting they do.

    More, if you think you know better how to run a company, then you probably should give it a try. The Exxon model seems to be working pretty well.

  13. SB says:

    The model of “keep the money out of the hands of those who do the actual work.” God bless corporate America.

  14. Daniel says:

    Dude, Trey wins. Exxon Mobil is a publicly held company. Lots of energy stocks pay dividends, too, though I’m not sure about E-M.

    And how much butter they put on their employees’ bread is between management and those who have entered into a voluntary employment arrangement. If Exxon employees can do better elsewhere, they’re free to do so.

    Doesn’t mean you have to like the bastards.

  15. Sean says:

    Man SB, I didn’t realize that Exxon/Mobil doesn’t pay it’s employees. They must just have a swimming pool filled with cash that the executives wallow in. I’m sure they don’t invest in corporate infrastructure, retail outlets or other expansions. And since they don’t pay their employees, they won’t need to pay anyone to man these expanded operations. But at least they’ll pay property taxes on any new development. But they probably don’t do that either, in your world.

  16. SB says:

    Sean,

    You’re making exaggerated claims that I never brought up. I’m aware that Exxon employees are paid and that they work there voluntarily.

    All I’m saying is that it would be refreshing to see a company that continually makes more money than God take a sizeable piece of that money and give it directly to the people who helped the company earn it. How can you not agree with that? How cool would be if tomorrow there was a story in the Morning News about how Exxon took $1 billion of its profits and just gave it back to the employees? Is $39 billion in profit not enough to accomplish the goals you mentioned? Do they have to have the full $40 billion profit to invest in corporate infrastructure and retail outlets?

    Apparently, my desire to reward the working schmoe makes me a terrible businessman.

  17. Sean says:

    SB,
    That would be great. But they didn’t get to be where they are by doing that. They’re probably giving bonuses, they’re probably investing it, they’re probably putting a lot of that back into the company and they are insuring their future so their thousands of employees will continue to be employed and have low-cost (if not no-cost) health insurance.
    Trust me, I’d love to work at Exxon where all I got was a whiff of that $41 billion profit, vs. where I work now. We wouldn’t know $41 billion if it was dropped on our foot with the label “$41 billion” stamped across it.

  18. Dallas Denizen says:

    Think about this for a minute, would you prefer that foreign oil companies are larger and make more money than XOM?

    I’m afraid that is the case. You’d better hope the American-owned oil companies don’t keep sliding…

  19. Trey Garrison says:

    The purpose of a business it to make money for its shareholders. Why is that suddenly so morally suspect?

  20. Trey Garrison says:

    “Apparently, my desire to reward the working schmoe makes me a terrible businessman.”

    It’s fun to feel good about yourself by advocating the spending of other people’s money, innit? You feel good about yourself, and if by chance it actually happened, it didn’t cost you a penny.

  21. SB says:

    I’m not saying making money for the shareholders is [email protected]#! I’m not saying re-investing in the company is wrong[email protected]#!

    But why is it when I suggest that a company who keeps breaking it’s own record for largest profit made in a year give a little cash back to their employees, I’m looked at like I’m crazy? What has happened in this country that the mere suggestion that a company with more money on-hand than has ever been seen before in the world gives some back to their employees is a completely crazy idea?

    What would Exxon not be able to do with $40.5 billion as opposed to $41 billion in profit? They would have the proudest, most loyal employee base on the face of the earth if they would take a small percentage of that profit and divide it up amongst the employees.

    Trey – if you and the other writers starting knocking stories out of the park and D Magazine became a national media force, I think it would be cool if Wick recognized your hard work and rewarded you with a small percentage of the newly found profit.

    Exxon has a unique opportunity to give something back. I don’t see why that’s such a crazy notion.

  22. Trey Garrison says:

    Give something back?

    Did they take something they weren’t entitled to?

  23. SB says:

    Dude, I’m not criminalizing their actions. They’re a legit company who sells a legit product that we all need.

    But, how many times do I have to say that I just think it would be a cool gesture?
    One that could do a lot of good for a lot of hardworking people.

  24. Trey Garrison says:

    I bet a lot of companies have been ruined by “cool gestures.” That was a common theme during the dot-com bust.

  25. SB says:

    I’m not talking about “a lot of companies.” I’m talking about Exxon. They literally have more money than the business world has ever seen before. They are in a truly unique position of having enough money to splurge a little on the employees and still have way more than enough left over.

    I’m guessing none of the dot-coms pulled in close to $120 billion in profit in a three year span.

  26. Trey Garrison says:

    “They are in a truly unique position of having enough money to splurge a little on the employees and still have way more than enough left over.”

    How do you know they haven’t?

  27. Josh Pearson says:

    Don’t blame SB, Trey. He’s from Iowa, he doesn’t know any better…

  28. SB says:

    You make a good point. I don’t truly know that they haven’t. I’m just assuming from my experience in corporate America that the big wigs would rather eat their own feet before sharing the wealth.

    I used to work at a prominent local pediatric hospital. For several years, the hospital was in dire straights financially. So, the employee base agreed to a plan that would cap raises at 4%, in an effort to get the institution back on solid ground. After several years, the hospital did a complete 180 and had more money than it knew what to do with. I’m talking about a supposed “non-profit” that was pulling in money hand over fist.

    However, did the 4% raise cap policy change once the money was back? No. The executive team grew exponentially and was rewarded with clothing allowances, travel allowances, company cars, food allowances, exorbanent salaries, etc. Meanwhile, the people who sacrificed for the good of the hospital got nothing.

    The same thing happened at American Airlines with employees taking voluntary pay cuts to help the company in dire times, and then being spit on once things got back to normal.

    I’m picturing Exxon being the exact same way. Profits over people. I guess I’m just cynical.

  29. Danny says:

    No, SB, you’re not cynical…you’re observant. And you have common sense. And empathy.

    Unfortunately, none of those qualities has much value – literally or figuratively – in today’s world of the deregulated capitalist circle-jerk. Also, unfortunately, you’re in an argument with apologists for this system who will fight to the death for their right to not put any of the aforementioned qualities to use when considering life beyond the boundaries of their comfortable existence. Or when NOT considering it, I should say…

    It’s not that you’re cynical. It’s just that you care. Now go back to watching Britney Spears fall apart and let the big people handle the financial stuff. It’ll be okay…trust them.

  30. Trey Garrison says:

    It’s great when people care so much they’re willing to spend other people’s money to show it.

  31. Danny says:

    As usual, Trey, you miss the point.

    Things have gotten obscenely out of hand when executives are reeling in billion dollar incomes while their employees continue to sputter along with cost-of-living raises, assuming their bosses are feeling generous enough to do, literally, the least they can do. Which is, of course, what they’re going to do.

    I’m not talking about spending anyone else’s money. I’m talking about corporate executives and shareholders raking in unconscionable amounts of wealth for themselves at the expense of their employees. Ethical behavior and just the SLIGHTEST amount in profit sharing isn’t quite as socialist as I’m guessing you assume it is. Free enterprise is one thing; free reign to amass more cash than many nations have at their disposal is nothing more than a license for the already wealthy to simply get everything while they can, then bolt without any repercussions.

    It may be the system under which the corporate world operates, but that doesn’t make it right. You can make a profit and have a conscience. These people choose not to. And for reasons that are beyond me, you support their right to do so. That you don’t feel disgust or outrage or sense perhaps the slightest amount of injustice at the ugly absurdity of income disparity in the corporate world today – that just proves to me that conscience and empathy aren’t among your strongest assets. If that doesn’t make you ashamed, so be it. In the meantime, you could serve yourself well by allowing the rest of us who wish to express our indignation and outrage without trying to bury it under your smug contempt.

    (And for the record, I spent plenty of my own money to back the endeavors and reforms for which I do care about. I just don’t have forty billion dollars with which to do so. Screw me, I guess…)

  32. SB says:

    Standing…….clapping…..

  33. Bethany says:

    You know, there’s plenty that believe in this wacky theory that there’s a finite amount of fossil fuel. If this is the case, eventually the product Exxon Mobil Co. sells will dry up, and so will its profits as we are forced to find something else for fuel.

    So if they “give back” now, does that mean we’ll need to subsidize them later, when this happens?

  34. SB says:

    Is anyone listening to what we’re saying? We’re not saying they should have to share their profits with the general public or with consumers.

    I don’t believe that Exxon is a mystical, profit-making, all-powerful entity. I think it’s a regular company made up of thousands of PEOPLE who bust their asses to generate that profit. Throw a little cash their way to say thanks for the hard work.

  35. Bethany says:

    They’re a publicly traded company. Have you gone to look at their 10K or even their 4Q to find out if they don’t, in fact, give some sort of dividend or profit-sharing?

    That’s typically how such “thanks for the hard work” is done, and really, it’s the most generous. What would you rather have – a percentage point of the profits on a quarterly or annual basis, which could be quite a boon on a $40B year, or a flat $200-500 bonus check?

    But really, this 34 post argument is academic til someone peruses the Exxon 10K.

  36. SB says:

    You make very valid points. However, $500 a person isn’t what I was thinking. With $41 billion in profit, Exxon could give 40,000 people $10,000 each and still have $40.6 billion in profit left over. That still surpasses the record for profit in a year.

    They’re a company dealing with unprecedented amounts of money and I think it would be amazing if they did unprecedented things with it.

  37. Bethany says:

    They also have shareholders to answer to, being a publicly-traded company. It’s a bit naive to make such an assertion when you also have to factor various fiscal responsibilities as well, such as the fact that fossil fuels do not replenish themselves with great rapidity. Ergo, they will need those profits in the future for capital expenses to either find new forms of fuel, and also to refine and retool their current methods of getting fuel.

    There is also a great deal of liability involved in running a company such as BP or Exxon. A certain amount of profit has to be set aside for such things as lawsuits as well – legal wrangling aside, they eventually do lose and/or get fined – just ask BP about the Texas refinery explosion.

    The oil business is not the most stable one – its often one of amazing highs, and then spectacular lows. I don’t see anything wrong with making sure that a company is fiscally sound enough to withstand those lows, and keep those employees that you’re concerned about employed during them.

  38. Danny says:

    I’m sticking with the short version of what I said earlier in a much more long-winded fashion:

    This may be the reality, but that doesn’t make it RIGHT. When laws or regulations (or de regulations) become outdated or start doing more harm than good, then they need to be changed.

    The system needs to be changed. Period.

  39. Trey Garrison says:

    What harm is being done?

  40. Bethany says:

    It’s very easy to have a knee-jerk reaction when you see $40B in profits and you’re paying close to $3 a gallon in gas.
    I get that.
    But the truth is, it’s not a fiscally responsible thing with a market as volatile as the oil and gas market is, to just make giant, grand gestures. Also, why does the system have to be changed? At the risk of sounding old-school republican here, this is called free enterprise for a reason. Just because a company is making a profit does not make it a bad company.

  41. SB says:

    1. No one said Exxon was a bad company.

    2. A “company” is not an independant, free-functioning being. It’s simply a word for a collection of individuals who are working towards a common goal for the purposes of making money.

    3. Those who work the hardest, make the most money. That’s the basis for free enterprise, right? Yet according to you, if the people who create the profits are actually allowed to have some of the profits, free enterprise has failed. I don’t quite get your logic.

    4. I’m a free market thinker and a registered republican, but you and Trey continue to do nothing but spout off the most generic, “towing the company line” rhetoric. No wonder conservatives are seen as heartless and cold. It’s because people like you would rather stand up for mythical ideals and philosophies than for the people who are actually affected by said actions.

  42. Bethany says:

    I think I’ve said quite a bit for the reasoning behind why you don’t just start tossing bags of cash around.

    It’s called thinking beyond this year’s $40B profit. I think it is a complete mis characterization to say that I have been towing any company line, or sounding unsympathetic. If anything, I’ve simply explained the basis for why huge bonuses might not be the most fiscally sound policy, given market volatility. Yes, they could throw a lot of money around now. You’re right. But what if that money could be spent, perhaps, locating another,untapped source of fossil fuel, or retooling a way of refining that fuel, so that we can keep those people you want to give bonuses to employed?

    It’s called the long haul. And, furthermore, nearly every huge company gives profit sharing and employee stock options. Those things are already built in, if you will, to the accounting that has been done. Do you not think that perhaps dividends will be paid? Our point is not that they should not get something, it is that they already are, and you are likely beating your chest for nothing.

  43. Danny says:

    When somebody responds to this story with the question, “What harm is being done?”…that’s when you know you’re arguing with a brick wall.

    I can’t speak for SB, but it seems there’s a point to be made that has nothing to do with “throwing bags of cash around” or bonuses, or even necessarily the amount of profit made versus the cost of the product to the consumer. Though, that last bit is plenty telling when you take the likes of the energy industry giants and folks like Wal-Mart into consideration. It has nothing to do with “grand gestures” and everything to do with common human decency.

    The point to which I’m referring is the OBSCENE amounts of money that these company executives – AND their shareholders – are paying themselves with little to no regulation. In fact, they’re probably being subsidized on top of it all. And the fact that there is no regulation is because they’ve put themselves into the position where they control the governments that are supposed to be regulating THEM. They ARE the government. It’s not a coincidence that Exxon’s CEO went to work for Dubya’s energy task force upon retirement. Nor is it a coincidence that most of our military activity tends to hover around the parts of the world that just happen to be sitting on – or on the way to – a whole bunch of oil. And I’m not trying to single out the Republicans on this because the same stuff was happening when Clinton was in the White House, and would be happening if Gore or Kerry were there now.

    But I’m getting WAY off track. The point I was trying to allude to is that there’s a WHOLE lot of money being made by the tiny few who control corporations like Exxon/Mobil. And that money most certainly does NOT trickle down to the average employee.

    Feel free to check out any of the following links. They are a bit older than I’d prefer, but the facts speak for themselves.

    Having read these articles, if you still respond by asking, “What harm is being done?” or you consider it an acceptable standard for corporate behavior, than I don’t think “unsympathetic” is an unfair characterization at all. If anything, it might be too charitable (unintentional irony, considering the topic).

    Here’s a quote from the first link, which I think sums up the situation beautifully…

    “In the meantime, Exxon’s sordid recent history suggests that relying on the traditional measure of CEO performance–shareholder return–isn’t going to be enough. Exxon last year funneled $25.4 billion back to its shareholders–over two-thirds of its record-setting $36 billion in profits. So comforted, few shareholders have complained about either Raymond’s bloated retirement package or the tragic legacy of corporate short-sightedness certain to harm generations to come.”

    http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/04/17/legacy_of_an_exxon_ceo.php

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/05/yourmoney/morgenson.php

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1841989

  44. GMOM says:

    I thought Exxon was moving its Corporate offices to Dubai to avoid TAXES. That doesn’t seem right????

  45. Trey Garrison says:

    How is a profit of 10 percent on gross revenues “obscene”? That’s less than most industries.

  46. Trey Garrison says:

    And who gets to define “obscene”?

  47. Trey Garrison says:

    Also, if a company makes “obscene” amounts of money, why shouldn’t the people with the vision who made it possible be rewarded handsomely?

    And CEO compensation is very regulated — by the shareholders and board members who pay that salary. Who better than the people who own the company than to determine what a company officer’s remuneration should be?

  48. Trey Garrison says:

    Finally — if you’re not a shareholder, what business is it of yours what a company officer is paid? It’s not like they’re paying them your money.

  49. Danny says:

    This is what I was talking about, SB.

    Trey, whenever you’re done jerking off to the Exxon logo, you might actually consider following the links I provided. Not that it will change your opinion. Let them eat cake, right…?

    I sometimes envy folks who can tune out anything that doesn’t hit them squarely in the wallet…who will deny the existence of any information that is in conflict with their own personal dogma. In your case, though, I feel mostly pity.

  50. Trey Garrison says:

    So I point out that what Exxon does 1) costs you nothing 2) is regulated by shareholders and 3) is not obscene, and yet I’m the one holding to dogma?

  51. Danny says:

    No, you’re the one not paying attention. Whether it’s by choice or due to intellectual or spiritual limitations, I have no idea.

  52. SB says:

    You’re not paying attention Trey because you’re addressing points we weren’t arguing.

    To some up this whole 52 comment thred: If Exxon gives $400 million in cash (Lee Raymond in 2005) to ONE person, they’re free market, true capitalists.

    If they split $400 million in cash amongst the employee base, which in turn would be recycled back into the local economy, they’re communists.

    According to Trey and Bethany, Exxon dispersing $400 million of their profits would lead to the company’s downfall due to a lack of foresight. However, I’m saying that it’s something they’ve already done, with no consequences to their bottom line.

    I’m just asking why it can’t be used to benefit tens of thousands of people (their employees) instead of just one.

    Why is that such a foreign concept? Why does that make us bad people?

  53. Trey Garrison says:

    What Exxon does with its profits are, ultimately, none of your business unless you’re a shareholder.

    Why are you so obsessed with telling other people how to spend their money?

  54. SB says:

    1. I’m not demanding that they do it. In the end, it is their money.

    2. It was a suggestion I threw out that I thought would pump money back into our local economy during what is a currently a bleak economic time. $10,000 in the hands of 40,000 different people is going to do a lot more good locally than $400 million in Lee Raymond’s IRA. I know it’s not my decision to make, but even you can see the benefits of that, right?

  55. SB says:

    I also find it funny that a member of the media is throwing out the phrase “none of your business.” All you do for a living is delve into information that’s technically none of your business.

  56. Danny says:

    Problem is, Trey’s not functioning at this point as a member of the media. He’s being a dutiful toady for the neocons.

    Let’s also throw Wal-Mart under the bus for a second to reinforce our point…

    Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton once said, “I pay low wages. I can take advantage of that. We’re going to be successful, but the basis is a very low-wage, low-benefit model of employment.”

    Charming and quite a humanitarian attitude, yes?

    “Based on year 2000 data,ExxonMobil was ranked sixth on the Toxic 100 list of US corporate air polluters by Political Economy Research Institute.”

    “ExxonMobil has yet to pay any of the $2.5 billion USD in punitive damages owed to 33,000 fishermen, businesses, and affected communities as a result of the spill. Exxon had argued that it should pay no more than $25 million in punitive damages in the case, and the case is currently on appeal to the United States Supreme Court.”

    “In 2005, ExxonMobil surpassed Wal-Mart as the world’s largest publicly held corporation when measured by revenue, although Wal-Mart remained the largest by number of employees. ExxonMobil’s $340 billion revenues in 2005 were a 25.5 percent increase over their 2004 revenues.

    “In 2006, Wal-Mart recaptured the lead with revenues of $348.7 billion against ExxonMobil’s $335.1. ExxonMobil continues to lead the world in both profits ($39.5 billion in 2006) and market value ($410.7 billion).”

    Allow me to throw out a few more observations…

    Definitions of greed:

    noun – excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves;

    noun – reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth (personified as one of the deadly sins)

    Definitions of empathy:

    noun – understanding and entering into another’s feelings

    And some notes from Wikipedia…

    “Robber baron was a term revived in the 19th century in the United States as a pejorative reference to businessmen and bankers who dominated their respective industries and amassed huge personal fortunes, typically as a direct result of pursuing various anti-competitive or unfair business practices. The term may now be used in relation to any businessman or banker who is perceived to have used questionable business practices or scams in order to become powerful or wealthy.

    “The term derives from the medieval German lords who illegally charged exorbitant tolls against ships traversing the Rhine river.

    “Their critics called them ‘robber barons’, referring to their use of overpowering and sometimes unethical financial manipulations.

    “The Gilded Age…was excessive and wasteful — it was a period characterized by showy displays of wealth and excessive opulence. However, it is important to consider that the Gilded Age was…a time of despair and dirt was “gilded” by the image of the rich who benefitted from industrialization.”

    I don’t know how else to more clearly communicate “why I care”…greed versus empathy; fair versus unfair.

    You’d have done well in the Gilded Age, Trey. Assuming you had access to the proper robber baron asses to kiss…

  57. Trey Garrison says:

    I fail to see the relevance.