Give Something Back: Volunteer through

So what are you going to do with your life this summer?

Anyone who has traveled in the third world gets a new appreciation for what it means to be born in America. We carry our safe drinking water in our backpacks, while surrounded by those who must drink the local water, safe or not. Our universities’ foreign travel clinics prepare us with shots and malaria pills to start taking before our plane even lands, while the local people who are surrounded by these diseses for all of their lives cannot afford basic health care. Before travel we notice those who have more money, more education, more opportunity than we do. After travel, we understand how lucky we are to be born in a place where we do have so much.

If by accident of birth you have been born in a place where you can have adequate health care, safe water, and unlimited educational opportunities, you might want to consider giving something back to the universe. Give your time to some worthwhile cause. Many local papers list volunteer opportunities. If you don’t know where to find volunteer opportunities in your area, has a database of over 10,000 volunteer positions.

Last week I visited the local career fair sponsored by this organization. New this year were representatives from several unions with biligual flyers targeting workers in industrial laundries, hotels, casinos, food service, apparel, and distribution centers.

And here is a new Spanish lesson:

organize for power
organizarse para tener poder

make hotel jobs middle class jobs
lograr que los empleos de hoteles sean de clase media

restore the American Dream
restaurar el sueño americano

lifting one another above the poverty line
levantándonos unos a otros de la pobreza

organización sindical

low wage and immigrant workers
trabajadores mal pagados y los inmigrantes

work to make history and change workers’ lives
trababajar para hacer historia y cambiar las vidas de los trabajadores

Working people are standing up to corporate greed.
Los trabajadores se defienden de la codicia empresarial.

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Oil Price Gouging-oil company profits double, but no federal laws define price gouging

Yesterday it was reported that the FTC ruled oil companies didn’t manipulate the market after Hurricane Katrina.

Jamie Court, the president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights doesn’t think that tells the whole story. On the foundation’s website Court said the commission didn’t study broader questions of why U.S. demand for gas has risen 30 percent, while supply is up 10 percent. “Seems you’d want to keep up with demand unless you want to make more money,’’ he said of the oil companies.

Court also shared some thoughts in on National Public Radio’s Marketplace.

What does a gallon of gasoline really cost to make anyway? No one knows exactly. But oil companies’ recent profit reports tell us it’s a whole lot less than what we’re being charged at the pump.

That’s how Exxon Mobil took home more than $8.4 billion in the first quarter and Chevron doubled its profits to $4 billion.

You see, big oil companies say the price of their raw material — crude — is skyrocketing.

In reality, Exxon and Chevron make piles of money both from selling their crude oil and from refining that oil into gasoline.

Refiners like Exxon almost never pay the high crude prices they complain about. That’s because when refiners aren’t using their own crude, they have long-term contracts at cheaper-than-market prices.

And that’s why profits from Chevron’s refineries jumped 260 percent in the same quarter.

Court also had some ideas for ways legislators and regulators could go after price gouging.

When it comes to price gouging, there are no federal laws.

States say you can only prosecute for gouging under two conditions. First, there has to be a state of emergency. And next, gas prices have to go up by at least 10 percent when the cost of supplies doesn’t justify it.

With outrageous gasoline prices sucking the life out of the economy, why doesn’t the federal government apply the same state standard for price gouging prosecutions all the time, not just during emergencies?

Posted in Government, Oil. Comments Off on Oil Price Gouging-oil company profits double, but no federal laws define price gouging