Tuesday, December 11, 2007

877 JOE-4-OIL

Among the holiday sales and Christmas specials being advertised on television these days is a new sign of the season hitting the airwaves: CITGO’s Low Cost Heating Oil program. The commercials feature spokesman Joe Kennedy flashing his family’s famous million-dollar smile all over the screen as he tells the stories of the program's needy recipients. Kennedy started a non-profit organization 28 years ago to help families meet the high cost of heating oil. The program has drawn much criticism in recent years since the oil is donated at a 40% discount from Venezuelan owned CITGO. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as you know, is a controversial figure (and one of the Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating People of 2007!) He is known for his extreme socialist views and admiration of Fidel Castro, his stronghold on state industries and for quite famously referring to George Bush as "the devil" in a UN address last year.

Many believe the motivation behind Venezuela’s generosity is to make the United States look bad for not being able to take care of its "invisible poor" as Kennedy refers to them in the ads and to portray Chavez as a "good guy". In defense of these accusations Kennedy stated in an interview last year that in the 27 years he has been heading the program not a single OPEC nation or US Oil Company has ever offered heating oil at any discount whatsoever, let alone at 40%, despite his repeated requests. Whatever the motivation, the recipients of the much needed heating oil don’t seem to care.

Needy individuals and familes can call 877-JOE-4-OIL for more information. Click here to see one of the CITGO Joe-4-Oil commercials that aired last year.

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At 5:26 AM, Blogger kevin said...

It's very true, if you are cold and in need of warmth and you are the poorest of the poor then you dont care where the oil is coming from!

It always puzzles me (and concerns me) how there are poor people in USA considering it is the richest nation on earth. However a friend suggested to me once that no one in America suffers from extreme poverty ie no food or water so are there really poor Americans?

Sometimes the idea of being poor is thrown around too much. My neighbour is categorised as poor by the state. He owns a car and a fancy cellphone which takes pics. He told me the other day that he was having problems with his internet connection and couldnt load his i-pod with the latest songs....he was telling me this while he was smoking his cigarette!

This leads me to ask....what is being poor?

Hugs to you Michael, good to see your new pic by the way. The bridge in the background looks familiar.

Kev in NZ

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Kevin, I can understand you're thinking that there are no poor people in America. We do a good job at hiding them. But the truth is there are some Americans who have no working plumbing and many who go hungry every year. I remember being in parts of New Orleans (before Katrina) and thinking "this is third world poverty." The same is true in parts of Appalachia and many inner cities. While we do have some programs to help these people, many lack the education and wherewithal to pursue them, so these people get quietly swept under the rug. This is precisely why Kennedy refers to them as "the invisible poor."

That said, glad you like the new picture. The bridge in the background is the George Washington Bridge which spans the Hudson River linking New York and New Jersey.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Peter said...

It is truly sad how we conveniently look away from the poor. Just take a look at the presidential campaigns in both parties. Only one person consistently mentions the poor...John Edwards. The media response to his recognition of the poor has been shameful. Rather than highlight his proposals or discuss his foundation, they want to talk about his $400 haircut all while attacking his strategy to talk about poverty. Because everyone knows that poor people do not vote or contribute to campaigns. Michael, great post! It is a wonderful time of year to remind your readers about the poor.

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