Big Oil and The Bird

As if soaring fuel prices aren’t enough, now Big Oil has claimed its latest victim…the Pink Flamingo. I half-listened as news stations broke the story last night, not realizing that there was just one factory that pumps out the tacky, plastic Phoenicopterus ruber ruber. Who knew?

What I found most interesting, however, was the reason for the poor flamingo’s demise after 49 years of plastic bliss. Not lack of demand (although, yes, in some nitty-gritty, economically speaking way it is somewhat tied to that). Not a general turning-away by the larger public from pink, resin yard birds. But, in fact, Big Oil opened up its gaping hole of a mouth and swallowed up Don Featherstone’s prized creation.

Maybe I’m being a little dramatic. Maybe all of the old oil chums weren’t involved in some great conspiracy to deliver one final blow to the pink flamingo. But be informed that the top two reasons Mr. Featherstone closed up shop were (1) the rising cost of electricity (hmm…electricity…fuel…oil); and (2) the increasing expense of plastic resin (made from…you guessed it, OIL!).

I guess this exercise in product lifespan makes me contemplate how the smallest things can be influenced by factors about which we might not even think. Honestly, if someone would have asked me what drove the flamingo to its grave, oil probably wouldn’t have been my first culprit. Perhaps, I would be more inclined to blame an overall shift in the decorating paradigm of South Florida retirees. When I really think about it, though, it makes sense. So maybe it’s a stretch to think that Big Oil is responsible for the ultimate passing on of the pink, plastic bird into ornith-heaven. Or maybe not. Just think…at $6,029 per hour for Georgie to take a spin in Airforce One, our tax dollars could have purchased 402 pairs of plastic flamingos at the going rate. And who knows? That might have been just enough to keep kitschy pink yard ornaments around until their 50th Birthday.


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