It wasn’t Uncle Sam who takes a chunk of hard-earned money for tax purposes from each paycheck, and it wasn’t the attorneys who can make a case of out of anything. Nor, was it the health insurance industry that sometimes denies claims for much-needed medical treatments. And it wasn’t the elected officials who just can’t seem to get along to get much of anything done these days. Topping a recent Gallup poll for the most hated industry in the country was the oil and gas sector. Sixty-one percent said they had a negative feeling toward oil companies, reported 24/7 Wall Street, which reviewed some of the industries hated by Americans. Perhaps, Americans have just had enough when it comes the rising gasoline prices, which hit the highest price ever for a Labor Day weekend this year when a gallon of regular gasoline reached a $3.80 national average. The record, however, was set before the poll results were released. Nonetheless, gas prices have been steadily inching upward. Perhaps higher prices left a bitter taste in the mouths of those taking the Gallup poll. Maybe the BP oil spill lingered in their minds they have anxiety over hydraulic fracturing, or insert another reason here that caused the oil and gas sector to replace the government at the top of the most-hated industry list. The Wall Street Journal reported the poll asked thousands of Americans how they felt about 25 of the nation’s largest industries: positive, neutral, or negative. Some 73% of responses for computers, the highest-rated industry, were positive. However, only 22% felt positively about banking, while more than 60% felt negatively. The article reported the sectors that performed well on the poll were those that involved discretionary spending. Among these were the Internet, restaurants, retail, and computers, all of which are used primarily for leisure by Americans. Contrastingly, the industries that generated the most negative response were those considered necessities. That list included banking, oil and gas, and the pharmaceutical industry. However, in some instances, perception for some of the least-liked industries has improved recently. For example, the health-care industry’s positive perception has gone from 27% in 2011 to 42% in 2012. But imagine the nation without some of these least liked sectors, particularly the oil and gas industry. There would certainly be fewer jobs, for starters. Houston as we know it would no longer exist. The nation would be completely dependent on other countries to supply its energy needs. Plentiful resources would remain untapped underground. Who knows how gasoline prices would look. The list could go on and on, and such arguments can be tailored to any industry on the list. But I guess some sector has to be at the top of the most-hated list. I think it all comes down to public perception, something that all companies – not just those in the oil and gas sector – need to take seriously. Transparency, fully explaining processes, and righting wrongs quickly can go a long way with the general public. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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