Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this release not based on historical facts are considered “forward-looking” and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such forward-looking statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions and financial performance. In connection with the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated.

Ameren, Media Release, Dec 14, 2007

My utility company, Ameren, has gotten into a little bit of trouble recently. Over the last several years it has successfully argued that it needed to be freed of cumbersome regulations that were making it impossible to make a profit. Embarrassingly, they recently announced a record profit jump of 76%, all on the heels of huge rate increases that they may be legally forced to return in the form of rebates.

So they have begun a PR campaign to try to get their image all ironed up and green. They recently announced a ‘green initiative’ in which they acknowledge the reality of global warming and outline “how Ameren companies have worked over the past two decades to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in advance of regulatory mandates and how Ameren intends to address greenhouse gas (principally carbon dioxide — CO2) emissions.”

All of this is well and good but what I find so interesting is the way the press release ends. They set out all of their plans for environmental initiatives and then they conclude by noting that many of their ideas are “forward-looking” and so “involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed.” They then go on to list 23 reasons why Ameren may not be able to keep to their plans.

Among their reasons they include everything from “Changes in laws and other governmental actions, including monetary and fiscal policies,” to”Acts of sabotage, war, terrorism or intentionally disruptive acts.” It’s a classic of both current American political rhetoric and contemporary corporate double-speak. I can’t figure out how I might translate that into ordinary speech. Perhaps, “shit happens, and we might change our minds.”

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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