?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
03 September 2005 @ 02:49 pm
Chock full of irony  
During the last week or so of August there was a chain letter type thing floating about the net, urging people not to buy gas on September 1st.


"
IT HAS BEEN CALCULATED THAT IF EVERYONE IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA DID NOT PURCHASE A DROP OF GASOLINE FOR ONE DAY AND ALL AT THE SAME TIME, THE OIL COMPANIES WOULD CHOKE ON THEIR STOCKPILES.
AT THE SAME TIME IT WOULD HIT THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY WITH A NET LOSS OF OVER 4.6 BILLION DOLLARS WHICH AFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINES OF THE OIL COMPANIES.
THEREFORE SEPTEMBER 1st HAS BEEN FORMALLY DECLARED "STICK IT UP
THEIR BEHIND " DAY AND THE PEOPLE OF THESE TWO NATIONS SHOULD NOT BUY A SINGLE DROP OF GASOLINE THAT DAY.
THE ONLY WAY THIS CAN BE DONE IS IF YOU FORWARD THIS E-MAIL TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN AND AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN TO GET THE WORD OUT.
WAITING ON THE GOVERNMENT TO STEP IN AND CONTROL THE PRICES IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REDUCTION AND CONTROL IN PRICES THAT THE ARAB NATIONS PROMISED TWO WEEKS AGO?
REMEMBER ONE THING, NOT ONLY IS THE PRICE OF GASOLINE GOING UP BUT AT THE SAME TIME AIRLINES ARE FORCED TO RAISE THEIR PRICES, TRUCKING COMPANIES ARE FORCED TO RAISE THEIR PRICES WHICH EFFECTS PRICES ON EVERYTHING THAT IS SHIPPED. THINGS LIKE FOOD, CLOTHING, BUILDING MATERIALS, MEDICAL SUPPLIES ETC. WHO PAYS IN THE END? WE DO!

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. IF THEY DON'T GET THE MESSAGE AFTER ONE DAY, WE WILL DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN.

SO DO YOUR PART AND SPREAD THE WORD. FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND MAKE SEPTEMBER 1ST A DAY THAT THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA SAY "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH"?"


Ouch. Okay, after your eyes have recovered...


First of all i knew when i first read it that it was doomed to failure. You'd probably need to get at least 10% of the population to buy in on the idea (or rather, agree to not buy in =) in order to have any noticeable economic impact, and you'd probably have to get at least 50% to have anyone sit up and take notice. I doubt they got even the 10%.

Second of all, given that gas prices are shooting upwards because of Katrina and a few places are experiencing shortages, (shortages as in they are out of gas, there is none to buy) the oil companies might actually have been _happy_ if gas usage had been significantly reduced on the first, except that....

Did they really think this would make _any_ significant difference? "It has been calculated" by whom? I seriously doubt that there is so little slack in the system that 24 hours of boycotting would have a significant impact, certainly not 4.6 billion dollars worth of impact. According to HowStuffWorks the US uses 178 million gallons of gas a day. At $3 a gallon the oil companies could dump all the unbought gasoline from that day for just half a million dollars. (I don't know about Canada's gas usage but i think it's safe to say it must be quite a bit less than the US) I have to imagine that that's the worst case scenario and i'd be very surprised if they didn't have any better contingency plans than that.

So what are the proponents of this scheme trying to accomplish? They seem to want to hurt the oil companies as much as possible for some reason. They don't really have any clearly stated goals other than that but they seem to indicate that they're upset with high gas prices. They're not worried about the enviromental impact of using so much gasoline, they're not worried about foreign dependencies for our supply of a vital resource, they're not worried about peak oil. They just want cheap gas.

So their plan to achieve this is to... massively increase the costs of the oil industry? If we assume that there's some glaring hole in my logic and the protester's 4.6 billion figure is right, what do they think the gas companies are going to be doing the next few days after this financial catastrophe? Probably raising prices to make up for their huge losses. In the very unlikely worst case scenario some companies might go bankrupt. Supply would then go down while demand would skyrocket as everyone who didn't buy gas on the first now has to stock up on even more when they do go to the pump later in the week. But even at the 4.6 billion dollars figure that's probably unlikely to hapen over the period of just 24 hours.

A week's boycotting of gasoline by everyone might _start_ to have that kind of impact. However there's this little problem that we _do_ need gassoline as things currently stand. We could gradually shift to other forms of transportation, which many people have been encouraging amercans to do of course, but we can't just suddenly decide to not use any gas for an extended period of time. That's why prices are so high, that's why there can't be any effective long-term boycott, and that's why the best a short term boycott can hope to do is to _raise_ prices.
 
 
Current Mood: geekygeeky
 
 
 
Ambermaggiedacatt on September 3rd, 2005 09:55 pm (UTC)
I remember getting something like this in 1999 or so when gas prices were rising sharply (that was when we were shitting bricks to see $1.50 / gallon), and it was equally ineffectual. In fact, I've never seen a successful boycott e-mail.
Mark E. Phairistgut on September 3rd, 2005 10:14 pm (UTC)
even move-on, which is supposed to be "hugely successful" or something like that, failed miserably in their initial purpose.

i have a feeling that the internet is great for local stuff, not so great for national political stuffage.
Vespera: Penny tonguesol_rei on September 3rd, 2005 11:07 pm (UTC)
When I posted this in victoria_bc, I got this link. I felt pretty stupid afterward, but those kinds of thoughts don't help anything. I was just being overly optimistic about the ability grassroots movements. I am growing to be a cynical person.

And I feel for you. You live in California. I've been there. I've seen how IMPOSSIBLE it would be to get anywhere without a vehicle, because that is the way they have constructed the cities down there. It's like that in many major cities in Canada, too. It's ridiculous, and there's nothing I (or anyone else, it seems) can do about it. All it seems I can do is to do what I can, even though it doesn't seem to make a difference.