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Gas Boycotts Are Stupid

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There was the one day gasoline boycott, then the month-long boycotts of particular companies (in this case Exxon), but no one really seems to push the most obvious idea of them all – reduce our use of gasoline and our reliance on oil, that will truly hit the oil companies and those darned terrorists in the pocketbooks. One day boycotts don’t work because it just shifts it to another day. That month long boycott designed to force a company to lower its prices because of a surplus, well that doesn’t work either because that’s not how the fuel refinery pipeline works (if they want to, they’ll just sell it to another company on the spot market, read more about gas prices). Ultimately, the only legitimate way to force the companies to drop their price is to use the powers of the free market economy – lower the demand.

Drive the speed limit.
Avoid abrupt starts and stops.
Maintain your car.
Carpool.
Own a car with decent mileage.
Use your car less.

By the way, I just finished reading through that article about targeting Exxon (first linked post) after I wrote this and saw that they wrote the demand thing, looks like that BS in Economics I have but never use actually came in handy. Okay, I’m done ranting… have a great weekend! :)

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7 Responses to “Gas Boycotts Are Stupid”

  1. cami says:

    Hee. I wrote a post about this a couple of weeks ago and then I saw that EverdayFinance had a post in the Carnival of Personal Finance about this as well. We of course can to the same logical conclusion that you did: if you want a change in prices you have to lower demand! People sure are silly.

  2. Bill Gates is also paying out big money for his new email tracking program…. LOL….

    The very thought of this working is preposterous. Your car is eventually going to stop running – you will need to fill it up!

    But more importantly, there’s this — let’s assume that the entire country of drivers could be mobilized to boycott on a particular day. Let’s assume we can get that done – everyone stays away from the pumps on boycott day. Those folks would continue to drive their cars on boycott day. Which means that, with 100 million cars on the road, or however many it really is, a certain portion of them would run low on gas on that boycott day. But they wouldn’t fill up that day – they’d wait till the next day – we’ll call that “day after boycott day.”

    Now, other cars would also be running out of gas on day after boycott day. They would pull in to the local filling station to fill up, along with all of the boycotters, thereby creating up to twice as much traffic at gas stations that day.

    As Ted Striker said in the movie “Airplane!”, I guess the foot’s on the other hand now!

    • Posco says:

      And we’d all be idling our engines while waiting in the gas pump line.

      I don’t have an education in economics, but you cannot just tell people in a free market economy to alter their behavior in order to lower demand for fuel in order to lower the price of fuel. Even if lower demand causes a drop in the fuel price, greedy members of that economy will buy more fuel (or bigger SUV’s), thus increasing the same demand. Result: no lower price on fuel.

      In order to lower demand for fuel A, there must be a replacement fuel B for which demand increases. Or, to change people’s behavior to not use less of ANY fuel, you may need non-free-market forces such as government taxation (or tax-relief), or smarter urban design, or….

  3. Christopher Tracy says:

    It’s about time I found someone who understands that one-day boycotts are stupid. Only a real, sustained, and well-executed boycott will have any effect at all. Even still, that may not work… Why?

    Well for starters, the first people hurt in a sustained boycott is not the Exxons and Shells of the world. It is the small business owners who operate the Exxon and Shell stations across the country. Not that they make a lot of money on gas – they don’t. They’re money is actually in the convenience snacks, car washes, and etc. they sell. If we boycott indefinitely will these businesses stay open?Maybe, but some will surely close.

    Secondly, the steep drop in demand over the long term will eventually reach the doorstep of Big Oil. But would they care? Probably not. There are 300+ products made from crude oil including the plastic and silcone inside the very PC I’m typing on. Gasoline is high-volume, high-profile, but not high on profit compared to other oil products.

    Third, unless there is a person who can lead a legitimate national boycott, the way to address the many issues with oil consumption is to find alternative fuels and/or alternative means of transportation/lifestyle. High gas prices is one sure-way to get America to act.

    Thanks for listening.

  4. Tim says:

    another thing would be to force legislation to build more refineries. u.s. refinery capacity has far out lagged demand. that is, build more refineries, increase supply to decrease price.

  5. dong says:

    Coincdentally, I had a presentation on this at work. Not really all that much a coicidence sine I work in the power industry. But apparently there is actually a really high number of unplanned outages at the refineries this year that’s pushing up the spread, the worst of the high gas prices should be over.

  6. Big Saver says:

    lol…though I’ve hear this all too often, I actually enjoyed your rant!


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