Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nip It In The Bud

I'm not going to wait to get the actual E-mail on this one to rant about it on the blog. It was bad enough to get the readers digest version on my phone. I received this plea in a text message on my cell phone from a number I don't recognize (thanks for burning my text message pool) and can't find any information about:
From: 1801949676*
Fwd:FWD: DONT Buy gas on the 15h. If nobody buys, the gas company loses 2 billion & the next day they will drop the price 35c. It worked in 1997! Pass it on.
8:55am 5/3/07
Arrgh! Misinformation is so easy to spread these days. I started thinking back to the first time I remember an effort to mount a "gas out" or "gas boycott" and I sure didn't remember one in 1997. I graduated high school in 1995, and remember gas going over $1 per gallon for the first time (in Utah) in the spring of 1996. I remember this particularly because I was driving myself to school at Weber State, listening to the news about Bob Dole not running for Senator at the same time as his Presidential run and thinking to myself "gas will never go back under the $1 mark again."

Anyway, there was no uproar about a "gas out" at that time and in fact, I first remembered one in 2000 while I was in Phoenix and I certainly didn't see any drop in prices after that. So I did a little research and learned that the first "gas out" was in 1999 and didn't effect gas prices at all. In fact, this is probably my biggest complaint about this message - Gas Out's don't hurt the gas companies bottom line! If you don't buy gas Tuesday the 15th you will buy it eventually and to the gas companies the average profit is the same.

That said, I usually do support "Gas Out's" based on the belief that it seems to be a good way to make local gas purveyors and to a lesser degree the larger gas companies take note that we're not happy about the trend. This however is a minor effect since only the money will cause change in status quo. Check this quote out from's David Emery, the urban legend specialist:
A meaningful boycott would entail participants actually consuming less fuel -- and doing so in a sustained, disciplined fashion over a period of time -- not just choosing to wait a day or two before filling up as usual.
You'll want to read the entire article from David Emery on He points another bit of false info that raised my eybrow: The average sales of gasoline across the entire U.S. is under $1 billion per day. How then will the gas companies lose $2 billion if we "gas out" for one day?

I too deplore high gas prices. I am at a point that travel and even business and school will be limited if prices remain this high. I believe however that misinformation will not help the masses make change. I think we need to be drilling in ANWR & the Gulf of Mexico. I think we need more refineries in the U.S. I think we should be converting oil shale in Southern Utah (and elsewhere) into petroleum. I would love it if I could have a vehicle with the same power and ability as the one I have now, and use either less energy or an alternative energy source. (Note however that I don't believe manufacturers should be mandated by statue to do so.)

So "Gas Out" if you want to, I may even be there myself, but don't send me another text message when gas costs the same on the 16th as it did on the 14th.

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