prix d'essence

Marek isn't around to provide insightful commentary on the price of oil, so somebody has got to pick up the slack. I'm a poor substitute, but I'll do what I can. (O Marek, Where art thou?)

This was prompted because I was sent some inane email about how we, as Americans, should boycott Exxon/Mobile for a year in order to pressure them into lowering prices. Wow. What a stupid idea. There is squat you or I can do to affect the price of gasoline at the pump. The strategy is a total waste of energy (hey! a pun!). It might give you the impression that you are part of the solution, but a few more months of high gas prices would dampen your exuberance rather quickly.

Econ 101: Oil is a fungible commodity. That means that if you personally don't buy Exxon/Mobile, somebody else on the globe will. Also, even if even 1 million people could somehow adhere to the boycott, it would be a pittance in the pocketbooks of big oil. Don't forget that airlines, cargo ships, and trucks consume much more gasoline than America's cars combined. All of the goods you buy are shipped via these fleets. You can't boycott the grocery store.

What can you do?

Well, not much, save lower your personal dependency on gasoline. So how to do that?

0. Suck it up and accept that higher prices are here to stay. (It's not that bad, really. Ever seen the price at the pumps in Europe?)

1. Buy a more fuel-efficient car. Hybrids, diesels, anything that doesn't have SUV in its name. If you're feeling adventurous, check out bio-diesel or natural gas.

2. If you happen to live in a part of the country that has decent public transportation, use it! Back of the napkin math proves that it is cheaper than driving (which includes insurance, maintenance, as well as fuel costs).

3. Carpool! It automatically divides your gas bill by the number of people in the carpool.

4. Make fun of people who buy gas-gussling SUVs and the like. Their oil dependency drives up the US demand for oil. Supply/Demmand. You can't escape it. If people bought less SUVs and more econo cars, our national fuel needs would be lower.

5. Lobby your state and national government to improve fuel economy standards. There is no reason why a few rich jerks with lots of disposable income should get away with making gas more expensive for everyone.

6. In 2006 and 2008, don't vote for oil men for Congress and the President. Our current government IS Big Oil. They have no fiscal incentive to lower the price at the pump. Give them an electoral one.

Take home message: YOU CAN'T BOYCOTT OIL. It's impossible. It's the nature of our global economy. Someone else will buy it (probably you, via an indirect source). Reducing your personal oil footprint is the only this you can actively do, and--for the politically active--you can be part of the effort to change how our nation uses oil.


At 5/4/06, 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey it's cool you are updating so much again. I want to more too now that I am off the theater train for a bit.

Anyways, I know you aren't a Freedman fan but he has a point that all this may be part of the growing pains that will get us off oil more and more.
Like your fictional kids will be in a better place when you are rocking away. So we may just have to suffer for the greater good.


At 5/5/06, 8:36 AM, Blogger Michael Stone said...

Well said! Such a shame that common sense flies in the face of popular opinion.


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