May 10th, 2007

Why the Gas Protest Won’t Work

photo credit: Autumn84

Some people are so gullible!

The latest email circulating the tubes of the internet is the “Don’t Pump Gas on May 15” email. It goes something like this:

In April 1997, there was a “gas out” conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

On May 15th 2007, all internet users are to not go to a gas station in protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most places.

There are 73,000,000+ American members currently on the internet network, and the average car takes about 30 to 50 dollars to fill up.

If all users did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would take $2,292,000,000.00 (that’s almost 3 BILLION) out of the oil companies pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May 15th and let’s try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day.

At the time of writing this post, the Facebook group created for this event had over 68,000 (gullible) members.

Why the popularity for such a load of bologna?

The snopes page indicates that there have been similar emails floated around in previous years, all making the same ludicrous claim that by not buying gas on a single day, the oil industry will somehow suffer, thereby reducing the price of gasoline. The email even includes a fictitious claim that in 1997 the price of a gallon of gasoline plummeted in response to such a “strike”.

The snopes article points out why this is so absurd:

The premise behind all these messages is inherently flawed, because consumers’ not buying gasoline on one particular day doesn’t affect oil companies at all. The “gas out” scheme doesn’t call upon people to use less gasoline, but simply to shift their date of purchase and buy gas a day earlier or later than they usually would The very same amount of gasoline is sold either way, so oil companies don’t lose any money.

The key to impacting the oil industry and lowering prices lies in the basic economic principle of supply and demand. If we all used less gasoline, the demand would not be nearly as high, and then the prices would drop. Using the same amount of gasoline and instead choosing to buy it one day later will not make any impact whatsoever, as the oil industry will recoup their “lost money” the following day.

Wake up, people. Oh, and while you’re at it, stop using so much toilet paper! ::: rolls eyes :::

Further reading:

8 Responses to “Why the Gas Protest Won’t Work”

  1. Silus Grok
    May 10, 2007 at 8:03 am #


    Refusing to pump on one day only to pump the next is not going to do a thing: it’s too small of a dip in demand. What would need to happen is two-fold: a static or growing supply and a diminishing demand. Neither is available… we’re not willing, as a people, to walk or bike — and the days of plentiful oil are over. Welcome to a diminishing supply and a static or growing demand. Welcome to the world of higher (  much much higher ) gas prices.

  2. Kelly Winterton
    May 10, 2007 at 10:51 am #

    Uniform efforts toward conservation are the only hope we have. This will make the withdrawal from the age of oil less painful. Even these efforts will not bring any long-term, measurable relief from energy prices. We will have to learn to do with less in the future of our kids and grandkids, unless the whole situation erupts before that time, in say a full-blown oil war in the Middle East. (I almost said Armegeddon.) (Do you think the Arab translation of Armegeddon is “army gettin’ our oil?”)

    I predict a more likely scenario, one of an oil famine caused by geo-political unrest, with the resulting collapse of our economy. (compare Revelation chapter 18) Our U.S. economy is totally dependent upon oil.

    Pay attention to the prophets and get out of debt, get some food storage, learn to get by with less, become more fit and self-reliant, and keep the commandments.

  3. Joey Day
    May 10, 2007 at 11:27 am #

    Hm, interesting coincidence that May 14-18 is National Bike-to-Work Week. If everybody parked their cars for a week that might actually send a message, though I still don’t think it would make a huge difference.

    The best way to make a difference is to stop being so dependent on oil in the first place. We all complain about gas prices being so high, but we continue to march to the pumps and fill up our gas tanks like so many zombie drones.

    Buy a hybrid car or even a full electric or natural gas car. Better yet, go car-free (or at least car-lite), using public transit or a bicycle to get to work. That’s what I’ve been doing since I totaled my car last December. I’ve saved bucket-loads of money by simply not buying a new car (car payments, fuel, insurance, maintenance, taxes, inspection, etc.) and I’m in better shape than I’ve been in a while.

    A couple books on the subject are How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life by Chris Balish and Divorce Your Car! : Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile by Katharine T. Alvord.

  4. Kim Siever
    May 10, 2007 at 2:09 pm #

    In addition, this does nothing to affect the price of wholesale gas where the big oil companies make their money (and for those that own them) and use to subsidise the costs of their service stations.

    Considering as well, how the vast majority of the cost of gasoline is tied up in extraction, processing, refining and taxes, it is a wonder anyone thinks not buying retail gas on a single day will change the price of gas.

    For that matter, maybe American should try buying retail gas in other countries. Then they may see how the have some of the cheapest gasoline in th world. Gas in my city currently, for example, is $4.50 a gallon.

  5. Kelly Winterton
    May 10, 2007 at 2:29 pm #

    Holy cow, $4.50 per gallon! Germany has far higher gas prices than USA, but their high cost is mostly the result of very high gas taxes. But their high gas taxes fund almost perfect roads, never a pothole anywhere and instant snow removal, etc. and also funds about the world’s best public transportation system.

    Another point – Germans don’t have to drive very far in the first place. Their country is small, and most errands can be done on foot because of walking-sized communities. Utah on the other hand is so stretched out in distances. I could only walk to the store if I had all day. The nearest Wal-Mart is about 15 miles.

  6. Connor
    May 16, 2007 at 9:52 am #

    Pursuant to Greg’s suggestion, I filled up my car with gasoline yesterday. 🙂

  7. Kelly Winterton
    May 16, 2007 at 11:31 am #

    Gas outlets probably thought they’d RAISE their price the day after to pay back all their customers who didn’t buy gas on the 15th. If I were a station owner, I’d use the boycott as an excuse to RAISE prices, not lower them.

    I got gas yesterday also, and talked to the station owner about the boycott. The owner thought the boycott no big deal.

    I figure if you want to do any protesting of gas prices, you should use less gas to begin with, and then don’t buy candy bars in the station when you do have to buy gas.

  8. Kelly Winterton
    July 17, 2007 at 5:38 pm #

    Well, here we are some 3 months after the Gas Protest. Did it work? Gas prices are now down about 30 cents from May!

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