En masse Email forwarding can be a good thing, but oft times the Email received reeks of conventional wisdom. Comfortable, convenient and seldom concerned with the truth and reality.
Recently, I forwarded an Email calling for the boycott of Exxon Mobil gas stations. I mean I forwarded it to everyone in my address book , damn near. But I was struck by the familiarityof the Email. I get that Email every year at the same time–just as gas prices spike in anticipation of a growing demand during what is typically the American driving season, Spring and Summer. One can only assume that ritualistic forwarding of an Email calling for the boycott of an oil company is a weak response to stratospheric gas prices. Seriously, I have seen that Email at least four times and gas prices have never gone down as a result. Assuming, of course, that people actually boycott Exxon Mobil.
I can offer some speculation and conjecture as to why this seems to be the case. First, there are 170, 000 gas stations in the United States. Only 13,000 of them are owned by Exxon Mobil. Of that 13,000 all of them are franchised out except 1,000. So we are probably only hurting the little guy. Second, there is the notion of supply and demand. Remember last Summer when Katrina hit? That was gas prices on steroids. But something else was noticeable. The gas prices went up, and owners of gas stations said that one of the reasons they raised prices was because they had to protect their supply. That’s right, they raised their prices in order to discourage consumers from purchasing gas. Thereby extending their gas supply. So what do you suppose would happen if a large portion of the market boycotts Exxon and goes to, say, Diamond Shamrock? Right again, the prices at Diamond Shamrock go up. Then, the market moves on to another gas station, probably, and then more of the same. I’m sure you see the irony, but I’ll point it out anyway. In an attempt to bring the gas prices down, they could actually escalate.
I guess the only thing that is going to work long term is for the market to reduce its demand. The usual suspects: walk more; if you must drive, chain more errands together in one trip and so on. But there is one thing that you may not have considered. Get rid of that SUV, or oversized pickup.
True story: Recently, I fueled up at Citgo. While waiting for the tank to fill I noticed another guy driving a Yukon fueling up. He was shaking his head in disbelief as he stared at the pump read out. I was shaking my head in disbelief, too. I couldn’t believe he didn’t see it coming. Seriously, what is an SUV, or over sized pickup, if not a vulgar petroleum sucking black hole? A status symbol? Sounds desperate.
Okay, I’ll get off my soap box.