Wednesday, November 9, 2011

About boycotting gasoline (written in 2004 when gas hit $2/gal) (June 2, 2008)

Current mood: cynical

This was written December 2, 2004. A barrel of oil was $45; today, June 2, 2008, it's almost $130. Gasoline was topping $2/gallon; today it's approaching $4. I hate to have to tell y'all, but the current state of affairs isn't anything we couldn't see coming. Now they're saying, better figure on $12 to $15 per gallon, more likely sooner than later.

The solution, like a baby, is easy to conceive but hard to deliver: Stop driving.

OK, enough. Back to 12/2/2004, copied/pasted from my original Word document.


About Boycotting Gasoline

Copyright © 2004 Stuart M. Strickland
Whenever the price of gasoline spikes, someone starts a movement urging people to support a one-day boycott of gasoline.  What does that prove?  Not buying gas on one day merely moves the buying of the gas to a different day.  To those who sell us the gas, it doesn't matter one whit on their weekly balance sheets whether you bought five gallons on both Monday and Friday, or ten gallons on Friday.

Instead, figure out how to go a single day without using the car at all, and do it on a day when you have to go out, not one when it's convenient to stay home.  How?  That is precisely the point. Carpool. Walk. Bicycle. Take a bus. Shop or run errands using the telephone, the Internet, a postage stamp, or, heaven forbid, your own two feet. Whatever. Just don't drive, for just one day.  

That, dear friends, is a boycott.

Better still, hang up the keys for a full week and go about life.  Ha!  I bet you couldn't even if you wanted to.   I bet you'd also have a lot of company.  I further bet that if you drivers did manage to go car-less for a few days, you would develop a very different perspective on the issue.

Even the concern about $2 gasoline means very little.  True, while the non-inflation-adjusted *price* has never been higher, this is still not the highest *cost* it has ever been.  The $1.10 we paid for each gallon in 1980-1981 works out to over $2.20 in today's dollars.  And anyway, quitcherbellyakin.  In Germany and elsewhere, $4/gallon or more is commonplace.  In fact, aside from tap water and store-brand soda pop, there are few consumer fluids in America that cost less than $2 per gallon.  Not milk, not beer, not vinegar, not even not-on-sale brand-name soda pop.

My guess is that this is only the beginning.  Petroleum demand is very inelastic, meaning that as its price rises, consumption does not decline.  Think about it: With our demand inelastic, demand from India and China rising, and world production flat or declining, there's nothing to keep OPEC, essentially our single alternative source, from saying, "We will sell you all the oil you want to buy, but at our price."  That might be tough to face, but isn't that how it would go in any other business?  Today it's about $45/barrel.  When might it be $75?  $100?  $200?  Would you pay $8/gallon, permanently, if you didn't find another way to get around?  

On that point, it's not a bet but a certainty: Unless Americans start doing what I just suggested, Americans will have to.

1 comment:

bus15237 said...

Remember $2 gasoline? Remember when $2 was considered expensive? It was only seven years ago.