Gas boycott would not work, despite Facebook campaigns

Boycott and protest

Gas prices have gone up again and the gas boycott emails are going around again, and a gas boycott still will not work. Photo Credit: Fibonnaci Blue/Flickr.com/CC-BY

There have been a prodigious number of chain emails and social media campaigns over the years calling for a gas boycott. The idea is that if people everywhere don’t buy gasoline for a day, it will force gas companies to lower gas prices and stop gouging their customers. The trouble with this idea is that a gas boycott won’t do a thing.

Chain letters rile up the masses

Every time that the price of gas starts to rise, someone inexorably begins circulating an extremely old saw: the “gas boycott” chain letter. The premise is simple; it starts along the lines of “enough is enough” and “the oil companies are ripping us off” and calls for people everywhere to not buy gasoline on a certain date. If, the chain message postulates, everyone will resist buying gasoline, the evil, suit-swaddled corporate bosses of the oil companies will be so hurt by the lost revenue that they will have no choice but to stop gouging their customers and lower the price of gas.

Gas prices set by speculators

Oil companies like Exxon-Mobil, British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell would love to charge less for gasoline to get people to buy more. However, it does not work that way. For one, according to Snopes, a gas boycott would only cut into the revenue of gas stations who have to buy their supply from the parent company. The cost of a gallon of gas depends on numerous factors, beginning with extracting the crude oil, which accounts for about 69 percent of the price of gas, according to AOL. Refining petroleum into gas, transporting gasoline to a refueling station and state, local and federal taxes are part of the total price.

Boycott Wall Street instead

Fluctuations in the price of gas have more to do with speculators, i.e. energy investors and commodity brokers, than with actual supply. For instance, oil and gas prices began spiking when political upheaval started in earnest in the Middle East. Libya is not a major exporter of oil to the United States, and neither is Egypt, Tunisia or Syria. In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, the country the U.S. imports most of its oil from is Canada. It has more to do with the possibility of a supply interruption rather than an actual supply interruption, which causes commodity markets to raise the price, not suppliers. The only interruption in crude oil supplies was when U.S. based refineries recently stopped importing oil when they closed for spring maintenance and cut slightly deeper into existing supplies after the maintenance cycle was over, according to Reuters.

Sources

Snopes

AOL News

Reuters

Energy Information Administration

 

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