I just spotted the following meme making its way around MySpace—I’m leaving the whole thing as-written, so I don’t have to litter the text with “sic” for each of the myriad little errors:
On May 15th all myspace members are to not go to the gas station in protest high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most places. There are 72,110,073 members currently on the network, and the average car takes about 20 to 30 dollars to fill up. If all myspace members did not go to the pump on the 15th it would take $2,163,302,190.00 out of the oil companys pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May 15th and lets try to put a dent in the oil industry for at least one day.
If you agree repost this bulletin..
This is stupid on a couple of levels. First, of course, it almost certainly has no significant net effect on oil company profits if people skip the pumps one day without otherwise changing their driving behavior: They’ll just end up having to buy more gas on the 14th or the 16th to compensate. In the highly unlikely event that enough people complied to make some kind of noticable effect on that day’s sales, you might be able to make some kind of symbolic point, but you wouldn’t be putting any kind of “dent” in the industry.
Second, and more importantly, it makes it seem as though the oil companies all get together somewhere and decide what oil prices are going to be, so some kind of show of dissatisfaction like this will make them mend their ways. Oil companies and gas stations will always charge exactly the same price for gas: Whatever they can get away with, given demand (current and projected) and production costs (ditto). If some company or station thought it were viable to charge a quarter less, they’d do it and draw off all the business from competing stations. Of course, if people actually changed their long term consumption behavior to use less gas, prices might drop. But then, you don’t need to organize boycotts for that to happen—that’d just be the price system working.