Continuing on the gas theme

My sweet sister Spitfire sent this email forward out to the rest of the family.

FW: No Gas On May 15th 2007

Don't pump gas on MAY 15th
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 lets try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day.

If you agree resend this to all your contact list. With it saying, ''Don't pump gas on May 15th"

Within 30 minutes of receiving her email, I sent her a link to the Urban Legends Reference Pages article debunking the idea and my other sister Jenny supplied a similar article. Because we're just rabid, rabid wolves like that who live for this kind of thing so we can swoop in and start picking off the young vulnerable herd members with our rightness and Internet sleuthing skills. Spitfire is very good about it--she knows this is our way.

My article says one-day gas-outs don't really have an effect (and never have, according to Jen's article--that bit about 1997 is totally made up) because people aren't buying less gas, they're just buying it on a different day. It doesn't bother the oil companies because they know we'll just be filling up on the 14th or the 16th. Driving & consumption habits haven't actually changed.

If we wanted to make a difference we would need to actually cut down our gas consumption, either through carpooling, biking, public transportation or even just plain planning our schedules better so that we make less trips. Everyone complains about the high gas prices, but it's easier to complain and make namby-pamby protest attempts (which don't actually cost us anything or inconvenience our lives in any way) than it is to give up the convenience of driving everywhere, all the time.

Take the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Those people found alternate transportation for a year until the law changed and the buses were desegregated. The personal inconvenience was worth the message they were trying to send out and the changes they were trying to effect. There was none of this "Well, we'll just ride the bus at a different time of day, and that'll show 'em" silliness.

So sure, I'll stay away from the gas pump on May 15. I don't think it'll make a difference, though. If people didn't buy gas for a month then we might see something. And I'll just look for more occasions to ride my bike, secure in the knowledge that in my own small way I'm Sticking it to the Man.


Cicada said... [reply]

I got this email today, too. My big problem with it is this:

"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... that's assuming that all internet users fill up their cars every day. You have to factor in how often the average person fills up their car before you say how much not filling up on one day will "cost" the gas companies.

And yes, I'm a smug bike commuter.

chosha said... [reply]

The key is that when you seek alternative transport, if you're doing it because of the price of gas, write and tell them that. That way they don't need to wonder about falling sales, because there's a direct link between prices and consumer action staring them right in the face. And there's a calculation that they use, too, to calculate the number of disgruntled consumers, like for every one that wrote a letter there's a thousand who felt the same but didn't write. The number for a phone call is less.

blackjazz said... [reply]

I agree that the logic is wrong, but so is the sentiment behind it. Far from being decreased, it's time that US "gas" prices got real. They should double, at least.

daltongirl said... [reply]

Sticking it to The Man is way hotter than having gnats in your ears.

Kristeee said... [reply]

If public transportation methods were as good as they are in other parts of the world, I'd quit driving. But because we all think public transportation (I'm talking Utah) sucks, we don't want to pay for it to be expanded, so public transportation keeps sucking. Seriously - from my old house in Orem it was a 45 minute ride plus a bus change either at the Mall or at UVSC to get to BYU - 7 miles away. That sucks.

Sakhmet said... [reply]

Amen, Black Jazz! I think we'd find all sorts of support for public transportation if gas was six bucks a gallon.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Blackjazz, are you saying that because we're not paying as much as Brits we shouldn't complain? You'll remember it's not Americans who are known for their "mustn't grumble" mentality . . .

And even if our prices are lower than other people's that still doesn't mean they're not a rip-off. Don't you wish your petrol costs less?

kristen said... [reply]

I'm so glad you followed up that email with the fact that people will just fill up on the 14th or 16th; I never understood the logic of not filling up on a certain day.

Gas prices are higher in other countries because there are heavy taxes added to them. That's the last thing we need in this country--more taxes.

My issue is this: Why aren't we drilling in ANWR? How come we haven't opened any new refineries in TWENTY-FIVE years? 25 years people. There's something wrong with that. We need to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. Sure we need to look into alternative sources of energy, but that takes time; we need to use the resources we DO have in the meantime.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

One thing that bothers me about stuff like this is that it always just focuses on the economic benefits to people (i.e. trying to lower gas prices rather than trying to help the environment). But the truth is, money talks to people more than a lot of other things. For example, most UW students walk or bike to school. That's partly because we're in a liberal, crunchy granola state. It's also because they charge students $250 per quarter for a parking pass. We aren't even allowed to purchase one becasue we live in student housing (we have a special housing sticker but that's all). Imagine if BYU started charging students that much. Besides the fact that everyone would get their panties in a wad because they are cheap and entitled. They could stop building so many ugly parking lots and maybe Utah county would get off the American Lung Association's Top 10 polluted air lists (yes, Utah, Salt Lake, and Cache counties made the top of the list for short-term pollution for the problems they have each winter).

Anyways, sorry I went on such a little rant. I'm with Kristee in my frustration with public transportation versus driving. I love public transit and I love riding my bike. However, if it comes down to walking three blocks, waiting thirty minutes between buses, walking four more blocks, etc. versus hopping in my car and driving, I'm going to keep driving. But if, like here in Seattle, parking is expensive and public transit and bike trails are cheaper and more available, I have more incentive to take alternative forms. That's how I stick it to the man (since living here I only fill up once a month on average).

Azúcar said... [reply]

How about we also stop spending our tax dollars to subsidize oil and gas company drilling and exploration? It would be nice if I didn't have to pay them twice.

We're going to have to buy a new (used) car this year. I'm determined to get a hybrid. Low emissions, low gas costs.

I echo the poor public transport question. I can't wait until we actually get TRAX and other options down here. If we think that just building more freeways will fix our problems, well that would make us California, now wouldn't it?

blackjazz said... [reply]

Miss Nem - you know I'm a sucker for Bill Bryson! But even so...

I'd really like petrol/gas to be *free* in the UK. I resent having to pay so much for the stuff just so that I can travel around. But deep down I know that the use of fuel is having a detrimental impact on the environment in at least 2 important ways:
1. The resources of the earth are finite and precious and should not be wasted.
2. The burning of fossil fuels is polluting the planet and especially the atmosphere.

I'm not saying that we should wind back the clock and all use horses - after all, horses cause pollution too ;-) And I also know that often public transport is not an option. But I am saying that there needs to be financial pressure to stop the waste.

I'm sure there are a lot of people in the US who are conscious of the environment (some have commented on this posting) and I don't want to get into the quoting of statistics. But the important point is that it's clear that the US pollutes the atmosphere too much and uses too much energy per head of population.

The Kyoto Protocol - an international agreement to limit the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases - has been ratified by over 160 countries, but not the US. Why not? Because the politicians believe it would adversely affect the economy and make them unpopular with the electorate.

Of course, failure to act has it's own consequences. The New Orleans economy was affected adversely (!) when the hurricane hit. Proving linkage is obviously difficult, but it's possible that the extreme weather conditions were a result of gradual global climate change brought about by pollution of the atmosphere.

I think there's a lot that could be done to help. For example,
1. Walking or riding a bike for short journeys. (Hooray for you buying a bike!)
2. Being more sensible about heating and cooling homes, such as turning down the thermostat and wearing something warmer when it's cold, or opening a window instead of turning on the air conditioning when it's hot.
3. Using cars that use less fuel.
4. Using energy-saving lights.
5. Turning off lights when not in use.
6. Not leaving the TV on standby.
7. Properly insulating homes.

April said... [reply]

A friend just sent me a gas email today, too! haha I almost sent him a link to this post!

metamorphose said... [reply]

I think I might just email your post to everyone I know -I'm so sick of getting these stupid gas forwards.

Natalie said... [reply]

I just got the opposite email - from a friend who has an in with a big gas supplier. She said to fill up your car TODAY (5/4) because prices will go up substantially tomorrow, and there may be supply shortages.

I wonder if it's true, or if the gas companies just need cash fast.

I must admit, even though I have half a tank in the ol' Windstar, I'll be filling up at Costco today.

Jenna L said... [reply]

I thought you might enjoy this article on Yahoo. It's about the top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks. I found it very amuzing. It doesn't include the gas e-mail but it does include a number of others that I've gotten and some that I haven't.


Anonymous said... [reply]

The phrase is "sticking IT to the man".

"Sticking to the man" is a whole other enchilada.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Hoo boy . . . anon, thanks for catching my typo! Because yeah, I don't so much want to stick to the Man!

Blackjazz, I get you now. I thought you were just calling us whiners before. But it seems like you're actually saying that if it takes hugely inflated gas prices to keep us (the US) from destroying the environment all by ourselves then that's cool with you. And I do see your point.

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