On October 4th, I'm asking people to stop fishing. That's right. If we don't fish for one day, it will tell the sea that we mean business. One day of fishing save the lives of hundreds of thousands of fish. We can increase the numbers of these fish by just not fishing on that day.
Yes, the above is sarcasm. I (as well as many of you) have heard that today, May 15th, we should not purchase gasoline. If no one purchases gas on this single day, it will send a message to 'big oil' that we mean business as they will lose millions of dollars that day. This will make the companies sell it cheaper because there will be a surplus onhand and prices will continue to drop.
I got that email a few years ago. Got it again a few weeks ago. Economically, it's unsound but sounds good philosophically. Yes, striking out against something you have little control over does feel good. But, I've just been trying to wrap my brain around the numbers behind the whole 'strike.'
I'm going to exaggerate for a moment. Let's say that everyone fills their gas tank every 3 days. (I believe it is much less often... like 4 to 5 days for me but I know Lora probably fills up more because she drives a lot and there are SUV owners out there.) That means that 33% of us might regularly get gas on the 15th. So, this excludes 67% from the 'boycott' right off the bat.
In an effort to participate, someone cutting it close will purchase gas the day before while someone with more in the tank will do so the next day. If not a risk-taker, you probably would buy the day before which gives the company an early profit. Many will. If you do so later, there is a slight chance of a price increase. So, gas will still be purchased and, if going to your favorite neighborhood station, possibly from the same tank below the pump you might have used otherwise. The same consumption still occurs and the monthly statements still look good for the company.
In my talks with many people on this topic, many believe Exxon, Shell and other companies watch some daily numbers that are given to them by all the gas stations nationwide. Or, some ticker in an executive office that shows how much is being pumped minute per minute. For some reason, I don't see either as rational. Gas usage is measured weekly, though, by the Energy Information Administration and measured after the tanks are refilled.
Anyhow, my point is that not using something for a day is a noble feat. Not purchasing something at a particular moment, is a statement. To actually impact the price of the product, one would have to decrease scarcity and demand. Otherwise, it is like a junkie crying in front of their dealer. The buyer knows they have to have it and the seller knows. If said junkie stopped using, the dealer might worry. If all his junkies decreased use, he'd probably advertise more... make better deals.
Before posting this, I found that Snopes.com had an article on this very May 15th 'gas out.' There have even been events held to not purchase from particular companies. The idea behind that had flaws also as many purchase from the same refineries. I just notice that we don't have a Don't Use Tuesday or Gas Free Friday. Economically, it smells less fishy.