Monday, May 21, 2007

Great Gas Out, a closer look...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I asked someone familiar to us all to grace us with a reply to the recent email message I received entitled: "Don't Pump Gas on May 15th," the text of which you may have via a little interpolation, or, if you prefer, at your request. Mr. Hargis has indeed honored my request with his latest Guest Contribution to this forum. So I withhold from you no longer, and without further ado, Mr. Hargis:

There was an email fwd travelling around the internet exhorting Americans to stay away from the gas pumps on 15 May 2007 in an effort to stick it to Big Oil and the Middle Eastern oil industry. Some questionable numbers were used to show that such a boycott would rob those greedheads of a little over $2 billion. Seems like a good idea, right? Let's look at it a little closer, shall we?

If I see a house for sale and I don't buy it, have I taken anything from the owners? The correct answer is no. If I spend $100 per week on groceries at Save-A-Lot, that doesn't deplete Kroger's bank account at all. Millions of people don't buy Chevrolet Corvettes for all kinds of reasons. The effect is the same as if they'd boycotted them, yet Chevrolet still sells every 'Vette they make. See where I'm going? Not buying a thing isn't the same as taking something away from the seller.

I will be the first to admit that $2 billion is a big chunk of change...but not compared to $500 billion. I don't know what the total yearly revenues of the oil industry amount to, but I'm guessing it's closer to the latter than the former, and probably a lot higher. Furthermore, only a tiny fraction of that $2 billion goes to the oil companies, say 25 cents per gallon. It may even be less than that considering the millions of people involved in drilling, transporting, refining, etc., over which all that money is spread. $2 billion dollars divided by $3 per gallon equals about 670,000,000 gallons of gas. Multiply that by 25 cents and you get $167,500,000. A lot of money, but a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what is spent on the world's oil market. So if 73,000,000 Americans (the email's number) refused to buy gas for one day, the only people who would notice would be those 73,000,000 Americans. It isn't as though the gas won't get sold: Every gallon of gas you don't buy is a gallon freed up for someone else. By the way, if my figure of 25 cents doesn't seem right, feel free to use your own figure.

So, the point is that if you want to stay away from the gas pumps for a day as a symbolic gesture, fine. But don't fool yourself into thinking that your action is going to force some oil company executive to have to fire his maid and start cleaning his own swimming pool. The world oil market is simply too big for you, or even 73,000,000 of you to do that.

-Mike Hargis

5 comments:

Call Me Mom said...

Nicely analyzed Mr. Hargis.

The Monarchist said...

The annual revenue of Exxon Mobil ALONE is in excess of $377B, which makes the e-mail all the more absurd, doesn't it?

-AH

Daniel Webster said...

Whoa! Force him to fire his maid; to clean his own swimming pool??? He probably has to wax his own car too.

Now lookie here, people, we're talking about jobs here. Jobs (that Americans don't want) being lost because 73,000,000 of you decided to get together and deprive the oil companies of a day's wages. This fat-cat oil exec. can't do anything but benefit. Not only is he saving wages he would have otherwise paid, but he probably needs the exercise anyhow. ;)

Samuel Adams said...

Brilliance in brevity, Mr. Hargis, as per usual. Well done, sir!

Instead of "how can I stick it to 'Meester Beeg?'" one should ask, "Dang, how do I get me a piece of THAT pie!"

michael hargis said...

To be honest with you, if 73M people quit buying gas altogether for the rest of their lives, I'm not sure it'd make much difference to anyone but solar powered 3-wheeler makers.

If you took the same number of people and had them not buy a house for one day, would the price of real estate go down? On a personal note, me and the boys down at the watering hole have been holding off buying Ferrari ragtops for a long time in hopes that we could drive the price down to about $20 grand or so, but it ain't happened yet. Hmmmm...