Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A LETTER TO A FRIEND - The Gas Man's Got Us Down


This is an excerpt from a response to an email I received about boycotting Exxon to protest higher gas prices. I'm sure many of you have seen some version of this email several times over the years. I encourage everyone to do everything possible to stand up to oil profiteers and the politicians who support them, including curtailing driving as much as possible. Do everything, that is, except continue to forward this email!


Hi (name withheld),

It's good to hear from you! I totally feel you on these ridiculous gas prices and I don't buy Exxon either--although it's usually because they have some of the most expensive gas here in California. However, my friend Liz and others have pointed out to me that some version of this boycott has been going around the Internet forever and while it seems like a good idea--it IS a good idea in theory--it's not necessarily the most effective protest action because Exxon/Mobil is merely one of a consortium of oil companies, all of which are profiteering equally from the American dependency on crude oil. The only effective protest would be an impossible one--if the vast majority of Americans stopped buying any gas from ALL suppliers for at least two weeks. In many parts of the country, this is impossible because alternative means of transportation are unavailable or unreliable. Even if this could somehow happen, in a month the oil companies would recover their losses and eventually return to their greedy ways.

Also, it is not the oil companies who are currently behind this latest bit of price gouging, although they do benefit...somewhat. The distributors in this country and the oil refiners have gotten together to artificially hike prices until at least the advent of the summer vacation season, citing "distribution shortages" and various short term excuses (like the Mississippi River barge crash) as their reasoning. I think we should write to our Congresspeople and tell them not to accept money from oil and gas lobbies and try to look out for consumers for once! (Crude oil prices have gone up about 10 percent since the beginning of the year, but gasoline prices have gone up about 25 percent in the same time span. It's the refiners and oil suppliers who are getting rich here.)

Nonetheless, it's good to hear from you and stay committed to the cause of making people aware of the evil that corporations perpetrate on us every day!