Lazy and Stupid

by Charles Miller on May 20, 2004

It has been calculated that if everyone in the united states did not purchase a drop of gasoline for one day and all at the same time, the oil companies would choke on their stockpiles. at the same time it would hit the entire industry with a net loss of over 4.6 billion dollars which affects the bottom lines of the oil companies therefore may 19th has been formally declared "stick it to them day" and the people of this nation should not buy a single drop of gasoline that day.

So goes this week's annoying email forward (although I had the courtesy to convert it from its original all-caps ugliness).

The stupidity of the whole exercise staggers me. That anyone could believe that a day of not buying gasoline would have even the slightest effect on the oil producers' bottom lines is a sad indictment on people's willingness to ignore inconvenient facts. The inability to perform simple mathematics ($4.6 billion being $16 for every man, woman and child in America, each of whom may or may not own a car, with each car being filled up once or twice a week) is equally depressing.

Then factor in things like the amount of oil that goes to other things (like, say, electricity production). Then figure that everyone will just fill up their slightly-more-empty-than-usual gas tanks on the 20th, having performed their patriotic duty the day before.

The email campaign is, in essence, the answer to the question: "What's the smallest and least effective thing we can do, and yet still feel we're sticking it to those damn A-rabs?" Legislating for more fuel-efficient cars? Too difficult. Removing the insane tax-breaks that make SUVs so cheap and common on the USA? Too difficult. Increasing the quality of public transport? Just too hard. Find ways to reduce personal electrical consumption? No way! We might have to do without!. Promoting research into- and the use of alternative fuel sources? Way too difficult!

Let's just forward stupid emails instead. That'll make us feel better. Yeah.

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