On Gas Boycott Day

Fill Up Your Tanks on Gas Boycott Day!

by Greg Perry by Greg Perry


They’re coming once again this year by the gas-guzzling carload! They are emails from friends and family, well-intentioned folk who want to make things better by doing something. They don’t understand cause and effect and they don’t understand freedom or economics but that’s often because they are recovering public school graduates.

A year ago, before May 15th, the emails pounded us then too. Each year they think they are part of an important movement to bring the gas companies to their knees.

Oh, my dear friends and family… They know not what they do. But they grasp onto whatever might work whether or not that grasping will be effective. They hate high gas prices as much as you and I. They aren’t going to take it anymore! They are going to boycott the gas stations tomorrow. No fill-ups for you!

We’ll Do the Opposite

As for me and my household, we plan to fill up both of our cars on the 15th. I will take both my parents’ cars to fill them up. In addition, I will have my 5-gallon fuel cans in my truck that we use around the home in the tractor and mowers and fill them up on May 15th too.

I want to do my part to help fix the damage that well-intentioned — and wrong — people who think this boycott is a good thing will do.

Sidebar: The Flywheel Movie

Not coincidentally, many of my friends and family are Christians. That is fine but the sad thing is that they consider themselves Republicans and conservatives too. They, in general, are not actually true and traditional conservatives. They’re a mish-mesh of people who like some Neocon ideas but not all of them, they like some John Birch ideas but not all of them, they are pro-gun (after all, they are my friends), generally want fewer laws and regulations, but they also think something should be done about the high gas prices and if the government won’t fix prices then we should.

I realize I sound as though I’m getting off the subject here but stay with me a few moments. An Alabama church produced a wonderful movie a couple of years ago named Flywheel. These were the same people who produced the Facing the Giants football movie last year. Flywheel was good family fare and had a strong Christian message that many of my friends and family understandably latched onto.

They did not latch onto the huge error in the movie though and that makes me sad. Flywheel was about a used car salesman. A man who lied and then lied some more to sell cars at prices the cars didn’t deserve. He would lie about the car’s history, he would lie about the car’s current condition, he would lie about how much he paid for the car, and he would lie about financing. Anything to make a sale and forget about the buyer once he or she drove off the lot.

The used car dealer had a conversion. He soon became a Christian and realized he was stealing from the very people he should be serving. So far, so good. The problem was, instead of focusing on the lies and outright fraud, you went the last half of the movie hearing about how he made too much profit on each vehicle and how he would never do that again. He would never charge more for a car than a normal, average profit. Whatever that is. He would never try to get the maximum dollar out of every vehicle that left his lot again.

If he were not agonizing in hell right now, Karl Marx would be so proud of the writers and Christian viewers who agree with that stupid thinking.

It was his lying and fraudulent misrepresentation about the cars that was wrong. That was his sin. His problem was not the fact that he bought cars at a low price and sold them for as much as he could.

And therein lies the problem with the gas-boycotting public.

If the car dealer would become truthful about his cars, and he ended up doing that, then all things being equal he would not have made as much money as before. That is true. And that would be good because profiting from fraud is wrong, it’s a breach of trust, it’s a breach of an implied trust contract.

The actual profit margin itself was not the sin and in a free market economy; he should be able to buy a product for as low as he can possibly buy it for and sell it for as much as he can possibly sell it for. Without the lies. Then, only when he is truly serving his customers in an honest, fraud-free fashion, would he be successful.

Back to the Gasoline — It’s the Same Response

Gasoline should be a market commodity.

Sellers should be able to sell gasoline at their top dollar and every intermediary between the ground and your tank should be able to charge the most they can charge — assuming they do not do so fraudulently.

Until Republicans and conservatives and Christians (not always the same in reality) learn to grasp simple market economics — as well I might add Biblical principles — that promote freedom of money, they will fail at such efforts. That’s right the Bible promotes free markets and nothing less. Jesus was a free-market Economist! He said a man should be able to do with his own money whatever he wishes. That also means company resources, including business capital and pricing which was the context of that very story. Obviously a man should not waste money that would otherwise have to be used to feed his family. He should not steal for money. Jesus was smart enough not to go into all those details to make His point.

There Is Someone We Should Boycott

If we want to make a difference in gas prices, then we should boycott those who do not use the free market to sell gasoline at prices the market will bear:

  • We should immediately boycott all enviro-friendly companies who promote wind turbines and solar energy, both of which are highly governmentally-subsidized industries. Solar power and wind power are so dramatically inefficient that cities, companies, and individuals can only use those inefficient power-generating sources when you and I pay tax credits the government rewards them.
  • We should immediately demand that all government-controlled intrusion into the fuel industry cease immediately. This means that tax subsidies to oil and gas companies should halt immediately and all subsidies to all the other fuel-based firms I mentioned above. We should put pressure, not just sending letters, but calling every congressman’s home and work day and night by the millions until they stop. It’s just as wrong to subsidize the coal and gasoline industry as the inefficient fuel industries. Subsidies ultimately harm the country and raise prices. How can we get a campaign of such massive calling? We’d have time if we weren’t busy designing mindless, ineffective boycotts.
  • We should immediately require that all regulations put on refineries in the past 30 years be lifted by noon tomorrow. Again, this means calling, by the millions, congressmen and others in power such as the regulators. Call their homes, the places of business they frequent, and we should make their lives horrible, as they’ve made ours, until they stop allowing regulations — instead of Law — be the rule the land.
  • We should immediately buy stock in the oil and gas companies. These are public companies. That means you and I can be owners of these Exxon and Conoco. If we do that then when they make profits our income goes up. It’s not some hidden bigwigs who only profit when a company earns money, it’s every shareholder. If a company is making extraordinary profits and we don’t buy even one share of stock, then we should not cry foul because someone else who did purchase a share has more money at the end of the year than we do.

If we insist on the boycott then we should have reversed the boycott in the 1980s. If boycotting gasoline now when we perceive that prices are high then we should have sent those companies money in the form of giving them a helping hand all those years they barely stayed alive such as in the 1980s when oil fell to $18 a barrel. Only someone who helped those companies financially when they had losses have the right to complain and boycott if the companies now have too much profit!

But I can hear the wheels turning in the heads of readers about that! Just what is "too much profit?" I promise you that Karl Marx would tell you they’ve had too much profit ever since they made more than 1 penny in profit. Conservatives have become exactly what they always used to despise — Socialists — who are envious when someone makes a lot of money all of a sudden. If the oil companies and gasoline distributors could have made runaway profits in the 1980s they would have! What changed? Not them! The governmental intrusion, the environmentalist blockage of domestic oil drilling, and the terrorist-like environmental blockage of new refineries — those are what changed and are new to today’s picture.

Lying and stealing and fraud should be illegal whether a company makes profits or not. Just because Exxon made more money last year than they ever have does not mean they did so wrongfully. They would sell their gas at higher prices if the market allowed them to but they would also lower their prices immediately if the market required them to do so! That is, if we had a free market.

We have no free market in the world of energy. The government regulators, most often driven by a steep minority of the population who are environmentally psychotic, control what happens in most instances.

Gas Companies Are Not Stupid

The gas companies were not stupid when they had years of losses, when oil was $18 per barrel! They were not stupid then. They simply did the best they could and made then the most money they could make back then.

They are making the most money they can make now too. Making money is not wrong. Making a lot of money is not wrong.

Market conditions are allowing them to finally make high profits.

There is no proof all the gas companies are in collusion with each other. There is no proof that the refineries are in collusion with each other. There is no proof that Arab oil nations are… well, actually they probably are in collusion with one another but they break agreements with each other faster than I change my socks. And why are they even in the picture? Why aren’t we tapping into our nation’s resources off-shore and in Alaska and elsewhere? It’s not because the drillers don’t want to and it’s not because they are fond of Arab oil nations. It’s because foreign oil is their only option at this time. Plus there are not enough refineries to refine what they do buy from overseas.

So a one-day boycott is going to make your local Conoco station lower their price at the pump? That is absurd and even though the emails you’re passing around make ridiculous statements such as, "it would take $2,163,302,190.00 out of the oil company’s pockets for just one day." You’re doing little more than rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks.

Guess what? Conoco does not really want Exxon to make a profit! And vice-versa! If Conoco thought it would get more customers by lowering its price by 1 penny, and it could afford to do that, Conoco would have already done that.

It’s called competition.