Today is “National Don’t Buy Gas Day”.
The premise of the day is obvious. In order to show your outrage over high gasoline prices, the organizers of the event urge you not to buy gasoline today.
While I vaguely support this endeavor, the problem with such a “protest” is obvious. Since most fuel companies account monthly or quarterly, it is of no consequence to them whether you fill up today or tomorrow.
Fortunately, gas prices do not affect me directly. I use roughly 4 gallons of gasoline per month, and even if gas went to $20/gallon, I could still fill up every week. I wouldn’t be happy about spending $80/month on dinosaur juice, but I could curb a few trips to Pike Place Chowder and Ivar’s to make up the difference.
Also, living where I do, I have the choice to walk, bike, or take public transit whenever I wish. I live more or less on top of the Seattle Transit Tunnel, and I have lived quite comfortably using zero gallons per month. Well, perhaps not comfortably. I love my little 125cc scooter as much as a man can love an inanimate object.
Gas prices do indirectly affect me in many other areas, however, especially living in geographically-isolated Seattle.
The higher the cost of fuel, the more it costs Frito Lay to deliver my potato chips to the far corner of the nation. In turn this increases the price I have to pay for those potato chips. Replace “potato chips” with just about anything, and you can see how quickly high gas prices add up and drains wealth from all of us here in secluded Washington. Even if we don’t own cars.
Because of this, the price of gas concerns me on a broader level.
One of the fascinating things about American culture is that white people fret non-stop about foreign wars and wring their hands ad-nauseum about climate change. Usually, when I declare climate change to be a specious issue, they shout me down as if I were Satan himself.
The great irony is that I don’t contribute to any of the problems these folks try to convince me exists. This makes me wonder. Do they really believe what they are saying?
After all, if I truly believed in God, and believed that a fiery pit awaited me for being a bad guy, no amount of temptation in the world would get me to tap Jessica Hahn. Also, if I believed New York would be underwater in 50 years if I kept driving … I’d stop driving.
Those who drive while protesting the evils of foreign wars, however, tend to drive. A lot. Clearly they have even less faith in their claims than I do. I’ve never been a fan of the “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy, and when I call these people out for driving, they make 1,000 excuses as to why they really have no choice.
Of course, they do have a choice, they’ve just made the one that goes against their own self-professed ideals.
Deep-down, I know that I am preaching to a deaf audience, but I am going to do it anyway.
If you are reading this … please, I implore you … explore alternative methods of transit besides the private automobile.
Walking, bicycling, scooting, and mass transit will not just save you money, it will help your city, state, and even country.
If enough people take alternative methods of transit, here is what happens:
1) Demand for gasoline falls;
2) Because demand for gasoline falls, gasoline prices fall;
3) Because gasoline prices fall; trucks, buses, and airplanes pay less for gasoline;
4) Since transit is highly factored into consumer prices, prices for consumer goods fall, or at least go up less;
5) Lower prices for consumer goods help those in the middle class and below afford food, goods, healthcare, and … everything;
6) Traffic is reduced;
7) Money spent to facilitate traffic is reduced;
8) The air is cleaner;
I don’t think I need to preach very hard here in Urban Seattle. According to the Census — Downtown, Belltown, First Hill, and Capitol Hill have the lowest automobile usage in the state. That’s why I like this part of the city better than any other neighborhood on earth.
Obviously, however, my plea will fall on deaf ears in the outer suburbs. As far as people in Redmond are concerned, we can all eat cake. Contrary to what they say at dinner parties, these folks don’t care if your Uncle Cletus steps on an IED. They don’t care about polar bears and their habitats. They just want to drive across the 520 Bridge, and they want to look oh-so-good while doing it. After all, what’s the point of having money if strangers don’t know you have it?
The rest of you, though. Our brothers and sisters in Northgate, Magnolia, and West Seattle … I think you care. Even though you shake your fists at evil bicycle lanes on 125th street, I think you’re just slightly misguided. A little off the tracks. I would be willing to bet that at least half of you who drive every day, don’t have to.
Seattle has a decent transit system. No, it’s not perfect, and yes it needs to get better — but it’s pretty good.
As I write this, more buses are being added to shuttle people from the outer areas of Seattle:
http://blog.seattlepi.com/transportation/2011/04/14/u-s-house-approves-21-million-for-rapidride-b-line/ (warning, do not click from a mobile device as your browser will be hijacked by an advertisement)
So, grab your Android tablet, take your Zune, grab a copy of the Seattle Weekly (they have great hooker ads in the back), and relax on your way into work. Why drive when you can be driven?
One day boycotts of gas stations are little more than mental masturbation. If you want to make a difference, reduce your overall gas usage by 10%, 20%, 50%, or even 100%.
This will bring gas prices down, will curb inflation, will prevent the deaths of millions of innocent people … and it will help the world in more ways than you can imagine.