best website stats
We have moved our website permanently to our domain at This website will remain available as an archive, but new content will be posted exclusively to

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stupid Facebook Groups

The other day a friend on Facebook invited me to join a group that struck me as astonishingly stupid. To be fair, there are many far stupider groups on Facebook, but I wanted to hold this one up to particular ridicule for a couple reasons. It has 396,582 members and I've been invited more than once, so it's not obscure, and it's stupid in a way that deserves a response. Actually, it looks like people spend quite a bit of time arguing about it on the group's wall, but why anyone would watse time debating on facebook walls is beyond me.

The groups is called "How to get GAS back down to $1.30 per gallon," and advocates the following course of action:
The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, WE CAN DO IT WITHOUT HURTING OURSELVES.How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war. Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL.
If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.
But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It's really simple to do! Now, don't wimp out on me at this point...keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. I suggest that we not buy from EXXON/MOBIL UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $2.00 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.
Despite the all-caps declaration to the contrary, this cannot work, and furthermore, the idea that there are quick, easy, and painless solutions to our energy needs isn't helpful to actually addressing the problem.

A critical flaw (among many) in this argument should be obvious in this statement; "If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit." If the demand for the "other companies" gas remains high then there is no reason for them to reduce prices. Assuming that in this fantasy land everyone stops buying from Exxon Mobil then demand for gas from the other companies goes up. The total demand of gas and the total supply of gas remains the same, and so the only effect is increased profits to some firms at the expense of Exxon Mobil. It's called a boycott.

Virtually every step in the argument has either a logical or practical flaw. The bottom line is that it requires a gross misunderstanding of supply and demand theory to make sense. The only way to reduce gas prices is to increase supply or reduce demand, or both. Increasing the supply is beyond our power, and probably not even a good thing to do (how many more metric tons of CO2 per year should we be generating?). Reducing the demand can be accomplished by driving less and developing substitutes for gas powered transportation. Mass transit, alternative energy, and more efficient land use are all part of that package, and that's why responsible Presidential candidates like Clinton and Obama have proposed measures to that end.

John McSame hasn't.

People, please think about these things before you join a Facebook group, or at least before you invite me to join a Facebook group.

Click "There's more..." for the whole gripe-fest.