Saturday, August 2, 2008

Gas Boycotts

They are failures. Complete and utter failures. The most recent one I've seen is a boycott specifically targeted at Exxon Mobil. I just want to point out the obvious reasons this is a failure.

For boycotts to work, they have to have a strong base of people who are connected to each other. They need to have punishments for breaking boycott in forms of public scorning/shaming. They need to have reasonable time line. This gas boycott has none of these things.

Lets say, in some retarded happenstance of sorts, that a gas boycott actually gets started. Of course not everyone will follow, but lets say that a chunk goes. All of the other gas companies get an influx of costumers. Following the rule of demand, as they get more costumers they will raise their prices. As the price rises the incentive to switch to the now "cheaper" gas prices at Exxon Mobil rises. Since the boycott is nationwide and very loose, the punishment in a form of social shaming is very low. Costumers falter.

Since Exxon Mobile is a huge corporations their long term incentives for keeping prices the same is greater than the short incentives of gaining more costumers back. Their time scale is much more flexible than the boycotts because there is no way to keep the majority of participants interested/willing a long time.


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