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Could the "Great Gas Out" actually work? Maybe, but only in the short term.

Since about 1997,  a meme has been travelling through the Internet that by somehow not buying gas on a certain day, the oil companies will somehow lower the prices. Called the "Great Gas Out" the idea is a one day boycott of gasoline. Actually, it isn't even a boycott, because a boycott means you stop using the product. Unfortunately, most of us can't stop using gasoline.

With the Great Gas Out, the idea is to not buy gas on a certain day (March 14, 2011), and the proponents keep claiming that it "worked." The reality is that in the long view, it hasn't worked. I'm going from memory here, but When the Gas Out one-day boycott began, gasoline cost less than $1.50 a gallon.  It now costs almost $4 a gallon. If that means one day boycotts "work," then I wonder what would happen if they didn't work [GASP!] 

But a one day boycott could work in the short term by fueling a backlog in the line of supply.

Right now there are abundant supplies of gasoline in California at the refinery, due largely to lower than expected demand. And when there is too much of a backlog of fuel in the sytem, the only way to get rifd of it is to export it, or lower the price.  So in a perverse way, one day boycotts can have a meaningful impact on short term price movements, such as what happens in the next week.

So do one day boycotts work? Sort of.  As long as enough people participate. Although the best type of boycott is the kind where you stop actually buying the product - that's activism. Anything else is what some cynics call "slacktivism."