Gas Prices: Boycott or Slow Down?

Letter to the Editor

Re: No Gas Fridays

The letter by Pete Hodgins Sr. (July 11, 2008) prompts me to write to you, to consider another alternative to boycotting gas companies in order to get prices down.

Gas prices are high because we keep paying those high prices. Price is what the market will bear. If we all stopped buying so much gas, its price would soon drop, to entice us to buy more of it. This result comes from basic marketing principles.

So how can we get gas prices down? Consider two ways of doing so: first, a boycott method, and second, by slowing down to drive at the speed limit. The second way is much more effective.

The boycott method does not have any real impact in reducing overall gas consumption; it merely spreads it around. But, with the second scheme, slowing down to drive at the speed limit, one realizes at least three benefits: (1) consumption of less gas, and thus spending less money, (2) a sense of contributing to helping the earth’s environment, and (3) a peacefulness of slowing down one's life.

I believe that environmental movements, including boycott schemes, will not succeed unless people actively adopt conservation principles at the grassroots level. Top-down pressures by government regulations, tariffs, quotas, and so on will not win over individual people to change their lifestyles. Only bottom-up awareness and personal, individual desire to contribute will create fundamental change in peoples’ lives.

Slowing down our driving, and then our lives, has the potential to allow us to relax from the pace of our modern rat races, to the point that we can take the next evolutionary step in maturity—spiritual maturity—whereby we are attuned with the needs of our earth and all of mankind’s humanity. Such attunement and the caring that will result cannot be forced by boycotts or regulations, but must come from within. Our very survival depends on it.

William Bezanson
Ottawa, Canada

(William Bezanson is a writer living in Ottawa. His book — Why Are Gas Prices So High? — elaborates on the theme of this letter.)