Monday, May 31, 2010

Boycott BP? Not Likely

Some of my left-leaning friends are really outraged about the BP gulf oil spill and the fact that they aren't paying yet. Well, I guess that's not really true. I mean, BP is paying, trying to stop the spill. And the spill is costing the company billions in lost revenue. but that's not really what these people are so exercised about. What they want is...a boycott!

Now, right-thinking people know how ridiculous boycotts are. They are ineffective and rarely result in action by the boycotted. Personally, I'm all for people spending their money where and how they want, and if you choose Product "X" over Product "Y" because Product "Y" is created using too trees or baby parts or whatever, I have no problem with that. Just don't call it a "boycott" because that's just silly.

The problem with boycotting oil producers is that whatever you decide not to buy just frees it up for somebody else to buy it instead. Remember the people wanting to boycott Citgo because Hugo Chavez might profit? It's the same problem with boycotting BP over the gulf oil spill. If the U.S. suddenly stopped buying oil from BP and started buying it from someone else, BP would just sell its oil to somebody else. Worse, prices for Americans might actually go up because of such a boycott.

Even if that argument isn't enough to make you sane about boycotting oil companies, there's this: oil is used for a host of things other than powering your Prius. Just look at BP's site where it talks about oil for fuel and lubricants. And that's not even talking about the many products made from oil, including things like wax, plastic, and Kevlar for bulletproof vests. In short, trying to "boycott" an oil company is like boycotting breathing. It's impossible and makes you look stupid.