Saturday, July 17, 2010

How Exactly Does One Go About Boycotting BP?

With BP capping the well finally, I was wondering if someone could explain to me how they went about boycotting BP for the horrible, evil, wicked thing they did.

I mean, boycotting something like Starbucks is easy (like the Brady Campaign was trying to do), you just don't shop there. Boycotting a multinational entertainment corporation like Disney (like the Christian Coalition did when they began providing benefits to gay employee's partners) is a little more difficult. Sure you can not go see the "Disney" movies, but do you also extend it to not getting the Happy Meal toys? What about if your daughter's friend has a Disney Princess birthday party during your boycott?

Boycotting a state like Utah (which the anti Prop-8 tried to d0) starts to border on the absurd. So you don't travel to Utah. What about connecting flights through Salt Lake City? It is really funny since Utah wasn't the ones who passed Prop 8, and even if none of the Mormons in California voted, Prop 8 still would have passed. Of course the entertainment industry in California has a significant interest in the Sundance Film Festival. What about companies headquartered in Utah? Do those need to be boycotted as well? What if the company started in Utah but later moved to a more tax advantaged place like Delaware or the Bahamas? How about agriculture products like alfalfa and salt? Should those be included in the boycott? Finally, there is a big rail line that goes through the Beehive state. Do we not use products that were brought to us on that rail line?

Questions like these help to show why boycotts rarely (if ever) even have an affect on their intended target. If it is a small localized organization that is being boycotted, then you might (MIGHT!) have some success. With BP, you won't. Do you start with not buying gasoline from BP branded gas stations? Well, this is only going to have an effect if you were buying from BP to begin with. OH, except that those gas stations are simply that, BP branded. They are independently owned and operated and only sell gasoline that happens to have BPs special mix of chemicals (but the gasoline itself may have been refined by Shell, using oil from Exxon). So, what else do you buy from BP. Well, nothing directly. BP doesn't sell much of anything to end consumers. However, they do provide materials to other businesses that make stuff. Oil is used to make fuel, plastics, food, medicine, asphalt, tires, paints, etc. The list goes on and on. Oil is one of the most versatile products out there (which is probably why it is such a major part of our economy. So, I guess if you are going to boycott BP, you can just not use all of those products that are made from oil. Because some small fraction of every plastic water bottle you buy is going to BP (the oil all gets mixed together anyway).

Of course, then your life would be like living in the dark ages.

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