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I think my feelings on the broken oil well fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico stray a bit from the norm; at least the norm that’s been shaped for me by my friends and acquaintances. Yes, I think it is a tragedy. Yes, I think those responsible for the spill should be responsible for the cleanup, as well as taking care of those people who lost their ability to provide for their family because they can’t work as a result of the gulf being trashed. For good measure, tack a huge fine onto the cleanup bill, and pass some legislation that makes drilling safer and more strictly regulated.

What I don’t agree with is the notion that boycotting BP gas stations is in some way going to make any impact on the company’s bottom line. BP stations are independently owned and operated, not all BP stations get their gas from BP, and gas isn’t the only thing BP’s crude is used to make. Really, the only people who will be affected by you boycotting your local gas stations are the employees and regular patrons of your local gas stations.

Look, it’s 2010. We have access to information on a level that has never been seen, or even dreamed about, in the past. You can learn just about anything you want as long as you have a device that can access a search engine and display a webpage. It blows my mind that people still think boycotts and demonstrations are going to make an impact on a company as huge and as powerful as British Petroleum. Look, you aren’t going to put BP out of business, no matter how hard you try. My eyes hurt from just how far and hard they roll when I hear someone talk about “sticking it to BP” by buying their gas at another station.  Read this next sentence over and over again, as many times as it takes, for it to sink in: you have neither the money, nor the power to affect BP’s ability to do business. (If you did, you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading this blog).

In my estimation, there are two ways you can try to make an impact on the situation. You can call your congressmen and demand that they, the government, pursue all appropriate civil and criminal action against BP, Transocean, and Halliburton… but, you are probably going to have to beat, or at least match, the handouts they received when they were running for election in 2008 (and those figures only represent “gifts” from BP).  Don’t have that kind of scratch laying around?  Me either.  So, I guess you could try what I think is your best bet for making any kind of difference: get in your car, drive down to Louisiana, find someone to train you in proper cleanup techniques, then start working on a boat or a beach. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be fun; I have  a friend down there doing just that, and he paints a bleak picture of corruption, ineptitude, and a lack of organization.  Still, if you get down there, and get put to work, you will have made, quite likely, the biggest difference you could have.

And hey, you might as well stop at the gas station to fill up and get a slurpee on your way out of town.  You could even stop at your local BP; you just may help counterbalance the misguided “activists” boycotting the station, and keep the owner from having to cut hours, lay someone off, or even close their doors.  Just be sure to watch out for protesters covered in chocolate syrup, lest you run them over…

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