Thursday, May 31, 2007


Very few things in life are as irritating as an e-mail that has been forwarded multiple times. You know the kind I mean: originating from a person you barely know who at some point in the distant past and by means unknown has managed to acquire your e-mail address; kicked around between a dozen recipients who in their boundless narcissism apparently imagined that you would find the message as interesting as they did; and of a predictably idiotic nature regardless of the topic -- unfunny, if they are jokes -- gullible, if they are warnings -- sinister, if they are chain letters.

The other day I received one, laced with multiple exclamation marks as is the custom, inviting me to join in signing a petition against rising gas prices. Said petition would then be submitted to the government, who when confronted with the unchallengeable power of our mighty signatures would obligingly lower the price of gasoline. Here is the reply I wrote to the original sender, a woman living in another province who I have never met:

"dear Ms. [xxxx]:

Petroleum is a non-renewable resource, the reserves of which are running out even as global demand for it continues to skyrocket. The most basic laws of economics dictate that its price will continue to rise until it has all been depleted (which is forecast to happen at the latest by the end of this century.) Fluctuations in supply owing to regional instability in countries such as Iraq, Venezuela and Nigeria, as well as the production quotas set down by OPEC, also play a role in determining the global price of oil at any given time. If we as consumers find that filling the tank has become too expensive, we can always purchase a bicycle.

P.S. Please remove me from your mailing list."

With such an utter lack of diplomacy it's no wonder that I am a social outcast, but I do enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with it. (Here is a link to a primer on gas prices.)


Rajeev said...

Noticed that you linked to Ludwig von Mises is a libertarian from the Austrian school - a brilliant thinker and the website is a true treasure trove.

Neil said...

Yes, I thought you might like that! I have von Mises's mighty tome "Socialism" on my bookshelf but have never managed to get all the way through it. Someday,