Gasoline–Such a Big Bang for the Buck

February 1, 2018

Are you a fan of beheadings? Are you fond of autocratic regimes? Do you want to help those kooky, lovable Koch brothers purchase another member of Congress? Do you yearn to support Saudi Arabia, Iran, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin, but it seems so difficult to give them direct, individual donations? Lucky for you, there’s an easy answer! Just buy gasoline!

Yes, it’s that simple. Oil is a worldwide commodity. Any gallon you purchase props up the price as a whole, enriching international oil companies and oil-exporting nations, with a handsome portion trickling to the politicians they’ve bought. (Oops, “support.”) Your money is guaranteed to enable stonings of adulterous women and beheadings of political prisoners, not to mention facilitate juicy environmental damage from oil spills and toxic fracking waste. In fact, you can rest easy knowing that every dollar you spend on gasoline works hard to attack human rights, cripple the environment and enable political corruption. A three-fer!

But there’s more! On a local level, the gasoline you burn has the happy side benefit of inflicting asthma and cancer on the poorest in your region since it’s the poorest who live along freeways and traffic sewers where tailpipe emissions are highest and the rent is cheapest.

As a bonus, it’s easy to double the impact of your gasoline purchase by doing your best to make miserable the lives of anyone traveling without a car. With a little persistence, you can force them to get their own car and buy gasoline just like you. So honk at bicyclists as you pass them. Rev your motor loudly to show them who’s boss. Don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Yell rude things at them instead. From time to time even come close to hitting them. (If you actually do hit them, no problem. As long as you aren’t inebriated and you cooperate with the police, there will likely be no consequences to you.) Complain loudly and frequently at public meetings about how bike lanes and pedestrian safety projects take away parking. Refuse to fund public transit because you don’t take it. Turn purple with rage at any bicyclist who delays you by half a second. Lament the unfairness of pedestrians jaywalking and bicyclists rolling through stop signs while ignoring that car drivers routinely disregard stop signs, run stoplights, speed, kill people, and occupy ninety percent of the street space. And be sure to belittle and jeer at anyone who attempts to make their life less oily. After all, taking trains and drinking from personal water bottles won’t buy anyone’s seventeenth or eighteenth house.

If democracies annoy you, rest assured your gasoline money will go to some of the least democratic countries in the world. Let’s look at the top oil exporters and where they fall on the Democracy Index. For comparison’s sake, the United States (which is the #2 oil importer in the world, not exporter) is 21st out of 167 countries on the Democracy Index. (Don’t worry, we’re doing our best to become more autocratic and drop!) As you can see below, most of the top exporters are in the bottom third of the Index, if not the bottom tenth, Yes, Canada, at number 6, is an anomaly, but don’t let that distract you. Most of the rest are either totalitarian autocracies or nearly so. They totally deserve your money.

Oil Exporter
2016 Oil Income (Billion US $)
Democracy Index Ranking (out of
167 nations)
1. Saudi Arabia
2. Russia
3. Iraq
4. Canada
5. United Arab Emirates
6. Kuwait
7 Iran


And one last benefit you get from your gasoline purchase. No, not an Esso tiger tail or an Arco Noah’s Ark animal, like the gas station giveaways of yesteryear. This is the big kahuna. Climate change! Every gallon of gasoline you burn is another nail in the coffin of humanity! Though you’ll likely not be around to witness it, you can go to your grave knowing that you personally helped billions of people die from famine, drought and disease. Another billion refugees bobbing up and down in their little boats across great seas will have you to thank. There will likely be wars and social chaos. If we get really lucky, there’ll be total extinction of the human race. So fill up those tanks! Every dollar you spend on gasoline packs a punch. As bargains go, it doesn’t get much better.

Karen Lynn Allen

Karen Lynn Allen is a novelist and blogger who draws on her background in both literature and engineering to write about energy and resilience issues. Her novel, Beaufort 1849, depicts a society that needs to make an energy transition but instead doubles down on its way of life with catastrophic consequences.

Tags: environmental effects of fossil fuel extraction, gasoline