Peak Oil: Did You Know?
Did you know that U.S government technocrats have been predicting the end of oil production since oil was first discovered in America in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1866?
In 1866, shortly after the Pennsylvania discovery, the U.S. Revenue Commission told that nation that once oil production ended in America, as it expected, there would be no need to worry about the availability of "synthetics."
In 1909, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) warned that if the U.S. petroleum industry continued "the present rate of increase in production, the supply would be exhausted by about 1935."
In 1922, the same agency forecast that oil supplies would dry up by 1942 at the latest.
In 1885, the USGS said there was little or no chance of finding oil in California.
In 1891, the USGS said there was little or no chance of finding oil in Texas.
In 1908, the USGS forecast the maximum future oil supply as 22.5 billion barrels.
In 1914, the U.S. Bureau of Mines warned that there were only 5.7 billion barrels of oil left.
In 1939, the U.S. Department of the Interior predicted that the United States would run out of oil by 1952.
In 1949, the Secretary of the Interior warned that the "end of U.S. oil supplies is in sight."
In 1951, the U.S. Department of the Interior revised their prediction that oil supplies would run out by 1964.
In 1947, the Department of State warned that "sufficient oil cannot be found in the U.S."
Is Peak Oil a valid theory?
Probably not, and if you are basing your Peak Oil scenario on a government forecast, be very, very careful. No human, government employee or not, can predict the future with significant accuracy. However, when it comes to government forecasters, being wrong has no impact on their future income. In the private sector, being wrong can cost you. (That is, unless the government comes in and bails you out with stolen taxpayer money.)
Can the Government Do Anything About Peak Oil?
What if I'm wrong? What if Peak Oil is a reality and the U.S. finds itself in another energy crisis like the 1970s? Should we look to the government to regulate our energy production? Can the government do anything to solve the problem of Peak Oil?
Let's ask William E. Simon, the first energy czar. The Federal Department of Energy was created in 1977 and quickly set upon itself the task of employing every single economic fallacy in an attempt to stop the gas shortages. It was an orgy of arrogant, bureaucratic, conceit. According to Simon, calling it a tragedy would be kind:
"As for the centralized allocation process itself, the kindest thing I can say about it is that it was a disaster. Even with a stack of sensible-sounding plans for even-handed allocation all over the country, the system kept falling apart, and chunks of the populace suddenly found themselves wihtout gas. There was no logic to the pattern of failures. In Palm Beach suddenly there was no gas, while 10 miles away gas was plentiful. Parts of New Jersey suddenly went dry, while other parts of New Jersey were well suplied. Every day, in different parts of the country, people waited in line for gasoline for two, three, and four hours. The normal market distribution system is so complex, yet so smooth that no government mechanism could simulate it."
The interesting thing here is that the U.S. attempted to institute a Soviet style planning regime (the DOE) in just one industry, and yet it was a total failure. Of course, with all government intervention there were unintended consequences. More from Simon:
"As the shortages became more erratic and unpredictable, people began to "top off" their tanks. Instead of waiting, as is customary, to refill the tank when it is about one quarter full, all over the country people started buying 50 cents' worth of gas, a dollar's worth of gas, using every opportunity to keep their tanks full at all times. And that fiercely compounded the shortages and expanded the queues. The psychology of hysteria took over. Essentially the allocation plan had failed because there had been a ludicrous reliance on a little legion of government lawyers, who drafted regulations in indecipherable language, and bureaucratic technocrats, who imaged that they could simulate the complex free-market processes by pushing computer buttons. In fact, they couldn't."
So what is a technocrat?
My Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a technocrat as "a technical expert; especially : one exercising managerial authority." Well, that didn't tell us much. What about technocracy? Again, according to Merriam, it's "government by technicians; specifically : management of society by technical experts."
Now that's more like it. Technocracy is the antithesis of free market individualism. It's a fallacy that has been very popular throughout history, particularly in the early days of the Nation-State. Technocrats are the modern day, scientific-looking ancestors of the Chinese mandarins, the intellectual guardians of the State's thirst for plunder. And they have always been abject failures.
So know your enemy, that's all. Technocracy is scientific soclialism in real life and it fails as spectacularly in real life as Bohm-Bawerk predicted it would when he wrote History and Critique of Interest Theories (1884.)
The Federal Reserve is a haven for technocrats, as are the various departments of the federal government. Do you know how many technocrats are currently wasting taxpayer money, churing out models and formulas that have absolutely no bearing on economic reality?
Why do they do it? They don't care about consumers, workers or producers. In fact, they don't care too much about freedom either. They loathe economic freedom. They want high taxation and high budgets. They want to do God's work. They are your enemy. Oh, lest I forget... they also want your money. It sure beats working for a living.
David in Qatar