Sunday, October 4, 2015

Oil and the Monopoly Myth

Those who oppose free markets often cite monopolies and large corporations as needing to be tamed by a bureaucratic apparatus designed to "protect the public."

The energy "crisis," as it used to be known, was a clash between growing energy demands and limited supplies.  The Club of Rome, remember them, argued in the 1960s and1970s that the world was going to soon run out of fossil fuel energy and therefore economic growth should be shut down before the lack of energy supplies shut it down.  This argument persisted well into the twenty-first century until it was overwhelmed by massive increases in fossil fuel energy. Another Malthusian specter vanished as if by magic.

Think of all the newsprint and talk media wasted decrying the world's output outrunning it's energy supplies.

So, the ground shifted.  The "global warming" story replaced the Club of Rome argument, but led to the same conclusion: shut down economic growth.  As the "warming" story ran up against contrary facts on the ground, the "climate change" story began.  But, the conclusions are always the same: shut down economic growth.

Thus who push this line believe that there is a knowledgeable elite -- usually, themselves -- who can rescue us from all of this, if only we abandon free markets and let them decide who gets what and what goods and services can be produced in their vision of the brave new world.

It  is amazing that so many folks think their views should supplant the views of ordinary folks regarding what to produce and consume.  The great virtue of free markets is that, acting only with local information, average citizens in their personal efforts to improve their standard of living, provide benefits for everyone in increased production and increased consumption through economic growth.  No elite bureacrats are needed.

So, myths are created, that require elites to come to the rescue.  Is it time to reign in big steel, big oil, big autos, big old IBM.....?  It is obvious that the view that these monopolies controlled our very existence turned out to be ridiculous.  These so-called monopolies couldn't find a way to provide for their own survival, much less control the rest of us.  Monopolies carry the seeds of their own destruction as new products and new ideas push the monopolies out of the way.  Free markets win out, even over monopolies.

There is no bureaucracy that can protect us.  Bureaucrats can only enslave us.  Only free markets and human initiative can protect us and permit us to improve our lives.

No comments: