Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Give in to your weakness

According to the London Free Press, the city of Woodstock will be holding a celebration of the shortages of essential commodities caused by central economic planning:

Woodstock is challenging the rest of the province to quit pigging out on electricity. “Ontario, and Canada in general, is an energy hog and we have to unlearn some very bad behaviour,” said Mayor Michael Harding.

The city has sent a letter to municipalities across the province, challenging them to join Woodstock’s “voluntary blackout day” and cut their electricity consumption by more than four per cent on Sunday, Aug. 13.

[…] Woodstock held its own volunteer blackout day last year on the anniversary of the Aug. 14, 2003 massive power-system failure that left large portions of the northeastern United States and Canada in the dark.

The idea was to raise awareness in the community of the importance of electricity, how fragile the supply can be, and create a culture of conservation, said Jay Heaman of Woodstock Hydro Services.
How fragile the supply can be? What a quaint euphemism for the failure of centrally planned politico-bureaucratic facsimiles of market mechanisms to respond to demand. The inevitable result of socialist planning is the perception of an economic problem as one of a demand rather than of a supply it cannot produce efficiently — rationing, a fixture of all socialist economies, must be seen by the artificially rationed population to be rational.
What perplexes me is how rationing has come to sound so rational to so many of us who would not identify themselves as socialists — it would seem we have become so accustomed to the idea of regulated self-sacrifice in the name of arbitrary authority and irrational political decisions in the guise of economic planning that the idea of self-sacrifice in the name of personal economy or what an individual holds dear to himself appears now secondary. It's also important to remember that the altar of sacrifice on which we are expected to lay ourselves here is not dedicated to the celebrated red herring of conservation but to the preservation of a public monopoly on power generation and distribution — in other words, the retention of power in the hands of bureaucrats and union workers to determine the methods, structures and protocols of energy production — an ideal that [was] promoted in much of the last election's campaign despite the fact that this monopoly has been responsible for the vicissitudes of Ontario's energy supply. If you can't make it, stop people from using it.
Throwing around words like "conservation" and "fragile" has the advantage of cultivating an eco-friendly sentiment behind rationing, a commonly-held equivalence between weakness and virtue that is crippling both strength and real virtue in society these days. This emasculating sentiment doesn't help generate solutions to problems, but it does encourage a politically useful acquiescence to the idea that we are the problem rather than the government… and a general resignation to the inevitable rationing, to boot.
London Controller Russ Monteith, a member of the London Hydro board, said it may be too late for London to join Woodstock’s challenge this year, but next year might be a possibility.
Well, of course.


Pietr said...

What a depressingly stupid city.

Honey Pot said...

You got that right Sore. Stupid, you can somehow forgive....because they are stupid, but dull and boring are unforgivable. Not sure what is wrong with this city, it just seems to be lacking in any originality and flare. You could never use the words fun and exciting in a sentence with London.

bonnie abzug said...

"You could never use the words fun and exciting in a sentence with London."

My dearest Honey, I hate to point out the obvious. But ......

rhebner said...

good thing food production and distribution isn't centrally planned...

"Dearest comrades, in order to glorify our dear leader and to push forward with revolutionary zeal the people have been asked to give up eating next Tuesday, Thursday and perhaps Sunday afternoon. In addition, your food ration of 650g will reduced to 500g starting today.

All hail our glorious leader, all hail the revolution, all hail socialism!"

rhebner said...


what do they mean the supply is fragile? Is the Niagara River drying up and no one is telling us?

Anonymous said...

The whole thing is ridiculous. What did the government expect to happen when they offered a service to the public, made it illegal for other companies to compete and set the price lower than the actual cost. It is only our Canadian government who would spend millions of dollars advertising to the public to use less energy instead of actually attempting to provide the electricity that is needed or wanted by the consumer.
Find me a private company that would advertise in this way and I'll show you a company that's headed into bankruptcy.

Pietr said...

I was just quoting Marvin the Paranoid Android.
Didn't mean to start a riot.

Pietr said...

But while I'm at it,perhaps Windsor could be entered into a new section of the Darwin Awards?
Along with the Cretan Empire, Carthage and Stalingrad?

Anonymous said...

Obviously, government moves slowly, at all levels, and in pretty much every democracy in the world. The public demand for due process wouldn't have it any other way!

But, I'd love to hear your version of a "better" solution to this complex and difficult problem. Open up the generation and transmission business to the "more responsive" private companies? That's laughable. We'd have an environmental catastrophe on our hands in no time - that is, in even less time than we're going to get the one we're currently working towards, if we don't make some changes to our foolish and seemingly-insatiable drive to consume.

Most people consume mindlessly, until they are given a good reason not to. Until there is some appreciable financial or other reason for people to begin using less energy, they won't.

Most people are terribly wasteful as consumers.

Most people consciously avoid dealing with the problems, or correcting their wasteful habits themselves.

Coal plants are easy, quick and cheap to build, but are also the most polluting source of electricity.

Our hydro-electric supplies are largely tapped out in Ontario.

The public at large is still terrified of Nuclear Power; even though half of our electricity comes from it, the first thing people think of when they hear "Nuclear Power Plant" is "Chernoble". And besides this, it takes nearly a decade to plan and build a nuclear plant.

Add all that together, and you have a need to conserve in the short term especially, but to build toward sustainability, in the long term as well. Further, it is going to be necessary to find sustainable, renewable, more efficient sources of energy, and better ways to do all the things that we've gotten so used to doing with a cheap, seemingly-limitless electricity supply.

Rations? That's hardly what we have, but there is currently ZERO incentive for people to use electricity - or any other energy source - responsibly, let alone to actively seek out better, more efficient ways to heat and cool their homes, light their homes, cook their food, heat their water, or entertain themselves. Electrical energy is inexpensive (well, it has very little MONETARY cost). Even gasoline, which has everyone all riled up, costs less per litre than bottled water, milk or pop. But, there are other costs we pay in terms of health, ecological destruction, etc., BUT the biggest price we would pay in continuing to consume unchecked is in our apathy. We do not have limitless resources. Oil will run out. Nuclear power will eventually run out. Just about every resource you can name will run out, unless we can find a way to become sustainable.

It would be nice if there were easy solutions to this problem - as your rather short-sighted diatribe seemed to imply that there are - however, increasing the electricity supply indefinitely is clearly not an option. In this case, increasing the supply to provide what is "needed or wanted by the consumer" is a terrible idea. A line must be drawn in the sand somewhere, sometime. Now is a better time than later, if we are ever to achieve sustainability.

Phil Hiusser

PS - By the way, what "the supply is fragile" means, is that our population is growing and consuming more and more, our economy is expanding, and all it would take is one or two nuclear reactors to need a shutdown for maintenance on one hot day this summer to incite rolling blackouts across the province. We broke consumption records last year, and needed to have brownouts province-wide in the heat waves of last summer, just to avoid those rolling blackouts. We are terribly naive if we think that the electricity supply can continue to match the rate at at which consumption is growing.

Anonymous said...

Excellent response Phil. I am relieved that someone intelligent, and clearly educated on the issues at hand, provided an accurate assessment of the situation.

All the best,

jim bender said...

Woodstock politicians are silly arses..yhjey've sold us out to Toyota,(shit..our taxes have almost doubled here..)
there is no real honest government, and Harding..the biggest complainer of all (see him begging for a raise 2 weeks after being elected in 2003), would kiss a dogs dirty ass to get his name in the news.