Monday, July 11, 2005

Save the energy and all the nonsense

The government seems to be incapable even to offer solutions that at least make sense. The oil and energy desperado has resulted in a series of childish and myopic "solutions". Among all, the "funniest" ones include 1) persuasion/request/invitation/directive (instruction?) to office workers not to use elevators, 2) p/r/q/d to reduce the use of air conditioners, 3) p/r/q/d not to wear suit in office -- so not to demand more fresh air from the air-con, 4) p/r/q/d (i was told, this is soon to be official instruction) to radio and tv broadcasts not to run from 1 am to 6 am, and 5) p/r/q/d to start switching off more house lightbulbs every night.

I say, oh my God. It's indeed hurting to see people are fighting for an access to fuel with "affordable" price. But the price has been manipulated. What stays in people's mind is wrong price. And it needs to be corrected so as to stop lying to people. But instead of trying to fix the price, everybody prefers to prolong the lie and to keep singing the fatal lullaby, that the price is alright. That this is temporary; tomorrow everything should be okay. Better to use some persuasion. Since when moral suasion works in this country? Unfortunately not only the government; some analysts, celebrities, and other public figures start echoing all the nonsense. Either they don't know what they're doing, or they deliberately do it to win the public's heart. Being politically popular is key to maintain political power. And it's not necessarily economically logical. Some "economists" even deny the very basic economics. That when you hold prices below what it is supposed to be, you would see either of two results: 1) the market cries out for subsidy, 2) a long line of queue. In worst situation, you will see both results. As in now. Even for these economists, being popular seems more important than to acknowledge the real examples of what they learned in schools.

What's so hard to understand that people do respond to incentives? If you really face a shortage problem, trust me, the only effective measure to fight it is ... well, price-- since shortage means the price is distorted (not necessarily means "scarcity"). Think again of your "heartful" solutions: stop using elevators, air-cons, suits, etc. Did you ever think why these pratices existed in the first place? Because people need a comforting environment to work more productively. Now go tell your staff to cease using elevators. Shut off all the air-con system. That's fine. You are saving the energy. But don't tell me you still expect a boost in production, or even to maintain the existing one. And what's with the midnight broadcasts? Some people have their peak productivity at night time. They work extremely well at night. With the accompany of ... well radios or tv programs (news wire, Bloomberg index, you name it). But sorry dudes, your government is imposing a new work habit for you!

The real sad thing is, this way of thinking is not peculiar to energy problem... It is pervasive.

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