Terrorism and Scarcity

As oil prices hit and maintain record prices, the US strategic petroleum reserves have reached their highest levels. Stocks now measure 659 million barrels, just short of the 700 million barrel capacity. With true business acumen, the Bush administration has bought high and bought higher with no intention of selling to lower the market prices. And it is true business acumen if your interest is in raising and keeping prices high; if your business net income increased 98.3 percent between 2002 and 2003 due to higher prices, due to a “scarcity” surcharge, a terrorism premium. Scarcity is nothing but terror by other means, and so the Malthusians, the oil depletionists, consultants, geological politicians, arms merchants all join hands in the struggle for “security,” resources, and most all, a percentage.

The Hubbertists, living, are hard at it, breathing life into the Hubberts long dead. The mythological “bell curve” of production and depletion is reproduced as a proof of natural scarcity, rather than propaganda designed to obscure the real overproduction.

What global strategists label as a grand game to control resources is reflected, just as inaccurately, in the claims that the oil is running out.

It’s not about resources, it’s not about disappearing supplies, and it sure as hell is not about bell curves of production and depletion. The bell curve, like the unicorn, exists only as a fantasy. Oil production rates in most countries have not followed a bell curve of production increases and declines. North Sea production has actually seen two distinct peaks in production separated by a plateau

North Sea production has increased beyond and after the point when the new Hubbertists predicted the decline.

Moreover, proven reserves, as tabulated by the Hubbertists themselves now exceed the estimates of reserves the Hubbertists made 6 and 7 years ago.

So what gives? Scarcity, like terror, prepares and justifies the imposition of draconian austerity on the working classes, the poor. Scarcity, like terror, deflects attention from the real social, class, sources of economic distress. Scarcity’s seductive appeal is its apocalypsism, its near religious and martial embrace of extinction as the ultimate, final, and only solution…..except for the rich.

S.Artesian

May 17, 2004

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