Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Fundamental Laws"

You know all of this talk has me irked. But then, it has everyone irked, right? Of course it has. People don't like paying nearly $4.00 a gallon for gasoline. And for many (myself included) this turn toward Peak Oil is yet another sign that we need to work on living more sustainably. That's why it's all over the eco-blogosphere.

It is irksome because a select few are making huge profits off of our misfortune and because it means overall badness for the planet. (to which people are going to continue to contribute, in spite of $4, $5 and $6 a gallon gasoline.) I don't believe the oil execs for a minute...of course they're happy about this. And of course they have more control over what is going on than they will admit. They are raking in record profits!

It's irksome because this crisis is being manipulated in attempt to open more land for drilling in this country (and my state) instead of being the appropriate impetus to look for other options.

But really, that wasn't what irked me to the point of posting just now. This turn of phrase is : "The fundamental laws of supply and demand are at work." What irks me most about that is that people really operate on the supposition that laws of modern economics (capitalist economics especially) are as irrefutable as the laws of nature.

Come on people! They aren't. Economic laws are made up! They are nothing more than cultural constructs. The law of supply and demand works only because we believe that's how it works. They work because people want to make a lot of money, and a really good way to make money is by imposing an inflated monetary value on something that may or may not really have any real use value. When something does actually have a a real use we see it as all the more legitimate a reason to inflate it's monetary value.

It's not gravity. It's not evolution. It's not chemistry. It's culture.

The law of supply and demand is a cultural meme that is self propagating because we believe it should be and allow it to be. Oil and rice and wheat are costing more not because they really MUST cost more when the supply is lessened, be it by natural or fabricated causes, but because we believe they should. Because we believe something should cost more, we allow the commodities traders, oil execs and other profiteers to continue to price it higher.

Commodities pricing has nothing to do with the actual use value of an item, and everything to do with it's fetishized value. The whole thing is a game. And like all games, we as humans developed the rules. That means the rules can change.

1 comment:

Trav said...

I wonder if back in the day there were obsidian tycoons just as there are oil tycoons today.

It seems to be a trend. Train barons before oil, uh. I'm sure there were more before that.