They Will Flatten the Curve of Your Energy Use

They Will Flatten the Curve of Your Energy Use
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press conference after the College meeting on the 'Save gas for a safe winter' package at the EU headquarters in Brussels on July 20, 2022. (John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeffrey A. Tucker

My friends in the United Kingdom have been texting me wildly this week. What the heck is going on with energy bills? They are doubling, tripling, and forecast to go even higher. For this bourgeoisie, this is a budget-destroying disaster. Small businesses won’t be able to afford to open. The poor will face the choice between heating and eating.

The new prime minister, Liz Truss, has immediately called for price caps (price controls) plus a 90 billion pound (more than $100 billion) intervention that would bail out energy companies. Even people normally opposed to such draconian interventions are going along simply because no one seems to have another plan. The crisis is existential.

Truth is that nothing can stop this from happening. All interventions only buy time, and we are talking months or even weeks.

Three factors are driving this.

First, there has been the mad rush by the UK to convert the region to “renewables” (I hate that term) from fossil fuels, based on the fantasy that if we all just get by on living off the wind and sun, then the global temperature will stop changing, or something like that. Our rulers believe, for some reason, that we should stop tapping the dinosaur sludge.

It’s insanity inspired by ignorant virtue-signaling by media stars who refashioned themselves as energy experts and browbeat politicians into going along. Once the governments committed to the idea, there was no going back.

Second, there is the intervention in the border war between Ukraine and Russia. Somehow, leaders in the United States, UK, and European Union (EU) came to believe that denying their citizens access to Russian gas would cause Vladimir Putin to change course. There was never a chance of that, but there was every certainty that this policy would pillage citizens in three regions of the world. They did it anyway.

Third, we must talk about currency devaluation. It was global, just like lockdowns, and coordinated between central banks. It happened in the UK, United States, and EU. It began with lockdowns. Some fools truly imagined that paper could take the place of productivity. This began in March 2020 and the rates of increase in money expansion peaked 10 months later: EU at 16 percent, the UK at 22 percent, and the United States at 26 percent. In practice, this meant tens of trillions in phony money flooding the world as if a dam had broken.

No surprise that 16 to 18 months later, prices began to respond. The direct cause and effect here are impossible to deny. There is simply no way that central bankers were too stupid not to understand the risks they were taking.

Or maybe they are that stupid. It’s hard to say these days. Maybe, they actually came to believe the propaganda of “Modern Monetary Theory,” which is that we have somehow entered a new age in which obvious realities from thousands of years of human experience no longer pertain.

 (Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

People are too often confused about the relationship between money printing and prices. It isn't linear or smooth or entirely predictable, as the models seem to show. There are what are called Cantillon effects (named for 18th-century Irish economist Richard Cantillon) who wrote insightfully that newly printed money doesn't enter into real economic life evenly, but rather presents itself sector by sector, depending on a variety of factors.

Nor do the effects show up in a way that is neutral across all industries. Instead, it comes in bursts, behaving like a migratory virus, infecting this and then that before going away, only to reappear in another area. The invisible enemy of fiat money hunts down fashionable investments, weak industrial sectors, and services and products that are vulnerable to exploitation.

The energy sector is among the most vulnerable because of the supply shocks from the war on fossil fuels, as well as the masochistic sanctions on Russian exports to the West. So the most pain of soaring prices is being felt here.

But get this. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has given a press conference announcing new energy rationing throughout the whole of the region. She tendentiously explained prices tend to be higher when people use energy the most (no kidding!) and so, her fabulous new plan is to restrict people’s use of energy during those times.

She called this “flattening the curve.” True story. Watch the speech yourself. Remember, this isn't "Hunger Games" or Orwell. This happened on Sept. 7. What’s more, it won’t work. Peak use is predictable. The problem is the unpredictability of her beloved renewables, which are undependable and can't provide for modern needs.

The idea of curve flattening for COVID-19 always struck me as dangerous. It's a pretense of knowledge and power for government officials to imagine that they can control their models by controlling the people. Two years ago, the idea was that if we all just stay far away from each other, never engage in any real activities, stay very still in our homes, some mathematical rendering of virus migration would begin to take a different shape.

Some websites even gamified this absurdity with colorful charts and data so that we could find out what nations and what states were doing the best job at curve flattening!

Few asked what the point of this really was. Hospital capacity? It was never a problem on any large scale. That was always a propaganda point to manipulate people into compliance. The same goes for the other slogan “slow the spread”: In practice, it only meant prolonging the pain.

Now, we're seeing this malicious and dubious idea of curve flattening applied to every area of life, including people’s ability to keep the lights on and heat running! Do your part! Help flatten the curve by dispensing with the normal activities we’ve come to take for granted in a civilized society!

It’s not as if you have a choice; they hold all the cards. They wrecked the world and now they are making you pay for their mistakes.

Americans watch this and think: Oh, this could never happen here. Except that on the same day, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced restrictions on electricity use in his state, too.

There will be rationing. And it will spread.

Don’t think even for one instant that the Biden administration would resist this. This is exactly what they would do, too. And they believe that they have the technology to do it.

I’m grateful to Jeff Childers for alerting me to the way in which Google is cooperating in all of this. Many consumers bought Google Nest (or were given one for free) to be able to control the temperature of their homes with a voice command. What technology! What a luxury!

But as with all these whizbang fancypants technologies of the past few years, there is a catch. It means turning over your decision-making to an insidious and malicious cartel of Big Tech and government, who can override your preferences, spy on you, and control the whole of your life. Customers in Colorado who owned a Google Next found immediately that Gov. Jared Polis adjusted the temperature in their homes without their permission, by operating through Google.

Welcome to the Brave New World!

Your curve will be flattened. You will be transitioned. You are shivering and lacking in food, but you are doing your part to bring about a solution to climate change. Your suffering is serving a social purpose, just as staying home keeps you safe from COVID.

It’s the new and wholly totalitarian model of social and economic control. You will live off the wind and sun. You will eat bugs. Vaccines will take care of the rest. And social media will explain to you that you are doing the right thing and that all opposition is misinformation.

There are so many curves to flatten out there! Governments of the world won't neglect a single one.

Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.