Originally Posted by RobertR
Competition also brings about benefits.
I’d much rather the free market determine prices than government dictates, especially dictates coming from “consumer advocates” who are really business cartelists in disguise. Without government dictates, Standard Oil went from a 10 percent market share of the refining market in 1871 to a 90 percent share in 1880. In 1870 kerosene cost twenty-six cents per gallon and was bankrupting much of the industry; by 1880, Standard Oil was phenomenally profitable, and kerosene cost nine cents per gallon. That’s as “pro consumer” as you can get. But as I said, the idea of cheap, plentiful energy is hated by some people.
That's one of those types of statements where everything stated may be true, but those true statements aren't really particularly supportive of the argument being made. Kerosene, as a viable commercial product, was very new at the time, so like any new industry it's likely that prices would lower quickly as it became much more widely used and economies of scale grew considerably. And of course it doesn't speak to what the price might have been had there been more competition as well. And it also doesn't speak to what almost invariably happens over time when companies are not subject to competition, whatever might be the benefits in the short term. And it also doesn't speak to the complete lack of concern for the environmental impacts (or the societal impacts in those countries which we of the west pretty much raped in those times for various resources) in the extraction and manufacture of the product as well, which would have served to create an artificially low price, with subsequent generations actually picking up a lot of the bill.
As to your last sentence, I doubt anyone, other than people who profit from the rarity of current energy resources, hate the idea of cheap and plentiful energy. I doubt anyone here is one of those people, so I'm not sure why you would bother making such a statement in this context. The folks who would stand to lose the most from such a thing today, are pretty much the Standard Oils of today.
I think that one thing that most folks should consider is that the only seemingly likely way we are to get cheap, plentiful energy in any sense that matters over the coming thousands of years (which will still be a blink of an eye) is if we finally figure out fusion reactions. Though never say never, it seems kind of unlikely that any single company can afford to make that happen, and that it'll more likely be a breakthrough at an academic level, and so there won't be any ownership of the process, only of ways developed to make it better in this or that way, so that competition wouldn't be stifled.
OTOH, if it really is really cheap and plentiful, what's the commercial incentive to spend huge amounts of money developing the means to deliver it? After an initial period, it might not be really worth it for commercial concerns to invest in, and it might revert to more of a government sponsored utility, I dunno.
Yes, there are other enormous sources of energy out there, but I imagine that it would not be possible to get there without an intermediate bootstrapping step of something like fusion energy, to provide us the oomph to get into space of a serious basis where we can begin to take advantage of those truly enormous sources.
I guess also, OTOOH, that there will be more of a move towards localization of generation at the home level, which will reduce demand for large scale production, but I can't see as it will ever allow us to avoid having to develop something like fusion for the larger scale needs of industry. One of the big ways we will benefit from such a thing is not just how much energy costs us, but how much of the cost of the other things we buy is that of the energy costs to produce it and deliver it.Edited by Dean Roddey - 6/30/13 at 2:19pm