…More panic buying.
What was a fairly minor fuel shortage sparked when
gas tanker drivers in the UK threatened to go on strike has developed
into what UK officials are now calling all out chaos, as drivers across the
country scramble to fill their tanks amid uncertainty about when
transportation services will be up and running at full capacity again.
In what may be a glimpse into the future of other
industrialized Western nations that are experiencing rising gas prices and labor
problems, residents of the UK were queued in hours-long lines reminiscent of
the 1970′s oil crisis in the United States.
The lines of drivers waiting to get their daily allotment of gas are so long
that they have led police to shut down gas stations in an effort to ease
traffic and avoid delays.
For their part, government officials have asked
drivers to remain calm, but may have inadvertently worsened the situation
when Energy Secretary Ed Davey suggested that drivers concerned with running
out of gas should be “topping up when their tanks go below, say,
half-full… they should actually go the full hog and fill up when they
Though the intention was to calm drivers, the
government’s official recommendations and actions have had the opposite
effect, putting further strain on available gas supplies by prompting drivers
to queue up lines in what can only be described as panic buying.
The fuel panic crisis descended into further chaos
today after a police force ordered petrol stations to close because of the
huge traffic jams the shortages were causing.
Dorset police ordered a temporary shutdown after
dozens of stations ran dry and motorists formed long queues outside those
still selling fuel, which they said were dangerous to other drivers.
There are now fears that other forces may follow
suit. Petrol stations in Cambridge have already started rationing by limiting
customers to £10 worth of petrol or diesel.
The chaos followed the incredible farce of ministers
issuing a series of conflicting messages to motorists on how to prepare for a
national strike by tanker drivers.
Hundreds of petrol stations across the country have
been forced to close thanks to panicking drivers flooding forecourts, the AA
told Mail Online.
Other motoring organisations
and filling station bodies have been reluctant to provide an exact number of
closures – possibly over fears that precise details could exacerbate
Among signs that there could be worse to come,
Halfords today reported that there has been a a 467
per cent rise in demand for jerry cans since Mr
Maude’s ill-fated comments yesterday.
Sales of petrol and diesel increased dramatically
yesterday as motorists flocked to garages to fill up.
Fuel rationing returned to forecourts last night as the
Army was put at the centre of plans to minimise disruption caused by the looming industrial
The Labour leader said:
‘The Prime Minister is presiding over a shambles on petrol.
‘In a delicate situation which demanded
statesmanship, the Government showed partisanship. They made a crude decision
to play politics with petrol without regard for the consequence.’
‘We now have self-inflicted shortages due to
poor advice about topping up the tank and hoarding in jerry cans. This in
turn has led to localised shortages, queues and
some profiteering at the pumps.’
Source: Daily Mail via What Really
To be clear, the UK has not run out of gas. The
shortages have been caused because gas transportation drivers have gone on
strike, interrupting the just-in-time delivery of a key resource. The mass
hysteria perpetuated by the government and media has led to panic by
residents who likely don’t know what to believe. They see thousands of
their fellow citizens lining up, their government is telling them to get more
gas, and so in traditional lemming-like fashion they join the queues and add
further strain to an already over-extended system.
The problems in the UK are probably short-term and
should be resolved within a few weeks, but the behavior of the media,
government and the masses highlights the dangers posed when we become
dependent on an infrastructure that can be brought to it’s knees for a variety of reasons.
In the United States, with the signing of President
Obama’s latest Executive Order, which takes
control of all resources in the United States including the workforce, there is a strong possibility that any nationwide
strike that threatens the regular flow of commerce could prompt the President
to declare a national emergency and force drivers back to work under what
amounts to a martial law scenario. These powers of the President would be
most useful in events such
as a US dollar currency crisis, which would lead to problems with worker
compensation, and as such, could lead workers in essential industries like
food and gas transportation, utility maintenance, and emergency services to
simply decide to stay home.
Of course, the government can’t control
everything. Even if delivery drivers were forced to make their scheduled
routes, payment for gas during a currency crisis or during a middle east
conflict where prices for gas spike potentially into the teens per gallon
could become impossible for the average person. As well, the US government
itself may lose credit status with our suppliers of key commodities that
include, among other things, oil and food.
Such events could play out literally overnight
once catalyzed. While
our system, like the UK, could survive such a shock for a week or two, it
would only be a matter of time before the entire financial, economic and
social structures in which we live fell apart.
The UK provides us a subdued microcosm example of
what true chaos and panic would look like during an extended crisis