02 July 2007

Iran and Petroleum

There have been riots in Iran in recent days over the rationing of gasoline.

Accounts have differed wildly. Perhaps 20 gasoline stations were attacked by rioters. Perhaps as many as 50.

Perhaps there have been no deaths. Perhaps there have been three.

But that there has been unrest is clear through the haze, and it makes the point that gasoline isn't a raw material -- it is the product of industry, of a refining. The critical variable isn't the per-barrel price of crude we hear about so often (or isn't always that, anyway) but refinery capacity.

One is reminded of the Shah's pre-revolutionary regime, which likewise sought to plan its way into status as a front-rank industrial power. Central planning doesn't work, and when the central planners are overthrown by a revolution, and the revolutionaries try a somewhat different style of central planning ... it still doesn't work.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.