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Energy Use: The Human Dimension
4. This unpreparedness does not occur because private parties are unintelligent or fail to foresee events as well as government. But while a private party may carefully consider benefits and costs to itself, it does not usually take full account of the benefits of its actions for others. Consequently, private initiatives may pay too little attention to actions that make sense for a larger group.
5. Some government programs do not necessarily deter decentralized preparation, for example: preventing emergencies by encouraging shifts to alternative energy sources and supplying information about national fuel supplies. Preparedness activities are particularly likely to deter decentralized actions, and stockpiled capabilities can have a similar effect.
6. A severe energy emergency poses such questions even more sharply than mobilization for war, because most of the beneficiaries of the crisis form a narrowly defined group whose members are readily identified—as contrasted with the more diffuse group of wartime “profiteers.”
7. This is not to imply that in a severe emergency, any action the government might take would necessarily be preferable to government inaction. Because of the diversity of emergencies, we have not attempted here to judge the desirability of alternative government policies for severe energy emergencies.