In Chapter 6 of Meadows, Meadows, & Randers' 1992 computer-modeling study Beyond The Limits, it is claimed, "price signals" are deemed an inappropriate mechanism to get global (capitalist) society to shift from oil to alternative energy sources before the oil runs out. Its conclusion is based upon the history of responses to the "oil price shock" of 1973:
Market signals such as oil price are too noisy, too delayed, too amplified by speculation, and too manipulated by private and public interest groups to give the world clear signals about oncoming physical limits. The market is blind to the long term and pays no attention to ultimate sources and sinks, until they are nearly exhausted, when it is too late to act. (184)It seems to me that GM's offer of a rebate to purchasers of new gas guzzlers is a perfect example of Meadows et al.'s depiction of how the market responds to energy squeezes. Gas too expensive? GM will rebate the cost, so you can drive a gas-guzzler anyway. So much for market signals requiring the public to conserve energy.