What would happen if it costs 18KD to fill up your SUV? Would your life be ruined? I don’t think so. What will happen is that you will adjust your lifestyle to meet this new reality. You might reconsider buying a new SUV, and maybe get a car with better mileage. People might decide not to buy a car at all, and you’ll find that there’s less traffic on the street because people who can’t afford to drive are now willing to carpool and use public transportation. 18KD is a reasonable amount to pay because that’s the true price of the petrol.
What if you had to pay over 1000KD every year to pay for you electricity consumption? What would change? You would obviously think twice about leaving the air conditioning on all the time even when no one is home. You will think about how much a house consumes energy before buying it. You decide that maybe a small house with a bigger garden makes more sense than a three floor mansion. We might find that we don’t have blackouts anymore. The KOC will be able to sell more oil instead of burning it to make more electricity for Kuwait.
What if water cost you 50KD a month? Will you stand idly by as your driver sprays you car with a hose to clean it, when a sponge will do the same thing for a fraction of the water? Will you decide against a lawn and maybe plant more appropriate landscaping for the region?
If resources are priced according to their true value, without subsidies or manipulation, then human behavior will revert to a mode of living that is both efficient and ‘sustainable’. People will never change because of morality and the desire to feel ‘green’. That’s bullshit. The only way we can ever change is if it hurts us in our wallets if we don’t change. We’re not pricing in what’s called the negative externalities; the unpriced cost of traffic, pollution, blackouts and wasted finite resources.
This might seem politically impossible in Kuwait, but what if there was a way to make it work? What if all the savings and revenue generated was given back to Kuwaitis as a form of energy rebate? That way we can reward good behavior while we punish wasteful people by punching them with the invisible hand. We can have our cake and eat it too.