By James Baxter, NMA President
I don’t like the idea of $4 gasoline, I doubt that anyone does. However, I like gas lines, closed gas stations, and no gasoline at all, even less. That’s what we are likely to end up with if the government “fixes the problem.”
In 1973 and again in 1979 the federal government, and some states, addressed the fuel shortages (albeit politically caused fuel shortages) and the results included rationing schemes and price controls that squeezed local fuel retailers and discouraged new oil production.
Then there were the gas lines that stretched for blocks, the hoarding of fuel, stretches of highways for hundreds of miles where fuel was not available after 8 PM, and let us not forget the 55 MPH National Maximum Speed Limit.
During all that time, gasoline and diesel remained excruciatingly expensive.
So far Congress has confined its activities to easy targets like “big oil” and speculators in the commodities markets. When this fails to materially reduce fuel costs the political elite will turn to its favorite tool, government regulations.
Short of starting another war somewhere, there is nothing more counterproductive than having our government attempt to regulate, directly or indirectly, the price of motor fuels.
Four dollar gasoline is undoubtedly a major burden for individuals and businesses, but it’s a burden we can bear far more easily then an energy market completely disrupted and distorted by rash government regulations.
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