Mises Wept

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It's not just Hawaii and California: Politicians in Michigan, Oregon, New York, and Connecticut are mulling price controls for gasoline too. Apparently, no economic lesson is so forceful and decisive that it doesn't need to be learned again.

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  1. Many economists warn that prices caps and regulations could actually send gas prices higher.

    They misspelled All but the most insane.

  2. OK, how long have you been waiting to use that headline?

  3. Here in Chicago, we have gas prices a lot higher than those pussies in Hawaii are whining about. It’s been over $3/gallon for a while now due to a combination of taxes and the fact that we’re in a very small market because of special additive requirements. We can’t handle demand surges by bringing fuel in from other areas, so our prices are way up.

  4. In NY State, it’s also illegal to sell gas below wholesale, so Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and other stations that are willing to lower their gas price to attract business can’t. Rather than adopting price controls, if the legislature wanted to offer relief they could repeal that stupid “predatory pricing” law.

  5. I’m rather surprised it’s taken this long.
    I can hardly wait for the return of the 55 MPH speed limit. Don’t laugh: we still have carpool lanes.

  6. Connecticut better not try this. I have a long enough commute to work each way without having to add an extra half-hour or longer to wait for my turn to buy gas.

  7. OK, how long have you been waiting to use that headline?

    I was still working for Liberty when I thought it up, so it’s been about a decade.

  8. So. . . explain to this AC, is this a big game of chicken with the oil producers?

    If every state mandated price controls, once the current inventory runs out, the retailers (who don’t want to take a loss) can’t afford to buy the oil from the refiners, (who don’t want to take a loss) who can’t afford to buy from the oil producers, who can’t afford not to sell it. Eventually. Is it a matter of who can hold out longer?

    Then again, if it worked that way, we already should’ve tried it.

  9. This is going to be the most awesome case study for federalism ever. Watching New Yorkers drive to the Garden State to get sweet, tasty petrol is going to make the planners’ heads explode.

  10. Eventually. Is it a matter of who can hold out longer?

    If states do go through with this, at least it will lower the price of gas in China.

  11. It’s funny; when I first learned Economics, I was shocked. I thought to myself, “Somebody ought to share this information with the politicians!!” I’ve since learned the truth is even worse – I guarantee that these politicians know *exactly* what will happen as a consequence of price controls, but know Doing Something will look better for them, and they can blame subsequent lines at the pump and shortages on Greedy Gas Companies.

  12. Nobody hit it right on the head.

    I’ve long since stopped thinking politicians were just stupid, I’m pretty sure it’s a delicate balance of selective ignorance and downright evil.

  13. Oh, this is just the sort of thing Michigan needs right now.

  14. These things are aimed at soap-opera news consumers, which is the only way to get your sound bite on the air. The media won’t air it if it doesn’t please soap opera women, their target audience.

    Ridicule of the audience is the right course, but I don’t see how to get it on the air.

    High prices are the solution, not the problem.

    The demand for gas is called, technically, “inelastic.” This means you need it and will buy it no matter what the price.

    Well not quite. It means that the price has to go up _a whole lot_ to get you to cut back.

    So go up a whole lot is what it does.

    Accompanying this is screaming and yelling and complaining. This is a mark of success!!

    It means you cut back.

    The market works.

    The inventory at the tank farm is no longer falling.

    There are no lines for gas.

  15. This is almost as bad as when one of my house guests took a dump on my ironing board.

  16. Everybody keep a record of how much longer you have to spend at the pump. I plan to start a class action against the politicaians in CA for the lost productivity for my time. Who’s in?

  17. Good luck with that.

  18. I know, I know. But it seems like intensional malice. They know their going to hurt us and they do it anyway.

  19. Well they’ve already got rent control in NYC, might as well create shortages of fuel too, maybe then nobody will ever leave their apartments again.

  20. Actually, Captain, I don’t think they are deliberately trying to do harm.

    To the extent that they admit that previous interventions have failed it is always because “the wrong people were in charge” or “it was inadequately funded” or some such variant on “if you would only give us unlimited power we would make everything go right.”

  21. Issac Bartram,

    I’d normally agree w/ you a bit, that politicians aren’t necessarily sure that their policies will backfire, but in the case of price controls, I’ll disagree. The reason price controls are always used by economists as examples of bad policy is that *correctly implemented* they’re problematic. The failure of price controls is not related to a poor implementation; it’s their nature.

    –Nobody

  22. I have invented an automobile that will run by burning the hydocarbons of legistlators. The exhaust fumes are a bit foul at present, but I will work on that.

  23. I have invented an automobile that will run by burning the hydocarbons of legistlators.

    Hmmm, you might be onto something. Not the car, but what if we could capture the waste heat produced by solons as they bloviate in their chambers.

    I mean, 50 states means 99 legislative chambers (NE being unicameral and all) plus the federal House and Senate. That’s a lot of hot air, man. Think about it.

  24. OK, how long have you been waiting to use that headline?

    Unless I’m missing something, it seems that with all the harmful meddling that government has committed against voluntary human action, Jesse has had a depressing abundance of opportunities.

  25. “Mises Wept” shows your people are my people, Jesse: bible-thumpin’ hillbillies.

    My father gives a longer version of the little boy in Sunday School giving an answer to the teacher: “Jesus wept. Moses crept, and Jonah?, something with a bullfrog.”
    If you have heard that one, we are cousins fer sure.

    With regard to the actual topic at hand, recall when newspapers used fillers? They were like Fleers Double-Bubble fun facts to know.
    Well, instead of fillers, today we have periodic scrums with the energy industry. Those and polls.
    Fun facts to know were so much more ethically and intellectually pure.
    Ah, the good old days.

  26. I no longer have to regret not have lived through the Nixon administration. Unwinable ill advised war … lines at the pump … heck even a “Republican” in the white house … I’m just kicking back and waiting for the double digit inflation.

  27. js,
    I wouldn’t have bought a used car from Nixon, but Carter was your man for lines at the pump.

  28. Ruthless beat me to the chronology point…by about 13 minuets.

  29. Hey, I just detailed the chronology of Ruthless’ and my chronological point…

    Should I post this? Should I…should I…

  30. Ruthless,

    I remember gas lines with Carter, but unless all those left handed cigarettes destroyed my memory, there were gas lines in 1973. Nixon’s price controls combined with the Israel-hating petro-arabs’ temper tantrums caused gas lines.

  31. “Mises Wept” shows your people are my people, Jesse: bible-thumpin’ hillbillies.

    My father gives a longer version of the little boy in Sunday School giving an answer to the teacher: “Jesus wept. Moses crept, and Jonah?, something with a bullfrog.” If you have heard that one, we are cousins fer sure.

    That’s the first time I’ve heard it, so I guess our bloodlines haven’t crossed. I must have read my Bible without any hillbillies thumping around nearby.

  32. I buy gas at the same station every morning on my way to work; today was twelve cents a gallon more than yesterday morning. The Exxon next door to that station upped its prices by forty cents a gallon. I’ve read that, thanks to Katrina, we may be paying four bucks a gallon soon, and that won’t go down until the whole pipeline-and-refinery infrastructure down there is repaired. Who knows when that will be?

    But I’d still rather have access to all the four-dollar gas I want, rather than be limited in the amount of two-dollar gas I can buy.

  33. This is a little late for the “peak oil” threads (so I’ll put this comment here), but in those threads Jennifer made a point about the scientific predictability of oil fields. I just started a book on petroleoum geology, and one of the first chapters made the point that quite a few oil companies have been very successfful without geologists on the payroll, and one successful Texas oil tycoon pointed out that all geologists did for his competition was drive up the cost per barrel of oil. It seems that there is, in fact, a good argument for random drilling (as opposed to science determining the drilling site).

  34. my new propulsion design is powered entirely by Hot Air…….so, fill your self up with BS and start blowing.

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