Crony Capitalism

Don't Worry, Oregonians: Most of You Are Still Banned from Pumping Your Own Gas

A backwards, protectionist law mandating an obsolete job has been only slightly relaxed.

|

Gas station
MinervaStudio / Dreamstime.com

Did you hear that you can finally pump your own gas in Oregon? And people are freaking out about it?

In reality, most people still can't pump their own gas in Oregon, and it's not actually clear how much people are freaking out about it. But it makes for viral news stories mocking people's online behavior.

At the start of the new year, a law went into effect that permits some people in Oregon under some circumstances to pump their own gas rather than waiting for a gas station employee to do it for them. Oregon and New Jersey are, infamously, the only states mandating by law that gas stations employ people to pump fuel.

Oregon passed legislation loosening the rules back in May, and the change finally went into effect on January 1. KTVL News in Medford, Oregon, posted about the change on Facebook and asked people what they thought and to vote (thumbs up versus frowny-face emoji) on whether they supported the change. So far the vast majority of voters do, but some of the more inane responses have drawn news coverage of their own. Comments like this:

No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help. Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe too. This is a very bad idea. Grrr.

The commenter is being widely mocked, given that in the rest of the country has figured out a way to handle those spooky transients without demanding constant full-service gas station attendants.

But the commenter needn't fear. Oregon's laws on gas pumping are still unbelievably stupid, and she's probably still going to be sitting there at a pump waiting for somebody to perform an extremely simple, menial task for her.

The law passed in May permits self-service gas pumping only in limited circumstances. It applies only in eastern counties in Oregon with populations of less than 40,000 people, and it only applies to gas stations that aren't attached to convenience stores or retailers.

Previously such stations could permit people pump their own fuel at night, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Now they can do so at all hours, if they so choose. According to The Bulletin, some rural gas station owners didn't know the rules were changing and are not prepared to let people pump their own.

So corrupt, backward gas-station protectionism is still the order of the day in Oregon, driving up the cost of fuel and the cost of living.

Bonus links: Read how crony corruption keeps New Jersey drivers from pumping their own gas. And Oregon State economist Patrick Emerson myth-busts some dumb justifications for full-service mandates.

NEXT: Philly Cop Fatally Shoots Unarmed Man Sitting on Sidewalk After Chase, Crash

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Wow, this is for real? Does the state mandate that after taking a shit, you can’t wipe your own ass? Maybe it has to be done by a Certified Asswipe with at least 1500 hours of training.

    1. Worse yet, the mandatory gas pumpers are unaccredited!

    2. There is an organization for that. It’s called the Toilet Safety Administration……

      https://tinyurl.com/y8yz9g2h

    3. It’s an employment program for otherwise unemployable unskilled teenagers. Seriously.

    4. I just started 7 weeks ago and I’ve gotten 2 check for a total of $2,000…this is the best decision I made in a long time! “Thank you for giving me this extraordinary opportunity to make extra money from home. go to this site for more details….. http://www.startonlinejob.com

    5. It’s real. I have a brother in Oregon and was surprised when I pulled in for gas to be REQUIRED to let someone else pump my gas.

      The question I have is: Why? If it’s an issue of safety (which, I believe was the original purpose for the law – it was simply “too dangerous” for inexperienced people to pump their own gas) then why is it suddenly “safer” when there’s a convenience store attached – or after 6pm? Or in a community for fewer than 40,000 people?

      Oregon is part of the “Leftist Coast” – a land where laws need make no sense whatsoever.

  2. Seems like pumping your own gas with one of those gross hipster beards is a legit fire hazard anyway.

    1. Yeah, but it rains 367 days a year in Oregon, so fire isn’t THAT big of a concern.

      1. True, but getting gasoline on a hipster beard is still deadly for the baby birds that live there.

        1. Ultimately, it’s moot, since the beardo hipsters all shun cars in favor of bikes anyway.

      2. it rains 367 days a year in Oregon

        It rains 367 days a year in western Oregon. The eastern side of the Cascades is mostly desert. Pump jockeys are still required in the west. A lot of the eastern counties don’t have enough teenagers to fill the jobs.

    2. I don’t get it. Hair is highly flammable on its own, and a mixture of gas and hair won’t spontaneously combust

      1. Sometimes you have to be willing to throw it all away for a hipster joke.

      2. The combination of gasoline and organic beard balm is like a binary explosive.

  3. I use this law to point out when leftists keep arguing for more regulation and cite scary things, etc. It’s the same rationale behind this gas law, even though 48 other states do it just fine.

    Like with NN, freedom isn’t so bad once you calm the fuck down

    1. I use this comment to point out that rightists are just as terribly for coercive regulations as the left. See, for example, the bathroom panic of 2017.

      1. Did we already forget who started that particular panic, and the how and why of it? Seems so…

      2. You seem to forget that it was started by Progressives and applied to all businesses, churches, etc.; not just government facilities.

  4. People often label Southerners as idiots and morons — frequently accurately, mind you — but we manage to pump our own gas and not nearly kill ourselves in the process.

    Hell, we play with fireworks frequently, too, and seldom injure ourselves.

    Perhaps Oregonians are too dumb to be allowed to vote. If you cannot properly put a pump in a gas tank and pull a lever, I question your fitness to do anything.

    Lived in NJ for a while and had that same issue. Then the jackass demanded a tip. Asshole, I can pump my own gas but your inbred state won’t allow me. Fuck you.

    1. Yeah, I refuse to tip someone for doing something for me that’s mandated by law. Do you tip your IRS collection agent? Not likely. In fact, I think that’s illegal.

    2. In reality, seriously, the average American voter is too dumb to vote. How else can you explain that they selected: George Bush, George Bush, Clinton, Mondale, Algore, McCain, Trump, Obozo, Hitlery, Kerry, Dole, Dukakis, Carter, McGovern, Humphrey, and Nixon as major party candidates for president? Is there one of these you would trust to mow your lawn or look after your dog, let alone preside as the chief executive officer of the United States?

      And yet the vast majority of people each election have voted for one of these. The system could be improved, perhaps with something like ranked voting. But the fundamental problem is that the vast majority of people are almost unbelievably stupid. Especially Shikah.

  5. I had no idea this was still going on anywhere. Living in Texas, I have not had anyone pump gas for me in 40+ years.

    1. Has the Texas DMV gotten a credit card machine yet, or do you still have to walk across the street to the ATM?

      1. Some government entities don’t take credit cards due to the fees – some states have laws forbidding agencies from paying fees like that, others don’t allow it (same effect), card issuers don’t allow surcharges, state law may not allow for the concept of a ‘cash discount’, and it may not be practical or legal to direct credit card charges to a third party that charges a “convenience fee”.

    2. My home town still has a full service gas station, only it’s by choice instead of mandated by law. They also still do monthly billing for your gas usage that month. Of course, only something like 9,000 people live there and most of them are ancient so you can probably guess how they stay in business.

  6. Many stations in states other than New Jersey and Oregon offer attendant-pumped gas for people who want it, generally labeled “full service”. It costs more than self-service, but some people evidently are willing to pay the price, or the stations wouldn’t devote a set of pumps to the option. Ironically, some of the smallest gas stations are all full-service, and they often have the lowest prices.

    1. Who needs two different ways of dispensing gasoline?!

      1. Folks who like to spice things up a little?

      2. People who have to unload a wheelchair to get out of their car, as one example.

        1. In CT, self service only stations have to pump for handicapped..they have signs on the pumps.They have call attendant buttons on all pumps(in case of other problems too).I don’t know if you have to have a handicapped plate or hang tag. Lived here over 30 yrs and have never seen any attendant have to do this. We do have a fair amount of stations that offer both …full service pumps for.10 or more extra per gallon.

      3. I’m not 100% sure about this, but possibly NY requires stations that do repairs to at least offer full-service (attendant-pumped) gasoline. The only stations I know of that are 100% self-service are stations that only sell gas and do no repair work. Of course, the attendant can do other things too. But as I said, contrary to what one might expect, some small gas stations that are 100% “full-service” have the lowest prices. That could be because they didn’t have to invest in equipment to allow one attendant inside to accept payment in advance on multiple gas pumps, and authorize a specific amount of gas (by price) to be dispensed from a specific pump. That equipment can’t be cheap, and it probably requires a certain amount of maintenance. Which means that having one human attendant dispensing gas might actually be cheaper.

    2. Wait, you mean the free market has a solution to this issue of old people who are afraid of transients???

    3. I don’t know the last time I saw a full service station. We had two in town until about ten years ago. Haven’t noticed any anywhere else in that time, either

  7. How interesting that two of the most progressive states don’t allow motorists to pump their own gas. I who have live most of my life in the Southwest have been been filling my cars and trucks for many decades. And yes saving a bundle! But these two states to have people on the payroll to do the pumping. That adds to the cost of the fuel and slows down getting the job done so a driver can hit the road again. But then I guess one count on the progressive states to milk out of each and everyone all that they can get.

    1. Given how Progressives view people, I’m stunned those states lets those citizens buy crayons without licenses.

    2. It’s not that inconsistent. The Oregon law was designed to increase employment. That’s consistent with progressive goals.

      1. Then why do they let construction companies use bulldozers? They should mandate that all digging be done by hand. With teaspoons.

      2. I would argue that the Oregon law was designed to increase dependency, as the pumpers are probably otherwise unemployable. That’s consistent with progressive goals.

  8. Most of the small towns in Mass. where I grew up still have full service gas stations. My dad would go to the self serve where it was usually much cheaper and let me fill it up starting when I was about 10 years old or so-this would probably land him in jail now.

    If Oregonians can’t be trusted to pump their own gas, then they certainly can’t be trusted to charge their EVs or inflate their bike tires unassisted!

    1. Based on their track record, they also can’t be trusted to vote properly either.


  9. …and she’s probably still going to be sitting there at a pump waiting for somebody to perform an extremely simple, menial task for her.

    Umm…I want to say something about how this is pretty much what most women do all the time but I guess I’m going to try and high road this one…

    …Ah shit I failed…

  10. Went to Oregon last year and had never heard about this law. First gas station I went to I reflexively get out of the car and open the tank. A guy comes running toward me, waving his hands and yelling “don’t do that! I pump your gas!” I’m thinking “get the fuck outta here.”

    I look around wondering if I pulled up to a full service pump. Then he explains the law and I ask if it’s a Portland thing or statewide. I ask why he shrugs and says “I don’t know. It’s always been like that.”

    When I got back into the car I was still thinking “get the fuck outta here.”

    1. My first time in Oregon I managed to fill my tank before anyone noticed, though when they did I was lectured by the customers and not the attendant (who I’m pretty sure I never saw). According to the customers, someone was going to get a $500 fine for what I did. I cleverly drove away, having arrived and left while everyone else just sat there in their cars.

  11. I’d trust Joe at the station to find and fill a Camry, but if you drive anything out of the ordinary, you’ll have to stand there and direct the operation. Sometimes in a LOUD voice.
    Thanks, I’d rather do it myself.

  12. I remember visiting NJ on a family vacation and taking pictures of the guy pumping the gas because it seemed so strange.

  13. I just got back to central Oregon, and my daughter was about why Oregon’s law (existing) was the way it was. Turned into a great opportunity to explain economics and second-order effects to her.

  14. Also, in Oregon, you can pump your own diesel, even if many attendants don’t realize it.

  15. Man, gas pump attendants must have a powerful lobby. I’ve never encountered anyone of any political persuasion that didn’t think that the mandatory gas pumping laws in NJ and OR were a complete joke.

    1. I love hearing people from those states criticizing dumb laws elsewhere.

      “Yeah, ‘X’ law is pretty stupid…but we can pump our own gas, fucking idiot”

  16. These laws are inane, and it’s fun for an out of stater to innocently hop out of the car and start fueling up (most pumps are live), then wait for the gas station operator to come running over “you can’t do that – it’s illegal!” – “Oh, sorry: Why don’t you finish the job 😉 “

  17. The proper term for this is “make work”. Outlawing “do it yourself checkouts” would be another means to create additional jobs. Requiring price stickers on everything sold in stores is another. This last one actually is helpful since here in Michigan stores only need to post a price on a shelf and unless you carefully check, the item above the shelf price may not be the item that the price on the shelf applies to. This is a great deal for the stores because the price charged at the cash register is often higher than you thought it was going by the price shown on the shelf. Earlier customers may have moved things around and the people who stock the shelves also can make mistakes. Individual stickers solve this problem, but of course the store profits from these mistakes which why you sometimes see people using their cell phones to take pictures of the shelf so they have proof that the price was what they thought it was.

    1. The price stickers on the shelves also have the brand and quantity on them. I check that against the package and get no surprises at checkout. Occasionally in one of the bigger stores (Meijer or its imitator Walmart) I can’t find the right price sticker, but there are price scanners I can use.

  18. Laws, good or bad, are enforced by violence. Obedience is not optional, choice is not permitted. Good laws are violated despite the threat of violence because only people who don’t need such laws obey them. Hence, the law does not protect, it enslaves.

    The concept of law is the problem. It is based on irrational fear that creates a worse problem, universal suffering from a loss of security that the law was supposed to provide.

    Law creates chaos.

    Order is achieved by voluntary social measures, locally enforced, and will provide accountability.

    Given the current police state run amok, e.g., unarmed civilians being invaded at home and murdered, for “failing to obey commands” and the U.S. Empire putting a higher % of civilians in prison than the most oppressive countries, it’s evident our system of laws/enforcement is a mistake.

    Stop crying about bad laws and strike the root of the problem: Govt. by initiation of violence.

  19. Laws, good or bad, are enforced by violence. Obedience is not optional, choice is not permitted. Good laws are violated despite the threat of violence because only people who don’t need such laws obey them. Hence, the law does not protect, it enslaves.

    The concept of law is the problem. It is based on irrational fear that creates a worse problem, universal suffering from a loss of security that the law was supposed to provide.

    Law creates chaos.

    Order is achieved by voluntary social measures, locally enforced, and will provide accountability.

    Given the current police state run amok, e.g., unarmed civilians being invaded at home and murdered, for “failing to obey commands” and the U.S. Empire putting a higher % of civilians in prison than the most oppressive countries, it’s evident our system of laws/enforcement is a mistake.

    Stop crying about bad laws and strike the root of the problem: Govt. by initiation of violence.

  20. To clarify the record, New Jersey bans self-service gasoline, but not self-Service diesel fuel, as I learned when I bought my Audi diesel.

  21. Thankfully, we are in the sunset of fossil-fueled cars. Of course, these states could mandate that a staff member plug the power cord in.

  22. Sir, Oregon passed that law to create jobs.

  23. So, are you supposed to tip the attendant?

    Like in the bad old days where the idiot wouldn’t put your hood down from theoretically checking your oil until they’d gotten greased?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.