Saturday, May 26, 2007

Congressman, step away from the pump

Sooner or later it had to happen. Gas prices continue to rise so Congress decided to do something rather than leave well enough alone. As Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute writes:

Tuesday, they voted to sick the Justice Department on OPEC for violating U.S. anti-trust laws (good luck with that). Wednesday, they voted to ban service stations from taking "unfair advantage" of motorists and outlawed "unconscionably excessive" prices for gasoline and other fuels were the president to declare an energy emergency.

What constitutes taking "unfair advantage"? Congress doesn't say. Apparently, taking "fair advantage" of motorists is O.K. And what is an "unconscionably excessive" price? Again, silence. Presumably, "conscionably excessive" pricing is O.K., as is "unconscionably high" prices if we posit that there is a difference between a "high" price and an "excessive" price. The fact that Congress passes this sort of gobbledygook suggests that they aren't particularly serious about doing much beyond providing themselves a talking point when they return to their districts this weekend.

So we have yet another set of laws that matches the posturing of our legislators. Do you feel better?


Jessica Menn said...

If Congress was really troubled by high gas prices then they'd get rid of the excessively high taxes currently levied on gas. That would cut the price of gas down markedly.

Steve Erbach said...


Ah! Cutting right to the heart of the matter! I wonder that the people in England and the rest of Europe don't go ape over the taxes on petrol. The Brits pay around $2.50 per gallon over there where we in Wisconsin pay around 45 cents. Of course, I'm not saying that we should thank our lucky stars that we have such considerate taxing authorities...

Steve Erbach
The Town Crank