Thursday, May 18, 2006

Forced Full-Service?


From USA Today:

In New Jersey, motorists who need to fill 'er up haven't pumped their own gas in 57 years. But in the face of soaring gas prices, Gov. Jon Corzine came up with a novel plan last month to try to ease the pain: allow self-service at some stations along the New Jersey Turnpike and see if prices dip. He believed prices could drop 5 to 7 cents a gallon.
This is absurdity on several different levels.

1. Apparently, the government knows the desires of these residents better than anyone. This contrasts F.A. Hayek's argument that says competition is the only discovery process by which people's preferences can be seen.

2. The proposed law change wouldn't make full-service illegal; rather, it would just make it legal to pump your own gas. Profit-seeking gas stations could still offer full service to those who wanted it. Wouldn't it better to offer people both choices and see which one they pick?

3. Justification for full-service is based on the danger and difficulty of individuals pumping their own gas. Bill Dressler, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline Retailers Association and Allied Trades, fears that "[Gas] could be put in the wrong container...[or] somebody getting out and smoking and they didn't turn the engine off." Funny, this doesn't seem to be a major problem in any of the other 48 states.

1 comment:

Elliot said...

When Neumann and I went up to a diplomacy tournament in Oregon last year we were surprised to find that it was illegal to pump one's own gas.

The rational for this stupid policy is that it creates jobs for low skilled people.

That quote from the New Jersey Gasoline Retailers Association and Allied Trades is hillarious. It reminds me of a similar statement from Saudi Arabia about how women are prohibited from driving because female drivers are a safety hazard.