Joe Kennedy II Wants More Regulation of the Oil Industry

by Don Boudreaux on March 23, 2008

in Energy, Myths and Fallacies, Prices

Joseph Kennedy II knows neither the relevant history nor economics.  Here’s a letter that I sent today to the Wall Street Journal in response to Kennedy’s essay that appeared yesterday in that paper.

Joseph Kennedy argues for
more government regulation of the oil industry ("We Need a New Bargain
With Big Oil," March 22).  His argument, however, is suffused with
ineffective anecdotes (such as the untearful tale of the "young mother,
who had to move in with her mother to keep her children warm and
healthy") – with mistaken history (Teddy Roosevelt’s attack on Standard
Oil was for "the good of the nation" only if the nation was served by
breaking up a firm that steadily pushed the price of kerosene down) –
with naivete about government (Mr. Kennedy assumes that all those
additional powers that he demands for government will be exercised by
apolitical geniuses) – and with bad economics (his assertion that
private firms have no right to charge "whatever they want" reveals his
failure to understand that prices convey vital information and
incentives to producers as well as to consumers

So why, exactly, did you publish Mr. Kennedy’s uninformed and ill-reasoned essay?

Donald J. Boudreaux


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