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I’ll Wager That El Presidente Maduro Never Has to Suffer These Consequences of His Policies

During the summer of 1979 in the U.S. price controls on oil and gas were still in place.  (These controls weren’t completely eliminated until Ronald Reagan, in one of his first official and most merciful acts as president, eliminated them in January 1981.)  Among the more notable consequences of these price controls were the insanely long lines that millions of Americans had to wait in to buy gasoline.  Twice that summer, each time while I was waiting in a long line in the hope of buying gasoline, I saw a fistfight between two motorists.  On both occasions one driver accused another driver of cutting in line.  On both occasions the dispute was settled with violence.  (On one of these occasions one of the pugilist-drivers was beaten up quite badly.  To this day I can still see his bloodied face and shirt as I and other drivers got out of our cars to try to stop the brawl.)

I’ve not seen a fistfight at a gasoline station since the summer of 1979.  I’m thinking that the reason has much to do with the fact that price controls put a premium on uncivilized means of rationing.

I recalled with not a little queasiness these disco-decade dust-ups as I listened yesterday to this NPR report on the experience of shopping today in supermarkets in Venezuela – a country whose government enforces strict price controls.  This report, without necessarily intending to do so, makes clear that price controls not only increase the costs of goods (and services) to consumers, these controls – in South America no less than in North – also often unleash violence as a rationing device.

(HT Karol)


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