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In This Case, Our Government Was Indeed to Blame

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


Worried that Americans today are “overly complacent” about volatile world oil markets, Spencer Jakab reminds Americans of the 1970s’ gasoline shortages – shortages that were, according to Mr. Jakab, “caused by events halfway around the world” (“The Gas Lines of the ‘70s Are Gone, Replaced by Complacence,” May 24).

But he’s mistaken. America’s gasoline shortages during the disco decade were caused by events on the Potomac.

Uncle Sam’s ceilings on energy prices discouraged domestic suppliers from bringing to market the full quantities of fuel that buyers sought at those artificially low prices.

It’s no surprise that there has been no nationwide shortage of gasoline since President Reagan, in one of his first acts in office, removed those price controls.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030