Carter's Policies Not Just in Iraq
By Arnold Kling
Bryan thinks that Iraq is the victim of Carter-era energy policy. But we in the United States have no reason to feel secure from such economic idiocy. James Hamilton notes that energy legislation now under consideration wants to punish price-gouging, which it defines as
any finding that the average price of gasoline available for sale to the public in September, 2005 or thereafter in a market area located in an area designated as a State or National disaster area because of Hurricane Katrina… exceeded the average price of such gasoline in that area for the month of August, 2005, unless the Commission finds substantial evidence that the increase is substantially attributable to additional costs in connection with the production, transportation, delivery, and sale of gasoline in that area or to national or international trends.
Apart from the horrendous economics of this (imagine defining a stock-market seller as a “gouger” for selling shares at the current market price rather than the price for which the stock sold on average last month), I thought that once upon a time we had Constitutional protection against retroactive legislation. That is, even if you now think that it’s a crime to mark your gasoline prices to the futures market rather than to past purchase prices, if it was not a crime before can you be punished for failing to anticipate that Congress could make it a crime?
There is also much talk these days about “windfall profits taxes,” which is another piece of Carter-era nonsense from which we were rescued by President Reagan.