Price Controls on Gas: Is the Public Getting What It Wants?
By Bryan Caplan
According to a new Gallup survey, 53% of Americans want price controls on gas. So it looks like the democratic process is failing to deliver the policies the public wants.
But wait: 79% of the public opposes gas rationing. Since rationing is an almost automatic consequence of price controls, can we really say that the public favor price controls after all?
Perhaps more importantly, once you know both of these facts, it’s easy to see why politicians are reluctant to impose price controls. The public may not see the connection between controls and rationing, but most professional politicians probably do (or at least they have advisors to point it out). This means that politicians at least have to wonder: “Won’t the public blame me when the controls they want lead to the rationing they oppose?” It’s no guarantee that controls won’t come, but it does apply a brake.
P.S. Notice: What is arguably the biggest reason for the increase in U.S. gas prices – the fall of the dollar – comes in dead last on the public’s list of explanations. “Gouging,” unsurprisingly, remains at #1. Oy gewalt!
HT: Alex Tabarrok