World War II Gasoline Rationing Redux?

Project 21 Senior Fellow Deneen Moore has a letter in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Regulate Gasoline, Create a NightmareIn regard to the June 5 editorial-page commentary ‘Tradeable Gasoline Rights‘ by Martin Feldstein: Mr. Feldstein believes that the government should be the arbitrator of individual liberty by allowing government authorities to design an economic scheme to regulate drivers’ behavior and thereby control the amount of gasoline used in the nation each year.

Let’s not be deceived — tradeable gasoline rights is socialism cleverly disguised as a free-market mechanism. Why not suggest ‘tradeable calorie rights’ to address the obesity issue. The surgeon general can declare an ideal weight for American citizens and obese individuals can buy calorie rights from thin people.

Deneen Moore
Senior Fellow, Project 21
New York

Dr. Feldstein is a reputable fellow, to say the least, but his idea in this case sounds awful. Reminds me of World War II gasoline rationing. (Yes, I know we won that war.) I suspect an unintended consequence of Dr. Feldstein’s idea, should it ever be implemented, would be to teach a generation of young people to hate the federal government (“sorry, junior, we can’t go, Mommy used up her TGRs”). However, surrendering freedom to teach people to love freedom would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.