Gas Rationing Controversy Misses Main Point
January 29, 1975.Nine gallons of gasoline per week plus the right to beg for more from your friendly rationing board.This is the prospect for Americans if Senator Mike Mansfield and his Congressional colleagues have their way in the current controversy over the energy shortage.President Gerald Ford has imposed a tax of $1 per barrel on foreign crude oil - with more hikes promised - in order to discourage its use.
It is variously estimated that this will raise the cost of gasoline 2 to 10 cents per gallon and other oil products proportionally. The tariff could cost U.S. consumers up to $30 billion per year.
Congress wants to cancel the tax and keep gasoline prices as low as possible. The use of gasoline would be controlled by rationing.To those of us who lived through rationing during World War II, the possibility of more of the same is dismaying. We remember vividly the cheating, price gouging, black marketing, and frustration - at a time when all-out war was having a maximum effect on our sense of sharing.It is incredible that any one would seriously suggest rationing in this era of concern for "uno numero.
".Aside from creating a new, vast, and disinterested corps of bureaucrats the cost of administering any rationing plan would be about double in taxes any increase in gas pump prices.As usual, Congress is compounding our problems by trying to feed the multitude with five loaves and five fishes. It still hasn't learned that the feat was a one-time miracle.President Ford changed his mind about an inflationary income tax rebate on the basis it would be partially balanced by the revenue-producing oil tariff.
Congress, however, would finance the tax rebate with the largest peacetime borrowing in our history - at least $60 billion in 1975.Inasmuch as Uncle Sam is always first in line to borrow money, the mammoth loan he forces us to make out of our earnings will bid up interest rates to new highs. Individual borrowing for the purchase of homes and cars will be strangled even tighter than that which brought on our present recession.I have the uneasy feeling that the legendary beast that grabs its own tail and eats itself up wears red and white striped pants.Ironically, more and more Arab oil profits are being invested in U.
S. securities. The old cliché that government deficits are not important "because we owe it to ourselves" can not stand up even to that stupid comment.
President Ford threatens to veto any rationing attempt.Congress threatens to refuse a raise in the national debt limit unless the president rescinds his oil tariff.Let's hope this is a genuine and permanent stand off.If Ford will kill rationing, and if Congress will keep the lid on its own profligate spending, the rest of us might be able to straighten out the mess big government has gotten us into.Alas, however, such relief is a mirage.In the end we will have political compromise which will give us the worst of both worlds.
We will have more government control AND higher taxes.It was ever thus.In all the partisan hullabaloo, both the White House and Congress have forgotten the main point of the argument: energy conservation.The oil tariff is designed to cut down on our use of oil.
With lower oil use, the less impact higher cost will have on consumers.Our experience with last winter's oil embargo and skyrocketing oil prices cut our oil dramatically - without rationing.I know of no one who was seriously hampered by higher fuel costs, although we had to change our spending habits.We can expect that higher costs of oil will motivate each citizen to practice individual rationing.
In the long run that is the only lasting solution to the problem.Congress has worked up quite a sweat over the spectre of the poor working man having to pay a premium to drive to work.At the risk of sounding like Marie Antoinette ("let them eat cake") I suggest that the answer to our energy problem is some means of making it too expensive for one man to drive himself to work in his private chariot.The long range answer to oil use is public transportation, and individual vehicle capacity - otherwise known as car pooling.Rationing will only postpone the careful use of our energy resources, and at a price better spent on other worthwhile goals..
Lindsey Williams is a Sun columnist who can be contacted at:.LinWms@earthlink.net.LinWms@lindseywilliams.org.Website: http://www.
lindseywilliams.org with several hundred of Lin's Editorial & At Large articles written over 40 years.Also featured in its entirety is Lin's groundbreaking book "Boldly Onward," that critically analyzes and develops theories about the original Spanish explorers of America. (fully indexed/searchable).
By: Lindsey Williams