Eminentoes

Stupak’s Stupidity

Who's advising the Democrats on gas gouging? Hugo Chavez?

By 6.1.07

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You probably don't know the name of Bart Stupak, a Congressman from Michigan, but in my mind, he is the most dangerous man in America right now. Let me give you some background.

As everyone who has a car knows, we are having huge rises in the price of gasoline. It's painful to buy gasoline. So Bart Stupak, with the endorsement of Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, has sponsored a bill that effectively punishes the free market in gasoline. He would impose fines and even prison time on gas station owners or anyone else in the fuel business who raised prices in what a bureaucrat deemed an unreasonable way. This is called anti-gouging legislation. It has passed the Democrat house.

It sounds good, but in fact it simply destroys the free market. It takes away the genius of the free market, which is its ability to respond to shortages or surpluses through the price system. It punishes one specific class of people in the economy, people in the energy business, while anyone else -- plumbers, electricians, lawyers, doctors -- can raise prices any time he wishes. This is an outrageous attack on the mechanism that has served America brilliantly. The price system. It also is an attack on the liberties of citizens. What if drivers want to pay more for gasoline rather than wait in line or face shortages?

Gas price gouging is also responding to a non-existent problem. The Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly studied gasoline-gouging allegations and never found any of it. But you can be sure a Democrat-led FTC will find some and someone will go to jail as an example for the others.

Why have the law at all? It is just a way of tying up a system that works extremely well. It is the thin edge of the wedge in socializing gasoline, a la Hugo Chavez, the Marxist dictator of Venezuela.

We do not need Socialism in oil. We don't need to as for shortages. We don't need another attack on individual liberties. Please, Mr. Bush, if it comes to your desk, veto this monstrosity. Mr. Stupak, I am sure you mean well, but attacking the free enterprise system is not the best way forward.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.