Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hawaii sets cap on gas prices


I read this article over at msnbc.com and I have to say I think this is good news.

Hawaii is taking an active stance in protecting the consumer. The frustrating thing about the article is that all of the experts seem to think this spells doom for the gasoline supply in Hawaii. That is stupid. People will continue to drive in Hawaii and if there is a gasoline shortage there it will be a purely fabricated action to oppose the gas cap. This is sort of the kind of thing FDR did with the utility companies in the New Deal. I think it's the government's job to tell companies what they can do and what they can't. It seems as though the mindset of the "experts" in this article is such that they feel we need to bow down to business if we want business to stay when it should be the other way around.

Business should be the ones bending over backwards for the right to serve a community. They should make the concessions, not the community. If I want to sell gas in Hawaii, then I have to follow the community standard of how to do it. Just because I'm going to make less of a gouging profit doesn't mean I'm not going to sell it there. And it's not like they need to market gasoline. It's one of those things people need and are going to get it at a local gas station. Period.

I think that is my point with this whole post. It is the responsibilty of local, state and federal governments to set standards that protect consumers. If a business doesn't want to conform to those standards then they shouldn't be in business anyway.

A lot of you might say it's not the governments business, hum-bug, if the government can't protect us from these pirates, who will? Free markets don't work. Look at trial lawyers. That's an unregulated free market and those ass-holes are out of control. They're starting to de-regulate the utility companies and that is what's causing all of these ridiculous energy crises. We need to regulate these corporate pirates and we need to do it now. Industry will adapt to the changes. If you think they won't adapt to make a profit you're crazy. Look at the automotive industry and safety standards. They didn't go bankrupt because of government regulation, people still buy cars.

We need to regulate businesses. Period. (thats in my humble opinion, anyway)

6 comments:

Kevin said...

"We need to regulate businesses. Period."

Yeah, looking at the corruption of the independent films industry. I think there should be a bureau of independent film making. People who want to make independent films should go through a state run licensing process. Each film should require a permit, and go through both pre-filiming and post filming review process. I think there should be both a film tax and price controls on ticket prices so that everyone can see independent films. I see theatres charging like $6.00 to $10.00 bucks for a movie. There should be a $5 cap on ticket prices.

There should be film inspectors who look over the shoulders of directors to prevent this horrible undercurrent of sexism, racism and violence that dominates the industry.

As for pump prices. $3.00 a gallon is still low considering the damage that we are doing to the world with our vehicles. I agree with regulating prices, but I think the price should be set at $5.00 a gallon. We should soak them SUV drivers and RV drivers for everything they are worth.

Kevin said...

Here is the future: Hawaii Biodiesel. Island paradises tend to have lots of sources for biodeisel such as fish guts and day old sushi. You can rent a Bio Beetle when you show your film at BYU Hawaii.

There is an unconfirmed rumor that the Hawaii islands are volcanic and rich in Geothermal energy.

Places with oceans have a thing called hydropower. People living on islands have substantially less need for cars than the mainland.

Letting the prices soar provides resources and attention for the real future ... which is alternative energy. My vote is that the wage and price committee adjust the price upward.

Bryan said...

I have to say, I come off more hardline than I really am. I do beleive that if your car gets under a certain MPG then you should pay much more for gas. I do agree we need to move away from fossil fuels and gasoline.

My point was less about gas and more about the state of business. We need to regulate it to the point where it isn't harmful to people.

Kevin said...

My take is the opposite. Too many regulations wipe out the diversity of the economy. Regulations tend to favor big industry over small business.

In my mind, the key to the article you cited is that there are only two refineries in Hawaii. My guess is that it would be politically impossible for a third company to build a refinery in the state. You have a broken market. My guess is that Hawaii would fix the pricing problem if they allowed a third refinery.

I happen to also be a rabid conservationist. Separated from the mainland, Hawaii is in a unique position to implement systems with new alternative fuels. Rather than building a new refinery, I think the state is best off to leave the price high and to let the magic of the market work its way through by developing alternative transportation technologies.

As for the crappy unsafe cars of the 70s. This embarassing episode in American manufacturing history occurred because there were only three highly regulated automakers dominating the world market. The automakers took the short cut of planned obsolescence. They made crappy cars that required a great deal of maintenance. That way people would buy more cars and more parts.

It was the competition from Japan that launched the high quality, safe cars that we see today. The Deming Quality control methods adopted by Japan made better, safer cars. The highly regulated Detroit bled. Chrysler even had to beg the US government for bankruptcy relief.

The big quality improvement came after dropping the regulations and the introduction of foreign competition.

My biggest fear in the auto industry is that the auto companies are all merging into supernational behemoths and we are regressing to the days of monopoly and killing the diversity in the market.

The same thing is happening with oil. The monopolies are returning.

Bryan said...

I think you are right about Hawaii being able to go alternative. It's a good idea.

But I think it's silly to think the market will take care of everything. Honestly, look at the utility companies. They didn't get out of control and gouging until the regulations were lifted. The free market turns off power in rolling black outs because they've artificially driven prices up to ridiculous heights. The whole "all the market can bear" stuff is bullshit.

Either we need good regulations, or we just need to open our borders and do what the EU is doing. It's working for them and they are becoming an economic force to be reckoned with.

Bryan said...

Oh, and you're right about a $5 cap on movie prices. I think way more people would be able to afford to go to the movies with a lower ticket price.