Arnold Kling

Carter's Policies Not Just in Iraq

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Was Jimmy Carter Elected Presi... Heroic Stature for Sale...

Bryan thinks that Iraq is the victim of Carter-era energy policy. But we in the United States have no reason to feel secure from such economic idiocy. James Hamilton notes that energy legislation now under consideration wants to punish price-gouging, which it defines as


any finding that the average price of gasoline available for sale to the public in September, 2005 or thereafter in a market area located in an area designated as a State or National disaster area because of Hurricane Katrina... exceeded the average price of such gasoline in that area for the month of August, 2005, unless the Commission finds substantial evidence that the increase is substantially attributable to additional costs in connection with the production, transportation, delivery, and sale of gasoline in that area or to national or international trends.

Apart from the horrendous economics of this (imagine defining a stock-market seller as a "gouger" for selling shares at the current market price rather than the price for which the stock sold on average last month), I thought that once upon a time we had Constitutional protection against retroactive legislation. That is, even if you now think that it's a crime to mark your gasoline prices to the futures market rather than to past purchase prices, if it was not a crime before can you be punished for failing to anticipate that Congress could make it a crime?

There is also much talk these days about "windfall profits taxes," which is another piece of Carter-era nonsense from which we were rescued by President Reagan.


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COMMENTS (8 to date)
T.R. Elliott writes:

Why not Nixon-era nonsense? Ford Era Whip Inflation Now (WIN) nonsense? You guys are so damn ideological, it's sickening. Who gave us Volcker? Carter. That's right. Not Reagan. Cater. Reagan gave us enormous deficits. As is his idiotic progentor, Mr George W Cronyism-Bush.

Really. Grow up guys. Start dealing with facts. Not your peevish ideological childish predilections.

rob writes:

Yeah, its a shame. Without anti-gouging legislation, we might find people speculating on gas prices going up in a disaster, so they keep more than just in time inventory. Legislation like this garauntees shortages in disasters.

Paul N writes:

More generally, how can we restrain the urge for Congress to "do something" every time an issue is in the public eye?

Mcwop writes:

TR
Nixon was a bad President, as was Carter. They each did some things right, but mostly they sucked.

T.R. Elliott writes:

If Carter and Nixon sucked, what does that mean for George W Bush, one of the most clueless people to inhabit the office of president ever?

My point, though, is that so many of the postings on this blog are just bogus. Earlier, we have the bogus shale oil post, which was then later caveated with the "maybe shale oil isn't as great as we thought because James Hamilton doesn't think it's going to help."

People just need to keep in mind that Paul Volcker took care of inflation. Paul Volcker was put in place by Carter. It was Nixon who was the king of price controls.

The original post drips with the ideological obsessions of its author. If you are going to talk about price controls, talk about the Nixon era.

This is not to say that there aren't many important contributions made by economics. But I highly suggest people read "Fooled by Randomness" a great book that puts into context the silly narrow realm in which most financial and economic thinkers operate, just narrow enough to (a) allow them to draw conclusions that are (b) totally worthless.

Mcwop writes:

You can add Bush II to the list with Carter and Nixon.

You last paragraph makes an excellent point.

Rick Gaber writes:

I may be wrong, but I believe there have been only two (2) Presidents with degrees in economics, GHW Bush (41) in Keynesian, and RW Reagan (40) in Classical, to the best of my recollection.

Jon writes:

I think those maintaining that Carter "sucked" are also forgetting that it was he who started deregulation of energy, banking, and transportation. The windfall profits tax was actually proposed by Carter when he announced a phased in deregulation of oil prices; this was partially a means of capturing the "windfall" that such deregulation would bring the oil companies.

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