The bipartisan duo of former congressmen, Republican Bill Archer and Democrat Charlie Stenholm have co-authored a blistering column in today’s Houston Chronicle on proposed price-gouging legislation.
As Texans first and as past members of Congress second, sometimes we are left shaking our heads at the actions of our former colleagues. Despite the disastrous lessons learned in the 1970s when federal price controls were imposed on gasoline, Congress is now set to consider legislation that would bring a return to much of the same failed policies.
This time, however, proposed price control laws are being offered under the guise of protecting Americans against incidents of so-called “price gouging.” Call them what you want, but they are essentially the same thing: bad public policy that will ultimately hurt consumers.
Rather than providing needed legislative leadership to address issues affecting gas prices specifically or our nation’s energy challenges more generally, congressional proponents have instead chosen a political strategy that publicly casts specific individuals and industries as culprits before the American public. They have chosen this path despite all the historic, legal and economic evidence that price controls cannot and will not work, and will ultimately have the exact opposite of their intended purpose.
Both men serve on the American Council for Capital Formation’s board of directors. The ACCF has published a study on the catastrophic effects of price-gouging legislation, available here. We’d say the column and study should be mandatory reading for members of Congress, but the sad truth is, most everyone understands that price controls are disastrous. Righteous outrage is just too hard for some to resist.
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