Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Sorry Moveon.org

Moveon.org has once again asked folks to participate in an online petition. Generally speaking, I’m behind what they do, and I especially like it because it is a grass roots movement among the digirati. But I’m afraid I can’t get behind their most recent petition to stop oil companies from price-gouging. It’s not that I think the oil companies aren’t price-gouging—there’s no doubt about that. My problem is that a law of the kind moveon wants will set up the wrong kind of economic incentives that we need for energy independence. It’s not all that often that I’m on the same side as George Will, who has argued that [the government already takes more in taxes than oil companies take in mark-up](](http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,660221223,00.html). But to his point, a more productive law would not punish “price-gougers,” but rather force these companies to invest a percentage of their profits into more green alternatives. ((A law against price gouging is indicative of bad laws like laws against pornography in that they are notoriously hard to define. What is price gouging? Should Apple have to face laws against its $500 iphone? No? Because gasoline is a necesstity? After all, it was an inattentive public that allowed gasoline to become a necessity through poor urban and suburban design.)) Punish the oil companies and you’ll see supply reduced as gasoline moves to other faster growing economies. If the supply is reduced the price goes up. In the long run, punitive economic measures like penalizing price-gougers cannot hold.

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