Wednesday, September 07, 2005
  1700 years of idiocy

Watched a Senate hearing on gas prices last night. Too often the senators are 'bipartisan', i.e. uniformly leftist, but this hearing showed the genuine ideological difference between the parties in sharp colors.

The R's were using the experts as foils, asking questions like "If we were to draw a line on this map for you, could you then allow more drilling for natural gas?" Each question was basically "What can we as Congress, and you as regulators, do to improve supply and distribution?"

The D's were, as usual, proposing price controls. Ron Wyden of Oregon was the worst and stupidest of all.

Why can't people get this through their heads? It isn't some kind of avant-garde macroeconomic theory. It's been known since 300 fucking AD, for heaven's sake. The Roman emperor Diocletian was the spiritual ancestor of today's leftists.

A nice clear account:

When he ran out of funds Diocletian resorted to the use of forced labor for his projects. But Diocletian had issued vast amounts of copper coins. This led to price increases. When prices rose Diocletian attributed the inflation to the greed of merchants. In 301 AD Diocletian issued an edict declaring fixed prices; i.e., price controls. His edict provided for the death penalty for anyone selling above the control prices. There were also penalties (less severe) for anyone paying more than the control price. Irate consumers sometimes destroyed the businesses of those who sold higher than the control prices.

In the short-run these draconian measures may have curbed inflation but in the long-run the results were disaster. Merchants stopped selling goods, which led to penalties against hoarding. People went out of business but Diocletian countered with laws saying that every man had to pursue the occupation of his father.


Once you start down that road, you have to take it all the way to complete slavery.

PRICE CONTROLS NEVER WORK.

PRICE CONTROLS NEVER WORK.

PRICE CONTROLS NEVER WORK.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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