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We’re Gonna Die: How Oregon’s ‘Gas Crisis’ Shows the Psychological Trap of Government Intervention

The world is ending, or at least it is in Oregon.

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By Mason Mohon | OREGON

The world is ending, or at least it is in Oregon. Since 1951, Oregon law has mandated that all gas stations have attendants working there to fill up gas on behalf of drivers. 

The intent of this law was to boost employment. Ever since it was made known that rural towns within Oregon would no longer have to abide by this law, all hell broke loose. Oregonians are afraid, and this “fear” shows an all too real issue in American society today: People have become attached to the state, so much so that they cannot bear to see life without it.

First, the situation within Oregon must be analyzed. As NPR reports, “As of Jan. 1, gas stations in counties with a population of less than 40,000 are permitted to offer self-service. While the change in the law is expected to affect a small number of people, Oregonians took to social media to express their discontent.” This discontent was great indeed and echoed what I would see in a post from The Onion. NPR went on to say “The responses to a now-viral Facebook post by a local TV station ranged from concerns about smelling like gasoline to being attacked by drifters lurking around stations. Some said they didn’t even know how to pump gas.”

Yes, these Oregonians are this scared and are this fearful of gas. As somebody who lives in Texas and pumps his own gas, I can confirm that pumping gas does not make you smell like anything.

This hysteria has raised a dangerous issue – once the government intervenes, people cannot even imagine life without it. A classic thought experiment free-market economics professors like to do is telling the student to imagine if the state were to nationalize t-shirt or sneaker productions. Most likely we wouldn’t be able to imagine life without it. The ones who do, though, are what Bastiat called the “good economists,” who were those that saw what was unseeable to the layman.

Oregonians were dependent on this regulation, and they are so scared of life without it that it has turned them into a national joke. This government dependent attitude is not new, though. Recently, taxes were cut, Obamacare was nearly destroyed, and net neutrality was repealed. People got so afraid of every single one of these actions in every end of the political spectrum. People couldn’t imagine the internet functioning without government regulation, nor could they imagine the rich paying fewer dollars in taxes or even being responsible for your own health.

This is a dangerous psychological threat to people everywhere. We cannot sit by and expect the state to do everything for us, because what if something goes wrong one day? What if the state collapses, shuts down, or misallocates resources? You’ve been so dependent on it that you will be helpless without it. People become dependent on the state, so they give it more power. The people in charge live off the dependent backs of the masses, and nobody will ever question. This is the danger of a lack of personal responsibility – when you become dependent on a person or organization, they can now control you.

Thankfully, Oregonians may discover a nice law of the free market. Chances are, they are going to discover that the market serves demand. Although there may not be much competition in rural areas, the stations that have servicemen filling up your car for you will probably have a competitive edge on other stations. Either way, though, this will probably cause Oregonians who do not see a continuation in served gas will both learn how to do a very easy task that they will have to do anytime out of the state and save a few dollars.

We must be incredibly wary when advocating for government involvement in any market, ever, for its damages can be detrimental to masses of individuals and society as a whole. The term “sheep” tends to be a bit of a cliche, but when it comes to being dependent, it definitely applies. Men are responsible. Sheep are dependent.

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