Wednesday, August 15, 2007
From Time, December 17, 1979:
Last week the Administration disclosed the details of its proposed emergency rationing plan. Each registered vehicle would be limited to a fixed number of gallons per week, and any driver who did not use his quota could sell his ration coupons on a "white market" for whatever the traffic would bear. Congress rejected a similar scheme last May, and adoption of almost any rationing plan is not expected before next autumn�unless Middle East oil is cut off.
Compounding the sense of drift, Energy Secretary Charles Duncan made public a confusing state-by-state conservation plan that calls for holding 1980 gasoline consumption to about 7 million bbl. per day, just about where economists expect it to be anyway. In an embarrassingly typical DOE bungle, the targets set for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut during the first three months of next year would allow drivers in those states to increase their auto usage.
Almost in desperation, the White House for the past month has been examining a consumption-cutting tax on gasoline. In late October, an Administration task force headed by Deputy Energy Secretary John Sawhill began looking at what the U.S. could do in event of a major supply interruption. From a list of 28 options, the task force came down to two: rationing or a gasoline tax.
I'd be fascinated to know what the other 26 were. There are only two things you can control in a market, price or quantity. It's unusual to control quantity in peacetime, which might be why we had to hear about MEOW.