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05/12/2005 Archived Entry: "Maryland outlaws low gas"

Gordon P. sends along this item and his commentary on it, When gas prices at four gas-stations in one area of Maryland dropped "too low" (to 199.9/gal), and an irate convenience-store owner who did not want to likewise drop his prices "blew the whistle" on them, State Regulators ordered the four "low-balling" gas-stations to raise the price they charge for gasoline by 5 cents/gal or face fines. Apparently, under pressure from independent gas-station owners, the State of MD passed a law to "protect" consumers from the alleged "destructive consequences" of gasoline "price wars" between big retailers, _by forbidding gas-station owners to cut gas prices below wholesale cost_. 13 States have passed such "anti-gas price war" legislation --- albeit, precisely how consumers "suffer" from low prices seems to have been deliberately left unclear... Likewise, why it is necessary to forbid gas-station-owners to lower their prices below their costs, which tends to be a self-correcting and quite short-term "problem" (it seems rather akin to passing a regulation to "enforce" compliance with Newton's Law of Gravity... :-P).

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