Welcome to Liberrants, a blog dedicated to editorials, discussions, and studies of all things libertarian. Don't let the title mislead you; it's merely my attempt to be creative in describing myself as a "hopeful curmudgeon" who embraces the goal of the free, peaceful, economically vibrant society envisioned by America's founding fathers. Jump in! Contribute! Enjoy!

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Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States

A critically thinking curmudgeon whose goal, in addition to creatively venting about the imperfect world in which we live, is to induce critical thinking in others. The ultimate goal is to help bring about a peaceful world in which we can all live in freedom.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Please, Walter, Don't Give Them Any Ideas

I've just finished reading the most recent Walter Williams editorial (Hurricane Evacuation Lessons) to be posted on his website. Dated yesterday (28 September), it discusses the effect on prices, particularly for gasoline and emergency lodging, brought about by the recent evacuations of the Texas Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Rita. In the penultimate paragraph he makes the following comment:

Market allocation isn't the only way to make sure people economize on resources that have suddenly become scarce. Texas officials resorted to pleading with motorists not to top off their tanks. Their pleas were ignored. What Texas officials could have done was to place anti-top off officers at every gas station to make sure people weren't buying more gas than they needed to get to their evacuation destination. Texas officials also could have stationed hotel officers at every hotel. The job of the hotel officer would be to query potential guests as to whether they had nearby relatives or friends with whom they could spend a night or two. If they had relatives or friends within a reasonable distance, such as my example of the husband and wife with relatives in Austin, the hotel officer would tell them to hit the road. Would measures such as these have been preferable to rising prices or the unavailability of gas and lodging?

Very true, Dr. Willams, but I wonder how wise it is for one as widely respected as yourself (and whose columns are widely read by the entire political spectrum) to make this suggestion. While the baboons in charge of the machinery of state generally ignore your salient economic advice on every other topic, they are just twisted (and stupid) enough to take your tongue-in-cheek suggestion at face value and jump at the chance to misuse public safety resources in precisely such a manner the next time a crisis manifests itself. I cringe at the thought that they would justify their actions by pointing out that you recommended them, regardless of the idiocy of such an accusation.

On the other hand, such a flagrant display of rank stupidity might just be what is needed to push the public over the edge. I would be curious to see if any lessons have been learned by the end of this year's hurricane season, but the entrenched ignorance of economics coupled with an almost religious reliance on government doesn't make me optimistic.


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