Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Proposed Compromise on NJ’s Full- vs. Self-Service Gasoline Controversy: Legalize Both

Well, Oregon has partially allowed self-service gasoline, leaving New Jersey as the only state that mandates only full-service. In a snarky New Jersey Star-Ledger report, Oregon descends into madness, forces citizens to pump their own gas, Samantha Marcus reports that NJ politicians are steadfastly refusing to consider following suit:

"Just because we're the only state, doesn't mean we're the wrong state," said Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

"New Jerseyans like to be pampered, I guess," state Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, said with a laugh.
 But added,
"Not gonna happen. People don't want it. And if (Gov.-elect Phil) Murphy wanted to get off to a bad start, he'd advocate that," Codey said.
“New Jersey won't be abandoning full-service gasoline, Sweeney and Codey said”

I left these comments:

There’s only one fair solution to the full- vs. self-service gasoline controversy: Legalize Both.

There is absolutely no justification for government force to be injected into the gas station business where no public safety issue is involved. It’s not true, as Sweeney says, that legalizing self-service means “abandoning full-service gasoline.” Legalizing self-service gas pumps would not outlaw full service. The state would simply be removing itself from the decision-making process. It would end the forced restrictions forbidding station owners from allowing their customers to get out of their cars and do it themselves.

I hate waiting for service. Being someone who travels out of state often, I’m used to getting in, gassing up, and getting on my way without delay. Now, I have no problem with people who don’t want to get out and pump. My wife hates it. She has told me that if self-service comes to NJ, I’ll be responsible for keeping both cars filled up if no station near us has full-service pump islands. But that’s our business. I can live with that.

A free market is the only fair solution. Must everything be politicized? Full-service fans should not be allowed to use the government’s law-making powers—the power of the gun—to impose their full service on others who don’t want the cost or inconvenience of someone else pumping his gas. A free market—that is, a market free of coercive political interference—would leave the market—that is, the commutative voluntary choices of gasoline merchants and consumers—to decide. If enough New Jerseyans are willing to pay extra for full service, service stations would be free to provide it or lose the customers.

To paraphrase a famous saying about the weather, “Everybody talks about compromise, but no one ever does anything about it!” Well, let’s do it. The solution, as I suggested earlier, is to legalize both full- and self-service gas. That’s a true and fair compromise. Voluntarism, not force, is the only fair solution.

Related Reading:

After Big Gas Tax Hike, Will New Jersey Finally End the Ban on Self-Serve Gas?

New Jersey’s Still Debating Whether to Legalize Self-Serve Gasoline

A brief history of why you can't pump your own gas in N.J.—

Where Does Valid Law End and Regulation Begin?

What is Capitalism?—Ayn Rand

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