Unocal seems responsible
August 29, 2001 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Unocal seems responsible for driving up gas prices by taking shameless advantage of regulations and patent law. Why did our government get ambushed by a basic loophole that any first-year lawyer would think of? Maybe it's involved with too many things to do anything right?
posted by marknau (8 comments total)
I fight back by doing a "drive off" every fifth time i fuel up. I figure it evens out the gouging.
posted by clavdivs at 7:42 PM on August 29, 2001

You're forgetting about who's really getting hurt here... the Arabian oil tycoons.
posted by geoff. at 8:39 PM on August 29, 2001

More important, why the heck does the National Review think that the FTC, keeper of all things regulatory that live in the underwear of American business, is suddenly now the savior of all America? (Couldn't have anything to do with Unocal being a foreign company .... naaaaaah.)

Here's Unocal's own take on the RFG lawsuits. Thirty-five states attorneys general and seven Congressmen, plus several activist organizations, disagreed with their point of view, but the Supreme Court upheld the patent. As that second link makes clear, endangering states' ability to write public health policy, which gives a hint as to why the court ruled as it did. (This is the Court who affirm principled support for states' rights, except when they're being liberal.)
posted by dhartung at 8:52 PM on August 29, 2001

I obviously can't speak for the author of the piece (a guest commentator, NOT the National Review editors).

But I personally expect the government not to have its head up its ass when involving itself with regulation. Thinking about very basic consequences of what will come from their ham-handed interventions seems beyond them. I therefore conclude that the state is out of its element in many instances, and should rethink its fundamental approach.

This is just one example. Also see S&L bailout and the California "electrical crisis."

The lawsuits seem baseless, because the patent is good. I would have wanted someone to think of that before they passed all the damn laws, though.
posted by marknau at 9:03 PM on August 29, 2001

marknau: Please explain the S&L bailout bit in further detail, thanks. I'm just curious. Government agencies being at cross-purposes with one another, interests keeping regulation from actually occurring, etc., is all par for the course (see Ted Lowi's "Interest Group Liberalism"), but what other entities would have been "in their element" in handling the bailout? The same eternally faultless private sector of which the S&Ls were a part -- or, more to the point, the segment that included the sorts of boobs and self-promoting types who ran S&Ls? Yes, Congress and President Reagan shared plenty of blame, but it took the former and plenty of incompetent and greedy mofos in the Southwest to tango, as it were. Also, as seen in the whole dotcom business of the past year, the private sector can thoughtlessly misallocate billions of dollars (and possibly put the national economy in jeopardy) on its own, without government's help.

In any case, the NR is against any sort of campaign finance reform. Not just McCain-Feingold, but basically any finance reform. So who cares what anyone there thinks about regulation?
posted by raysmj at 9:52 PM on August 29, 2001

I understand the 1st amendment was intended to protect political speech, so *I'm* also against campaign finance reform in any form. Still care what I think about regulation? Seems like a strange connection, but let's push past that.

S&L officers were insulated by risk by insurance, but not restricted in what they could invest in backed by that insurance. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I would prefer minimal regulation, but if we are going to bear the costs of an action, we need to oversee it.

The dot-coms rose and fall without pulling in any money from people who didn't put it in there voluntarily. No-one had to be forced to fund a bailout of misguided dot-com CEOs or investors. That's as it should be.
posted by marknau at 10:57 PM on August 29, 2001

Can't push past that, marknau, since the NR was against the bills that met current First Amendment standards. Unless you have serious, realistic ideas regarding how to deal with the situation, in any case, bitching about government being too cozy with interests doesn't make any sense. Oh, and the government does end up paying for mass-scale business screw-ups -- like via deficit spending to pull the economy out of a recession, government backing of loans, social services and unemployment insurance to the laid off, etc., etc. All I have to say on the topic, though - just enough to keep you on your toes. Too much conventional wisdom in there.
posted by raysmj at 11:16 PM on August 29, 2001

1) Cut the scope of government to what it's supposed to do. That takes care of special interest begging.
2) Deficit spending doesn't pull us out of a recession. Good Lord, I can't believe people still believe in that. Burn your Keynesian textbooks, for God's sake. See for reference U.S. under FDR.
3) Just because some group of people thinks something "meets 1st amendment standards" doesn't mean I do. Any restriction on letting political ideas out is a no-go. Plenty of people are willing to sacrifice liberty for some expedient solution that serves their interests. I am not one of them.
posted by marknau at 1:17 AM on August 30, 2001

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