Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Gas lines remind me of the 70s
Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.
SALT LAKE CITY — Yesterday I heard there were long lines at the pumps at least one local Costco; it’s supposed to be cheaper there.
Look, I can handle a pandemic and political upheaval. But I get a bad case of PTSD when you say the words “gas lines.”
If you’re older than say, 55 years old, you know what I’m talking about.
In 1973 and again in 1979, Middle East oil producers cut our supply of oil and raised prices overnight. America suffered a meltdown.
Gas went up to 77 cents a gallon, which was extremely expensive in 1979. And with disco music blaring on their car radios, Americans freaked out.
The biggest problem was finding gas. Worried the supply would all run out, Americans filled their cars as soon as they burned a quarter tank.
Lines formed and grew until people had to wait hours to fill up. They’d line up for gas at five in the morning. They’d even sleep in their cars to hold their precious place in the queue.
People questioned why the president allowed this to happen.
Many states enacted odd-even rationing. If your license plate was an odd number you could gas up on Monday and Wednesday.
If you had an odd plate on an even day, you could go through the long line but when you got to the front, they’d throw you out.
Despite the effort, some people still couldn’t get gas. Sometimes stations just ran out.
With that kind of tension day after day, it was inevitable that fights would break out on the gas lines.
Right when America was about to snap, President Carter removed price controls on oil. He slapped a windfall profits tax on the oil companies and sanity was restored.
So you can see why Americans who weathered this get more than a little worried when they hear the words “gas lines.”
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