by Donald J. Boudreaux
The American Institute for Economic Research
The April 1974 issue of Reason contains a newly relevant essay – “Fighting Back Against Controls” – by the late Henry Manne (who twelve years later became Dean of the law school at George Mason University). In this essay, which is derived from a speech given to a group of business executives, Manne bemoaned the political and public response to the nationwide fuel shortages that swept through the United States starting in late 1973. What makes this essay newly relevant is its applicability to the political and public response to today’s pandemic. The parallels are notable.
The Fuel Shortage
After quoting from a November 30th, 1973, Wall Street Journal piece by Phil Gramm – who argued that “Crises, as opposed to simple scarcity, result from market disruptions; and the only sector of society which possesses the power to disrupt a large market is the government” – Manne wrote: