Editor's Note: The following letter to the editor is written by Bob Taschler of Bergen County. He adds that although he lives in Bergen County, he holds no grudge to anyone in New York who is seeking to provide for their family and their own safety. His letter is in response to the Rockland County's decision to limit gasoline sales to 10 gallons per person.
In an utterly "brilliant" move, the Rockland County Executive has created yet another reason for New York residents to come to Bergen County to buy "our" gas out from under us. Isn't it bad enough that New York taxes them too much thereby driving them to come to NJ to sop up what little gas we have available for ourselves?
Essentially the Rockland County Executive is limiting supply and every 1st year economics student knows that when you limit supply you create shortages, not solve them. This will force the demand in New York to come to be satisfied in New Jersey. Forcing people to do things not in their own best interest never turns out well.
If you check the lines at the stations in Mahwah on Route 17, you will see about half of the cars are from New York State. What if NJ restricted gasoline sales in NJ to NJ residents only ... or worse, each driver had to show license and reg to show proof of residency in Bergen County, or we added an out of state driver tax on gasoline sales "to make things fair". Or even worse, set up a barricade on the border and not allow any NY drivers to enter our state! What non-sense.
Of course none of this type of "law-making" would do anything to alleviate the problem. What would alleviate the problem? Increase the supply of gasoline. How? Allow retailers and wholesalers to raise their prices which would create an inducement for the industry to rush gasoline to NJ and to buy or rent electrical generators so more stations can open up.
If prices were to jump just an extra $1 per gallon wholesalers from Kentucky, Tennesee, South Carolina, Ohio, etc. would gladly drive their trucks to NJ for an extra $10,000 per load. Yes the price spike would annoy some, but with more stations opened and more gasoline flooding into the area demand will be satisfied quickly and the market would soon be glutted with supply and the price spike would drop very quickly thereafter. The lines would disappear and the home generators would be running full time until the work crews can get the lines and transformers replaced.
By the way, I saw an Exxon station with a very short line. He was selling gas at 40 cents more per gallon than the station with a 2 hour line down the block. Let's do the math. Buy 20 gallons and pay an extra $8 and get done in 10 minutes or waste 2 hours plus the gas burned up while online and save $8. That is $4 an hour which is less than minimum wage for crying out loud. I bought my gas there and got back home to use the time making repairs and cleaning up instead of being frustrated. The free markets solve economic problems best if only government would just get out of the way.
Bob Taschler of Bergen County