Newsflash: Market Continues to Work
James Fussel has an excellent article in the Kansas City Star detailing some of the potential avenues for combating rising fuel costs in the long term. If you take just one thing away from the article, it’s that there has been a flurry of innovation as gas prices have risen. From plug-in hybrid cars to pure electric cars to hyrdrogen fuel cell cars, small breakthroughs have been made across the board in attempts provide cheaper alternatives to conventional gas-powered cars.
This is precisely what we should expect from a well-functioning market. As the price of gas increases, it becomes more profitable to both conserve and seek out alternatives. The practical result is exactly what we’ve seen. Consumers are buying more fuel-efficient cars while producers are looking for ways to make cars more fuel-efficient, as well as seeking alternatives to gasoline.
This is all occurring despite misguided political efforts, such as Missouri’s E-10 mandate. I shouldn’t have to point out that ethanol was not mentioned in the Star‘s article as one of the promising new technologies. A better strategy for lawmakers would be to cultivate the competitive environment that is necessary for the innovation we are seeing. In other words, enforce property rights and that’s it. Any attempt to "fix" the market is apt to cause worse problems than it solves.