For someone who ran what I personally thought was a fairly good presidential campaign, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie still manages to put his sizable foot in his mouth on a regular basis for no apparent reason. As one of the few remaining native Republicans in the Garden State, Christie has attempted to do his part to curb government regulations where they run amuck, but there are limits to how much can be done in a state equally divided between liberal Democrats and really liberal Democrats. The latest subject in this particular discussion focuses on one of the more superfluous arguments in modern politics, but one which still rankles many visitors to the state. New Jersey is the last state in the nation where it’s illegal to pump your own gas when you go to fill up your car.

Why? That’s a great question and I’m sure there’s an answer out there somewhere, but it’s probably not the one that the Governor decided to highlight during a press availability this week. It’s illegal, according to Christie, because the ladies don’t want to get of the car and operate the pumps. (Philly Voice)

Ah, self-serve gas. New Jersey is the last state in the entire nation to make it illegal for residents to pump their own fuel into their own vehicles after Oregon lifted its ban on a 64-year-old tradition last year.

Christie said the only reason the state keeps the rule is because New Jerseyans want it to stick around, reported.

And, it’s mostly women who prefer for someone else to do the work for them, he said.

“This is an incredible gender issue,” Christie said at the meeting and reported. “We polled this over and over. The last poll we did on this question, 78 percent of New Jersey women said they were opposed to self-serve gas. 78 percent! You can’t find 78 percent of people in New Jersey who agree on anything!”

As government regulations go, this is one of the more idiotic ones on record. I’m sure there was a time when a gas pump was considered a potentially dangerous piece of newfangled technology which should only be entrusted to expert hands lest the hoi polloi set the town ablaze. But for a long time now they’ve been about as safe as any device intended to move a flammable substance could be. I suppose if you took a poll of who does or doesn’t want to pump their own gas, women might come out more strongly against it to some degree based on baked in cultural norms or their tendency to dress better (and more expensively) than men, but why on Earth would a politician bring that up? It’s a pointless, self-inflicted wound. Of course, Christie may very soon be out of politics permanently so it probably doesn’t matter.

But why can’t New Jersey’s legislature just get rid of the law? The free market can readily address any remaining issues. Nobody is asking for a law prohibiting a service attendant from pumping your gas… they just want options. In most states you can readily find a full service pump if you wish, but the self-service ones tend to be a bit cheaper. That’s just economics 101. Wouldn’t the legislature want to give people the chance to save a few bucks?

The New Jersey State Animal is the horse. Perhaps they should just go back to an equine based transportation system.