Newsom's answer to high gas prices: Free gas cards!

Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool, File

While gas prices are up significantly all across the country, the hardest hit motorists are definitely in California. The average price there reached nearly six dollars per gallon this week, with some locations closing in on seven dollars. Of course, gas prices are always higher to begin with in the Golden State because of the massive taxes that are imposed, but this year they are breaking records. This is never good news for politicians because consumers (and voters) become grumpy when you start fleecing them too heavily. So what will Governor Gavin Newsom do about it? He’s proposing the same solution that his counterparts in the federal government have been employing. He’ll head out to the magical money tree in the back yard of the Governor’s Mansion and pluck some more “free” cash to give away to everyone. Or at least to the people who drive cars. (Business Insider)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new proposal on Wednesday to provide California car owners with $400 debit cards as gas prices have hit record highs in the Golden state.

“We’re taking immediate action to get money directly into the pockets of Californians who are facing higher gas prices as a direct result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” Governor Newsom said in a press release. “But this package is also focused on protecting people from volatile gas prices, and advancing clean transportation – providing three months of free public transportation, fast-tracking electric vehicle incentives and charging stations, and new funding for local biking and walking projects.”

This proposal has all of the badness we’ve seen in other recent government programs while doing nothing to address the underlying causes of inflated energy prices. The first thing we should point out is that there is never any such thing as “free” money when it comes to government programs. Everyone is still paying the cost, but the money is coming from the taxes that the state has already levied on them. It’s yet another form of “redistribution” of wealth, but working-class people are once again being disproportionately impacted.

This is also a form of “aid” that will be very short-lived. A $400 dollar debit card may sound nice, but anyone with a vehicle having a larger gas tank will only be able to fill up at the pumps four or five times before the money is gone. There is currently no reason to suspect that gas prices will return to “normal” by the time that money is gone and everyone will be right back where they are now.

But that’s where the Governor’s other proposals kick in. Just as we’ve been hearing from Jen Psaki and everyone else in the Biden administration, those who can’t afford to drive their cars can simply take the bus, right? And for three months, the buses and trains will be “free.” It’s all part of your patriotic duty and a sacrifice you’ll need to make to save democracy or whatever the talking point is this week.

What few people seem to remember is that California actually sits on considerable reserves of oil and natural gas. But in most places, the oil and gas industry is forbidden to go after it. This disparity is hardly limited to California, but the reality remains the same. We could drill our way back to energy independence and normalized energy costs in a year or so if the government would get out of the way. We’ve done it before, as recently as two years ago. But nobody seems to want to discuss that piece of the puzzle. I wonder why that is?