Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

June 11, 2014

OUR VIEW: Gas market no place for local governments

GLASGOW — We’re as unenthusiastic as anyone about the seemingly endless climb of gasoline prices and the financial burden it places on families. We’d love to see fuel costs begin a consistent downward trend, although there’s little reason to expect that to happen anytime soon.

Over in Somerset, city government will soon begin retailing gas in an apparent effort to “stabilize” fuel prices in the region, according to the Commonwealth Journal newspaper. The city will buy gas wholesale from an area refinery and price it based on a regional average.

We hope officials in Glasgow don’t get any bright ideas. Entering the increasingly emotion-laced gasoline market to compete against private businesses is not the role of local government, in our view. As vital as gasoline is in the daily lives many of us lead, it is indisputably a discretionary item, and the gas market is unlikely to change unless swaths of consumers nationwide dramatically alter their purchasing habits. The thought of taxpayer money being used to explicitly and directly challenge or influence private business is troubling, and Somerset’s road ahead is potentially fraught with peril.

Gasoline is not a basic necessity. It is not a utility. It is not a service that governments are obligated to provide to their citizens. The sense that gas is a requirement is a byproduct of how we choose to live, so we need to examine our lifestyles – and make appropriate changes – rather than relying on the government to inject itself into private commerce.

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