Can we pump our gas again?

The policy responses to Covid-19 can make interesting storytelling. There are funny contradictions and sad inconsistencies. Before the outbreak of this disease, it had already become safe to pump gas in rural Oregon.

When SARS-CoV-2 spread through the Beaver State in March, pumping one’s own gas was still deemed too dangerous for urban Oregonians. By the end of the month, the Oregon State Fire Marshal temporarily lifted the urban self-service ban. The risk of gas stations blowing up was considered less pressing than catching the rona.

On May 24th the acute risk of blowing up filling stations suddenly returned. The pandemic pragmatism at the pump expired. Once again we needed those highly skilled station attendants to serve us gasoline for our own safety.

Given the resurgence in infections, could we at least pump our own gas again? It’s so absurd just to put that request in writing. This regulation is a farse. In all my imagination, I cannot think of an opportunity for deregulation that is more Pareto Efficient.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is also the author of We were winning when I was there.