Thursday, July 24, 2008

Minimum Markup Law: Another Imagined Problem Looking for a Solution?

Let’s take a look at the recent diversion instigated by the now agenda-less Republicans. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it this way:

A report by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a Thiensville think tank generally associated with conservative policies, said that as the wholesale price of gasoline increases, so does the impact of the minimum markup law.

The only reason this is getting any traction is because a “conservative” think tank is making another ridiculous pronouncement. The media continues to buy into the myth that assumes conservatives are responsible penny pinchers. Sorry, someone should take another look at the financial condition of the U.S. again. Their free market, deregulation policies brought us to this “brink of disaster.” I seem to remember, and correct me if I’m wrong, a reference to the Republican Congress spending like drunken sailors.

I love this “sky is falling” statement from Christian Schneider, a senior fellow at the conservative think tank. Wait a minute, senior fellow? Wow, he must know his stuff?

"The fact that minimum markup climbs at the same rate that wholesale gas climbs is a double whammy for consumers. The law means gas here costs 8 cents higher than it otherwise would.”

It doesn’t though, if you compare your local pump price with the rest of the countries prices. In fact, for a few weeks recently, prices were lower than the nation’s average.

You know something wrong when two Republicans jump on board for this imagine problem. “State Reps. Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) and Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) introduced a bill this session to repeal the minimum markup law. The pair this week asked Doyle to call a special session of the Legislature to repeal the law.

Gov. Doyle said, "These gas price problems are all over the United States - it's not like Wisconsin is some island."

Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) suggested lawmakers could replace the law with one that requires larger companies to maintain uniform prices across the state or regions of the state. "Gasoline . . . is not truly a competitive market," he said. "There's not that many players. The potential for large players to dominate is extremely strong."

No kidding?

Note: Here’s one interesting comment from a blogger: “Moreover, when advocates speak of repeal, they mean the whole law; those provisions that prevent prescription drugs, computers, clothing, food, and furniture from being sold below cost.”

My response: The U.S. Supreme Court recentling did away with a 90 plus law prohibiting price fixing. Now auto makers, software companies…etc. are preventing retailers from selling products below cost. This contradicts the free market ideals conservatives wants to put in place when it only applies to government regulations. No such rule applies to the moneyed private interests that lobby our politicians, and now our conservative court systems.

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