Opinion: Flat Earthers, Anti-vaxxers, and the Ban on Self-serve Gas
New Jersey -- where we might as well be living on another planet. You see, the rules of logic, science, and economics apparently don't apply here. At a press conference in East Orange the other day, Gov. Phil Murphy was asked it he would consider a law allowing self-serve gas to reduce the price at the pump should the state's gas tax take another jump this fall.
"I will not commit political suicide this morning in East Orange."
So that's a hard no. He will maintain the status quo of New Jersey being the ONLY state that allows only full-service fueling statewide. The question to the governor was valid. Many leading economists have reasoned that allowing self-serve in New Jersey would lower the cost per gallon about 5 cents.
Sure, with the same non-thinking smugness usually seen in anti-vaxxers and flat Earthers who don't know what they're talking about, people have argued this isn't so. They long maintained the reason gas was so inexpensive here was that we did not allow self-serve. Apparently gas stations are the only business model where costs are not reduced but increased with the addition of self-service.
The fact is, the reason gas had been cheaper here for so long was the low gas tax. A few years ago changed all that. We now have one of the higher gas taxes in the nation and the cost of gasoline here went up with no change whatsoever to the way it was dispensed. Yet uninformed people still attempt the argument.
Even Sal Risalvato, the executive director of the NJ Gasoline, Convenience Store, and Automotive Association has been endorsing the self-serve model for years. The labor cost savings is not offset by any higher liability insurance and the price of fuel would lower. An argument Sal often makes is the orange cones theory. Take a look at the gas pumps when you go. How often do you see an entire island closed off with orange cones? You end up assuming there's something not working at those pumps, or that those pumps are somehow 'out of fuel.' Right? Wrong. It's manpower. They don't have enough labor to keep all those pumps open. So if you want to make self-serve a choice and keep one attendant on for full-serve, they already have enough pumps to accommodate exactly that.
Safety issues? Please. Then how is it possible that 49 others states are doing it just fine without monthly horror stories of self-immolation?
Job loss? New Jersey has accepted self-serve in so many other areas that this argument is also hollow. And hypocritical. The stamp machine in the lobby of the post office. The self-serve checkout at grocery stores and convenience stores. The ATM. The airline tickets you're reserving online. The drinks you're pouring for yourself at fast food joints. How about the kiosks you're now starting to order from at fast food joints?
Every argument in support of a continued ban on self-serve gas is specious at best. At worst, these false arguments condemn New Jersey to remain living behind the times where too often the 'full-service' you're getting is a rude attendant who never says a word to you and won't get off his cell phone during the entire transaction. If that's the 'luxury' you think you're getting by maintaining this antiquated system then you have a form of beaten spouse syndrome.