Congressional Economics

Mark Steyn writes a nice article on our current oil situation. Particularly interesting is a piece of text taken from the so-called NOPEC bill passed by Congress 324 to 82:
“It shall be illegal and a violation of this Act,” declared the House of Representatives, “to limit the production or distribution of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product… or to otherwise take any action in restraint of trade for oil, natural gas, or any petroleum product when such action, combination, or collective action has a direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect on the market, supply, price, or distribution of oil, natural gas, or other petroleum product in the United States.”

Apparently, our representatives are economic nincompoops. Have any of them ever taken an economics class? Were they paying attention?

Nearly all industries have limited production and distribution. This is by the law of supply and demand, not some monopolist conspiracy. The text of the bill makes it seem like Congress is demanding maximum oil production at all times, whether or not that would be the equilibrium level of output in a free and competitive market. In the jargon of economics, Congress is demanding an inelastic supply curve at the maximum level of output that technology can provide.

Sure this grilling of oil executives is put on as political theater. But I get the impression that most of congress (like our presidential candidates) have very little understanding of the way our economy functions.