Gas Riots of the 70s

The Philly media seem to act surprised that people are taking high gas prices in stride:

Twenty-nine years ago, service-station owner Steven Lankin watched as a summer-night Levittown crowd seething over gas rationing, two-hour lines at the pumps, and a then-stunning hike to $1 a gallon turn violent.

What began as a truckers’ gas-crisis protest lasted two nights, June 23 and 24, 1979. It drew thousands of people and left 100 people injured, nearly 200 arrested, and one Shell station shattered in the first gasoline revolt in American history.

When inflation is considered, today’s drivers are paying more for gas; $4 in 2008 is equivalent to $1.35 in 1979 terms. Even so, the gas-buying crowd remains civil, though unhappy, at Levittown’s Five Points intersection, where the riots broke out in front of the Getty station Lankin has run since 1964.

I think you’d find people were more pissed off at the fact that there was no gas, and people had to wait in line, because government price controls created shortages which forced the government to ration gasoline.  The price may be higher today than it was then, but because the government has, for the most part, not gotten involved with manipulating the free market price of oil, there are no shortages or lines, and we don’t need rationing.

Of course, the funny thing about the gas riots of the 70s, was you had people vandalizing gas stations over the fact that there were lines for gas, and chronic shortages, only to realize later that meant there were fewer stations that were able to sell gas.   Sounds like the kind of collective stupidity South Park likes to parody, only this time it was real.

2 thoughts on “Gas Riots of the 70s”

  1. The other thing to keep in mind is that it was the 70’s, and people pretty much rioted out of habit at the drop of a hat in those days.

  2. I think it’s pretty safe to blame Jimmy The Peanut Carter, who blanketed everybody with his own peculiar “national malaise.”

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