Most Americans were probably drop-jawed to learn there was a state in the union where government overseers prohibited the people from pumping their own gas. The ultra-progressive and ever-controlling Oregon Legislature had banned this otherwise normal behavior for more than 50 years, ostensibly to provide some form of protection for its residents.
This is the practical reality of the general principle that government coddling creates entitlement, pampered residents with fewer freedoms, and reduced abilities to live independently. Oregon has been telling its residents for generations they are incapable of pumping their own gas, and now there are generations of Oregonians who are terrified at the prospect of doing what more than 300 million other Americans do without a thought.
The first thing that comes to mind are the scenes from the animated Pixar movie Wall-E, where the remainder of earth’s population cruise the galaxy on the spaceship Axiom. The passengers are so dependent on the automated ship that they have become obese, too feeble to walk and incapable of caring for themselves. They definitely would not have been able to pump their own gas.
But now the Oregon Legislature moved partially into the 1980s when it recently passed a law allowing rural gas stations to let people pump their own gas. Portlandians are still safe from the ordeal; government continues to protect them from gas pump handles. But others in the supposed rugged rural areas are outraged at the change (because outrage comes easily these days.)
Take a look at some of these Facebook comments from Oregonians in response to the legislature catching up to 1980 America:
“I don’t even know HOW to pump gas and I am 62, native Oregonian … I say NO THANKS! I don’t like to smell like gasoline!” one woman commented.
“No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help,” another woman wrote. “Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe too. This is a very bad idea. Grr.”
“I’ve lived in this state my whole life and I refuse to pump my own gas. This is a service only qualified people should perform. I will literally park at the pump and wait until someone pumps my gas.”
This is really a thing in Oregon. Most of the rest of the country may laugh and mock them (except big-government nanny state New Jersey, the only remaining state with such a law) but people long relying on government-forced service don’t like losing that service. They believe they have an entitlement.
“I think that we are getting tarnished in social media,” Lizzy Acker, a reporter for The Oregonian, told NPR. Well, yes. There’s sort of a reason for that. But Acker is confident in Oregonians ability to actually pump their own gas. “And I think most Oregonians are self-sufficient enough to figure out how to pump their own gas.”
Just read that statement. There may not be a better example of how progressivism breeds dependency on government — more and more power for government over weaker and weaker people. Not surprisingly — to people who understand how capitalism works — Oregon is one of the most expensive states in the union for a gallon of gas.
Oregon’s 56-year gas-pumping law is a cautionary example of how more government regulation and control immediately limits freedoms and breeds dependence and entitlement.
Perhaps one day, all Americans will be free to pump their own gas. But only if they choose leaders with a vision for freedom over governmental dominion.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.