That the General Assembly is even thinking about such a thing as regulating gasoline prices confirms that North Carolina is governed by mouth-breathing, knuckle-walking cretins.

In the wake of Katrina I posed this, I thought, far-fetched question: “What if the buses in New Orleans had been privately owned, and the gasoline supply had been a nationalized, government-run quasi-utility?”

I noted that as the city of NO let its buses be consumed by the storm while gasoline supplies were conserved up and down the East Coast via a price signal, public control of an asset at least confuses, if not totally negates, important information about the value of that asset in times of emergency.

Although craven politicians refuse to see this, the long-term profit-maximizing route for private gasoline production seems to be to try to spread out a constrained supply for as long as possible until something like full capacity is available. In other words, distributors raise prices enough to deter sales, not to ?gouge? people. As supply dwindled nearly to exhaustion in some markets, wholesale ?over-allocation? fees kicked in. These were intended to discourage one or two distributors from buying up the remaining supply. Try to ?corner? the market in gas, and you?ll pay an extra 50 cents a gallon. Clueless consumer groups predictably screamed bloody murder about the surcharge, heedless of how this pricing mechanism helped save and spread out a scarce supply and ensure consumers would have some gas to buy at some price.

And now we have the hollow demagogues of Raleigh come to save us all. Have they no shame? No, shame is a higher brain function. You can no more shame a politician in full vote-grubbing mode than you can shame a barnyard animal at the trough.

Were it not exceedingly cruel to the animal, I’d say slap some lipstick and a dress on Koko the gorilla and point her towards the statehouse. We might both improve the gene pool up there and marvel at elected representatives who can communicate beyond grunts and tics.

But as it stands, I fear we are doomed.