It’s one thing to have a great government policy put in place with intention of seeking justice. It’s quite another to continue to promote policies whose unintended consequences hurt the most vulnerable populations.
Even though Iraq has the world’s third largest oil reserves, the lack of a reliable infrastructure, sabotage, and government-imposed price controls (oil is $.05 a gallon, a holdover from the Saddam Hussein regime) make gas for law-abiding citizens hard to come by.
These price controls result in forced government rationing. Now new regulations allow driving only on every other day, depending on your license plate number. Last Tuesday was the first day of the restrictions, and only cars ending with odd numbers were allowed on the streets of Baghdad.
Reuters reports on the effect that these policies are having on Iraq’s working classes, such as they are. Taxi driver Amir al-Hameeri, who did not take his car out on Tuesday, fearful of a fine equivalent to $20 if his even-numbered licence plate was spotted.
“It’s a ruthless decision against the poor,” he grumbled. “How can I feed my family now?”
This is a prime example of how policies which may have the best of intentions (affordable fuel for all Iraqis) that ignore the realities of the marketplace have adverse consequences. And as always, it is the poor among us who suffer the most.
Here’s an NPR story with more on how motorists are “beating the system” through black markets and other means.
HT: John Powers