The Nanny-State Chronicles: Gas Pains in Oregon

I’m always happy to beat down on the perpetual silliness of my home state of Wackyfornia, but from time to time it is important to point out that our neighbor to the north—Oregon—is in many ways crazier than California, and has been for a long long time. After all, Oregon legalized pot several years before California got around to it, and Portlandia really is a pretty accurate documentary.

The latest thing out of Oregon is that as of January 1, it is now legal to offer self-service gasoline, leaving New Jersey as the last state that prohibits self-service gas. I went to college in Oregon way back around the time of the Boer War, and the legend at the time was that there was some kind of terrible self-serve gas accident back in the early 1960s (maybe someone forgot to put out their marijuana joint?), after which the state legislature banned it. Nowadays when I drive to Oregon I take my diesel car, because Oregon does allow you to pump your own diesel, since diesel is not easily combustible like gasoline.

The reaction of Oregonians to the prospect of having to pump their own gas—and many stations will surely look to cut labor costs in the era of higher minimum wage laws by shrinking staff—has brought out an excellent example of the effects of prolonged nanny-statism.

The Washington Post gets in on the act today:

Some commenters were angry and perturbed by the possibility of having to pump their own gas in the cold, while those from other states scoffed.

“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 wrote on KTVL’s Facebook post.

“No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help. Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe. This is a very bad idea. Grrr,” another woman wrote.

“I’ve lived in this state all my 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.”

By the time the law took effect, Oregon had become a virtual laughingstock among social media users who seemed to have visualized an entire state filled with hapless drivers.

“FEAR NOT OREGON!!! I’ve decided to move to Oregon to open a school to teach people how to pump their gas. Short-term business you say?” a man wrote and then listed a list of menial tasks he wants to teach people do.

“I’m in Wisconsin and with the wind chill it’s currently -17. You know what I did this morning?! Had to pump my own flipping gas!! It’s not that hard people!!” one woman wrote.

“It’s official. Oregon is full of mentally defective, full grown children, incapable of the most mundane adult tasks,” another man wrote.

Naturally this has given rise to some terrific WIP-worthy memes:

Can’t wait for the next episode of Portlandia. I think I can easily guess the topic.

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