The world goeth fast from bad to worse.
Phillip M. Marston practices law connected with electric and natural gas industry regulation and restructuring. Mr. Marston has served previously as Of Counsel with the law firm of Dewey Ballantine, and as Director for Legal and Regulatory Affairs for XENERGY Inc. In 1998, he established a cyberspace-oriented law practice in Alexandria, Va., and generally represents energy and e-commerce companies involved in the transition to more competitive markets in the US and Europe.
Many public voices today want the government to simply mandate lower energy prices, as though that would solve the problem in a New York—or at least a California minute. But in times like these, when passions rise with the thermometer, it's always good to keep a sense of perspective, and consider how others have dealt with similar problems in the deep dark past. Especially in the field of economic regulation, where the past supplies so many delicious examples of what works and what doesn't.
Back in the 14th Century, around 1350, the Black Death spread across Europe and killed a good quarter or more of the population. One chronicle tells us that King Edward III of England turned to wage controls to confront a shortage in the supply of servants and accompanying price increases: