Right on schedule: Time to go after those awful “price gougers”

posted at 4:01 pm on November 10, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

When allowed to function properly, the free market works very smoothly in bringing people the goods and services they want, in the amount that they want them, and for the price at which they value them. As much as people don’t like hearing it, the laws of supply and demand are no less vital in the event of an emergency — but politicians sure do love to rag on those greedy, profiteering businesses that jack up their prices in the event of a sudden supply shock or demand spike (a.k.a., “price gouging”). Anti-price gouging laws are a huge mistake that hurt the public at large, because all they accomplish is preventing the free market from doing what it does best: Quickly and efficiently adapting to conditions in a way that benefits everyone, and in an emergency especially, price gouging can save lives.

Predictably, of course, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, so begins the outrageous outrage against those who had the audacity to raise prices on things like gasoline and lodging, via NBC:

New Jersey has filed lawsuits against eight businesses for allegedly gouging customers with exorbitant prices in the days after Superstorm Sandy roared ashore, the state’s attorney general said Friday.

The defendants, seven gas stations and a hotel, are accused of hiking their prices from 11 to 59 percent in the days after the storm. One gas station was charging as much as $5.50 a gallon, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. The hotel, a Howard Johnson Express in Parsippany, N.J., allegedly raised its room rates to $119 after the storm, up 32 percent from the top rate of $90 just prior to the storm.

“We have received no indication that these defendants faced costs that would have made these excessive price increases necessary or justifiable. One gas station even paid less per gallon for a shipment of fuel after the storm than it had paid before the storm,” Chiesa said in a statement.

“Justifiable”? “Excessive”? “Exorbitant”? Excuse me, but how is it that any government possesses the all-encompassing knowledge to determine what is and is not an “exorbitant” price? Competition is a much more accurate and efficient regulator than any government can ever be, and perhaps if lawmakers and bureaucrats were wise enough to let the market do its thing, their citizens would be better off.

Lee Doren illustrates a great example with bottled water in the video I’ve posted below, so I’ll flesh this out using the example of hotel lodging. Let’s say you live in an apartment with a few friends in a seaside-town, and you know a big hurricane is coming. You also know that your street is prone to serious flooding and your power will probably go out, so you decide to go check into a hotel in a more inland location for a few days. You batten down the hatches and get the hell out of dodge, but when you arrive at the hotel you planned on, you find that the price of rooms is more expensive than you’d banked on. So, you reevaluate: Maybe you and your friends decide to squeeze into one room instead of paying for two, or maybe you think, well, I do have a friend we could crash with who lives even farther inland if we just drive a bit more. So now, you’re taking up zero or one hotel room whereas you might’ve taken two without the hotel’s “price gouging” — meaning there are more rooms available for the people who come along who might really have no other option.

In a nutshell, price gouging incentivizes people to take only what they really need to survive, meaning that a greater amount of people will be able to get the necessary supplies instead of arriving at the store to find rows of empty shelves. What’s more, high prices can incentivize suppliers to bring more of the sought-after goods into the affected areas.

Ever eager to assume that political intervention is superior to market solutions in allocating resources, New Jersey is currently rationing gasoline in certain areas, which isn’t having much effect on mitigating the shortages and the waiting lines. But, as Holman Jenkins writes in the WSJ, maybe we should all hug a price gouger:

Gas stations post the most visible price in the economy, and are target No. 1 for politicians looking for innocent entrepreneurs to scapegoat. One Florida station owner during Katrina told investigators the universal truth of all gas station owners: He raised prices because he had “too many customers” and was running out of fuel. For his honesty and good sense, he was slapped with the state of Florida’s first gouging subpoena.

… In the aftermath of this week’s storm, how long before the Northeast’s refiners and fuel distributors are back in action? Gasoline may well be in short supply for days or weeks. Nothing would be as therapeutic to the public interest as letting retail prices rise to $5 or $6 or whatever might help motorists make better decisions about whether to fill up or not.

Crackdowns on gouging are plausible only because the advantages of not prosecuting price gougers belong to the category of the unseen—the public can’t see the supplies that would be available but for price-gouging laws. A good statewide New Jersey gasoline panic might correct that myopia, at least for a while.


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Economic ignorance gets Democrats elected. Therefore they will promote economic ignorance as much as possible.

backwoods conservative on November 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

When allowed to function properly

Ya could have ended it right there Erica… Lot’s of things today are not allowed to function properly, because, when so allowed, the right people do not become rich and powerful and they cannot control the country or it’s economy.

SWalker on November 10, 2012 at 4:10 PM

O/T for all past and present Marines, Happy 237 Birthday. God bless each and every one and thank you for your service.

http://www.desertlover.com/
L

letget on November 10, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Quickly and efficiently adapting to conditions in a way that benefits everyone, and in an emergency especially, price gouging can save lives.

Or it can just ensure that the wealthy get to survive while everyone else dies.

Adjustable prices are a mechanism by which scare resources are allocated. You could just as easily allocate on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Excuse me, but how is it that any government possesses the all-encompassing knowledge to determine what is and is not an “exorbitant” price?

Since they set a law requiring that prices rise by no more than a given percentage (10 percent if I recall correctly). Businesses chose to disregard the law, so they shouldn’t be surprised when it comes back to bite them in the arse.

Stoic Patriot on November 10, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Economics 101. Damned shame people don’t have to pass a basic econ course before being allowed to vote.

glockomatic on November 10, 2012 at 4:40 PM

You could just as easily allocate on a first-come, first-serve basis.

If that were the case, you’d better hope I don’t get there first, because I’m one of those “evil rich guys” and I’d probably buy every single bottle of water just to be on the safe side.

glockomatic on November 10, 2012 at 4:42 PM

After 4 more years of Obama economic disasters future Democratic candidates will STILL blame Bush and dim-witted American voters will STILL believe them.

MaiDee on November 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

But tax gouging its citizens with 20 new taxes in Obamacare alone, no worries….

hillsoftx on November 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Price gouging definitely rations goods, but it has disproportionate effect on the poor.

In your hotel example, a rich person might still buy multiple hotel rooms at the higher prices even if they have somewhere else to go or could squeeze into one room. It’s not that they value the rooms more than the person in your example, they just aren’t as sensitive to the price hikes because they a more economic flexibility.

You also fail to acknowledge that there might be people who really need the hotel room but simply can’t afford the higher rates.

Price gouging might do some good, but it can be devastating for the poor.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

I can’t think of a single thing that is now more price gouging than college tuition.

VorDaj on November 10, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Just wait until ‘Social Justice’ is figured into the price equation of everything in Obowma’s second term…

… No bread for whitey!

Seven Percent Solution on November 10, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Posts like this are a big reason why people think the gop doesn’t care about the poor. While there’s no doubt that price gouging creates “economic efficiency” in the real world the rich are not affected whereas the poor must sacrifice. People don’t care if there’s efficiency if these are the results.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Price gouging might do some good, but it can be devastating for the poor.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

And what is wrong with that? Make an argument.

tom daschle concerned on November 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:43PM

Very true, and to that I say too f##king bad. Vote for Obama, reap the consequences. Obama makes the poor even poorer, and they’ll be the first to go. Some people just have to learn the hard way.

teacherman on November 10, 2012 at 4:51 PM

You’ve said a ton of insane stuff here lately Erika, but I think

price gouging can save lives.

Just might take the cake.

mythicknight on November 10, 2012 at 4:51 PM

But tax gouging its citizens with 20 new taxes in Obamacare alone, no worries….

hillsoftx on November 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Let me guess, you’re one of those greedy makers right? Don’t you realize that the Obamacare is ensuring that the takers don’t have to pay for THEIR healthcare. How selfish of you to expect equity in our tax system! 50% of the electorate voted for free stuff. This is a consequence of letting just anybody vote.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Explaining basic economics to leftards is a waste of time. They want what they want.

Adam Smith would puke.

Cicero43 on November 10, 2012 at 4:54 PM

And what is wrong with that? Make an argument.

tom daschle concerned on November 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

it jt seems like a nonsensical system to allocate the hardship that accompanies a natural disaster. I don’t see by logical reason the poor should bare the greatest burden from a storm. Perhaps you do?

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Directive 10-289. Point seven:

All wages, prices, salaries, dividends, profits, interest rates and forms of income of any nature whatsoever, shall be frozen at their present figures, as of the date of this directive.

bitsy on November 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Posts like this are a big reason why people think the gop doesn’t care about the poor. While there’s no doubt that price gouging creates “economic efficiency” in the real world the rich are not affected whereas the poor must sacrifice. People don’t care if there’s efficiency if these are the results.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Could you define price gouging?

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Are these the same gubmint watchdogs who have no prob with $600 hammers? $10 million dollar junkets for gubmint workers. Military planes to shuttle Botox Nancy from DC to San Fran every other weekend.

Just STFU hypocrites.

fogw on November 10, 2012 at 4:57 PM

When allowed to function properly, the free market works very smoothly in bringing people the goods and services they want …

One of the most perversely stupid statements I’ve ever seen. History affords countless examples of the free market not working “smoothly,” not correcting itself, not giving people what they need, not even creating profits. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

bifidis on November 10, 2012 at 4:57 PM

As soon as I saw this, I knew I needed to go find this gem. Although it’s in a broader piece by Erick Erickson, the relevant passage is from George Will… in 1967. It’s eerie in how much it nails what currently ails conservatism.

If nature is not as bountiful, or men’s capacities as equal, as once was assumed, then equality must be forced on men. That is a paralyzing thought for liberals, whose philosophy derives its name from the word liberty.

Conservatives are comparably disarrayed. True conservatives distrust and try to modulate social forces that work against the conservation of traditional values. But for a century, the dominant conservatism has uncritically worshiped the most transforming force, the dynamism of the American economy. No coherent conservatism can be based solely on commercialism, but this conservatism has been consistently ardent only about economic growth, and hence about economies of scale, and social mobility. These take a severe toll against small towns, small enterprises, family farms, local governments, craftsmanship, environmental values, a sense of community, and other aspects of humane living.

Conservatism often has been inarticulate about what to conserve, other than “free enterprise,” which is institutionalized restlessness, an engine of perpetual change. But to govern is to choose one social outcome over others; to impose a collective will on processes of change. Conservatism that does not extend beyond reverence for enterprise is unphilosophic, has little to do with government and conserves little.

Price gouging (i.e., exploitation) pisses people off for a reason. Say you have 10 bottles of water and 10 people. In the event of an emergency, you probably want each person to get 1 bottle since they’re all human beings and have approximately the same bodily needs. It’s a survival situation, and the aim is to preserve as many lives as possible. But with the free market at play, if one person outbids all the others and hordes the water all to himself out of fear of a prolonged disaster, then everyone else is screwed and dies off. In emergency survival situations, rationing is superior to pricing mechanisms.

Price mechanisms are especially bad since politicians already tend to be more responsive to the wealthy as they fund politicians’ campaigns. The point of these sorts of laws is to stop wealthier people from pulling up the ladder in times of duress, and to maximize the chances of everyone getting through.

Once an emergency has passed, then you go back to letting prices float. This is a reasonable approach.

Stoic Patriot on November 10, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Price gouging definitely rations goods, but it has disproportionate effect on the poor.

Thank you Captain Obvious.

TRADE has a disproportionate effect on the poor. If you have less money you can’t buy as much stuff like people who have more money.

What’s your compassionate solution for that? Lemme guess — we’ll just take money from rich people and give it to the poor people.

Here’s your red star, comrade. You’re now an honorary Democrat.

Cicero43 on November 10, 2012 at 4:59 PM

While there’s no doubt that price gouging creates “economic efficiency” in the real world the rich are not affected whereas the poor must sacrifice. People don’t care if there’s efficiency if these are the results.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or not. Let’s drop the word “gouging” for a minute because that implies that retailers should be forced to sell stuff at a loss when demand exceeds supply for no other reason than a bunch of takers find it difficult to pay for a motel room instead of heading to the local shelter. Their Obamaphone will work either places if the storm doesn’t take out the cell towers. But the real crux is how does government determine such things as “excessive pricing?” That is an arbitrary term with no basis in what it takes to deliver that product or service to an area devistated by a storm.

Beyond that, screw the poor, they voted for Obama. Let them ask the rat-eared wonder for free stuff. I have lost all charity in my heart for stupid greedy people who do not want to change that condition.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:00 PM

But tax gouging its citizens with 20 new taxes in Obamacare alone, no worries….

hillsoftx on November 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Thanks you for that point.+

Mimzey on November 10, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Without “price gouging” you will see a blackmarket spring up, where freelance entrepreneurs buy up all the critical supplies at the mandated low prices and then turn around and resell them at a profit.

Just like ticket scalpers do.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Lefty irony: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/11/10/peta-thanksgiving-billboard-asks-kids-would-eat-your-dog/

“This Thanksgiving, families can give turkeys something to be thankful for by choosing delicious vegan meals.”

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:02 PM

Free markets are base on supply and demand. When the supply drops, and demand increases – prices go up. Who’d a thunk it. Is raising taxes on a select few ‘gouging’?

mouell on November 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

it jt seems like a nonsensical system to allocate the hardship that accompanies a natural disaster. I don’t see by logical reason the poor should bare the greatest burden from a storm. Perhaps you do?

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

It seems you are non-nonsensical. Red_Herring is a fitting name for a logical failure like yourself.

tom daschle concerned on November 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

You also fail to acknowledge that there might be people who really need the hotel room but simply can’t afford the higher rates.

And what about the people who really need the hotel room but can’t afford the lower rates either?

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

One of the most perversely stupid statements I’ve ever seen. History affords countless examples of the free market not working “smoothly,” not correcting itself, not giving people what they need, not even creating profits. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

bifidis on November 10, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Countless? I’d settle for ten five.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:05 PM

And what about the people who really need the hotel room but can’t afford the lower rates either?

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Been there. Slept in my car.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

One of the most perversely stupid statements I’ve ever seen. History affords countless examples of the free market not working “smoothly,” not correcting itself, not giving people what they need, not even creating profits. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

bifidis on November 10, 2012 at 4:57 PM

And price controls have never worked, you moron. Depress a commodity by artificial prices causing more harm than ensuring cheap [whatever]. Other than having a slobbering Obama-loving governor who decided to e-mail condolences to Romney but called Obama, if I were in NJ I would be angry that it is already known that there will be electric rate increases because of all the money the companies have not been able to collect due to all those people without power. If these jumps in rates (which never go down as quickly as they are imposed) are not the consumate example of gouging through price controls, I don’t know what it is. The electric companies should not be able to recoup their losses on the backs of the victims of thier own ineptitude and demands that only union labor is allowed to effect repairs.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

In the US there are not alot of actual, what the rest of the world would call ‘poor’! We do have some who needs all the help they can get to survive, but the vast majority of ‘poor’ here have cell phones, tv’s, heat/air, free healthcare, food stamps, etc etc etc all thanks to the taxpayers! Believe it or not, the feds don’t do it, WE WHO PAY TAXES AND WORK do! And thanks to those who voted for ‘santa clause’ for more ‘free stuff’ you just might not be getting ‘stuff’ when regulations taxes go up so much, THERE are NO more jobs to tax?
L

letget on November 10, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Posts like this are a big reason why people think the gop doesn’t care about the poor. While there’s no doubt that price gouging creates “economic efficiency” in the real world the rich are not affected whereas the poor must sacrifice. People don’t care if there’s efficiency if these are the results.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Could you define price gouging?

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:07 PM

What’s your compassionate solution for that? Lemme guess — we’ll just take money from rich people and give it to the poor people.

Here’s your red star, comrade. You’re now an honorary Democrat.

Cicero43 on November 10, 2012 at 4:59 PM

That’s definitely a tough question. Perhaps Te solution is to have the government provide enough essentials during disasters that even if the poor are priced out of the market they can still get what ed to survive.

The main thing I have a problem with is that Erika implies that people who are opposed to price gouging don’t understand economics. She doesn’t acknowledge that it’s possible to understand the efficiency argument and still oppose price gouging.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

And what about the people who really need the hotel room but can’t afford the lower rates either?

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

The public shelters that are always set up following one of these things come to mind. You are trying to make taxpayer-funded motel rooms into an entitlement. Let me guess you’re one of those Obama takers that gave the rat-eared wonder four more years to destroy this nation.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

The main thing I have a problem with is that Erika implies that people who are opposed to price gouging don’t understand economics. She doesn’t acknowledge that it’s possible to understand the efficiency argument and still oppose price gouging.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Which brings us back to wealth redistribution and not economic priniciples. Cicero is right, you are a commie.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:10 PM

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:07 PM

I’m sure this definition will be lacking since I’m forming it off the top of my head, but perhaps it could be a price increase following a natural disaster that is at least 10 percent greater than the average rate of price increases on the product over the last two years.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:11 PM

New Jersey has filed lawsuits against eight businesses for allegedly gouging customers with exorbitant prices in the days after Superstorm Sandy roared ashore, the state’s attorney general said Friday.

If only we could make everything a UTILITY or RIGHT.

But who could play Santa Claus for us? Wait….the leader for the 2016 nomination.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srNl-jXttpc

Good, so we’ll have some more leaders just like the ones we have now.

….it’s TEATERLICIOUS here in America.

PappyD61 on November 10, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Costing £100 ($197 USD), the recently launched “von Essen Platinum Club Sandwich” is now the world’s most expensive sandwich.

http://most-expensive.net/sandwich-world

I can’t afford that (said in my best whiny-voice.) It’s not fair!

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:11 PM

I would think that the good governors of New York and New Jersey would dispatch the national guard to round up all those despicable price gougers who are working night and day to get gas and food back to the affected areas. Businessmen like this should not be rewarded for being capitalists!!

In fact — maybe we need an emergency executive order prohibiting people from profiting in disaster situations. And since it can be difficult to decide just when something becomes “profiteering”, we should just make it illegal for anybody to charge for products or services that they might sell. That would be the only way to be sure everything is fair.

======================
Wow. . . it can be hard learning Liberalthink here in this Brave, New World. . . .

Narniaman on November 10, 2012 at 5:12 PM

I’m sure this definition will be lacking since I’m forming it off the top of my head, but perhaps it could be a price increase following a natural disaster that is at least 10 percent greater than the average rate of price increases on the product over the last two years.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:11 PM

You gouger! It should only be five percent!

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Say you have 10 bottles of water and 10 people.

Who does that water belong to? One of the ten people? Are you going to force him to share his water with the rest of you? If you do, how will you compensate him?

Merchants sell their stuff at the product’s replacement cost plus overhead and profit. If you force a merchant to sell the products at the old, lower pre-shortage price, he can’t afford to purchase replacements. Then he’s out of business.

That’s basic business.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Free markets are base on supply and demand. When the supply drops, and demand increases – prices go up. Who’d a thunk it. Is raising taxes on a select few ‘gouging’?

mouell on November 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

In Teatermerica 2012….”PROFIT” is the new “n-word”.

PappyD61 on November 10, 2012 at 5:14 PM

One of the most perversely stupid statements I’ve ever seen. History affords countless examples of the free market not working “smoothly,” not correcting itself, not giving people what they need, not even creating profits. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

bifidis on November 10, 2012 at 4:57 PM

I find I no longer even care to argue with people like you. You have, in my opinion, a very weird and insane world view. This disaster is going on in two blue states and is being handled very badly from all accounts (at least the ones that make it to the public view). I just read a story about how the NYC public employees are keeping all the free gas that is supposed to go to emergency workers for themselves, because, hey, free gas. So please spare us the illusion that people like you care a fig what happens to anyone. You are all about getting and keeping as much free stuff for yourselves as possible, needy people be damned.

Night Owl on November 10, 2012 at 5:14 PM

bifidis on November 10, 2012 at 4:57 PM

It works better than any system you, or any other progressive parasite, could devise, you numbskull.

Thomas More on November 10, 2012 at 5:14 PM

$5.50 for gas, big deal, half this nation and the current administration eagerly condone $7 or $8 a gallon.

Bishop on November 10, 2012 at 5:15 PM

So excessive taxing by these same politicians is not gouging?

pat on November 10, 2012 at 5:15 PM

One of the most perversely stupid statements I’ve ever seen. History affords countless examples of the free market not working “smoothly,” not correcting itself, not giving people what they need, not even creating profits. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

bifidis on November 10, 2012 at 4:57 PM

No, actually, below is a perversely stupid statement that you ran away from last evening when challenged to explain and defend. Coward. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

You were an expert on underground mining economics and coal markets last night. Now an expert on the free market tonight. So, please feel free to defend BOTH comments.


Edward Murray is a coward, like so many GOP corporate activists. Blaming Obama makes it real easy to avert taking responsibility for his own shitty business practices.

bifidis on November 9, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Yoop on November 10, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Who does that water belong to? One of the ten people? Are you going to force him to share his water with the rest of you? If you do, how will you compensate him?

Merchants sell their stuff at the product’s replacement cost plus overhead and profit. If you force a merchant to sell the products at the old, lower pre-shortage price, he can’t afford to purchase replacements. Then he’s out of business.

That’s basic business.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Suppose the water belongs to a merchant, otherwise unthreatened. And yes, merchants sell at replacement cost plus overhead and profit. The issue is that merchants have the ability to jack up prices enormously in a remarkably short short-term while their input costs don’t rise. They pocket the rest as additional profit because they are profit-maximizing entities. And in emergency situations, that’s a problem.

Red_herring put it best:

While there’s no doubt that price gouging creates “economic efficiency” in the real world the rich are not affected whereas the poor must sacrifice. People don’t care if there’s efficiency if these are the results.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Stoic Patriot on November 10, 2012 at 5:17 PM

We need to hurry up and field food replicators and transporters.

Just think…we could eliminate the Dept. of Ag and the DOT, saving trillions over 10 years.

BobMbx on November 10, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Ah, good – we are still living out Atlas Shrugged.

CorporatePiggy on November 10, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Economics 101. Damned shame people don’t have to pass a basic econ course before being allowed to vote.

glockomatic on November 10, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Or hold office.

Noelie on November 10, 2012 at 5:19 PM

I’m sure this definition will be lacking since I’m forming it off the top of my head, but perhaps it could be a price increase following a natural disaster that is at least 10 percent greater than the average rate of price increases on the product over the last two years.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Wonderful arbitrary rule of thumb comrade. Price fluctuation based on long-term market trends that do not factor in current market conditions! By that standard, home buyers are gouging most homeowners because of how much under purchase price the sellers are being forced to accept for their homes.

You have unintentionally pointed out what is wrong when government decides it can determine what is price gouging and what is not.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:19 PM

And what about the people who really need the hotel room but can’t afford the lower rates either?

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

What about them? Force private hotels to put them up for free, what, what more do you want from us?

Bishop on November 10, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Been there. Slept in my car.

Lucky you. I didn’t have a car to sleep in.

You are trying to make taxpayer-funded motel rooms into an entitlement.

Not me. I was pointing out the logical fallacy in the original comment. If there are shelters (as there should be in disaster situations) then the rich can spend their money on hotel rooms while other people can stay in the shelters.

The government has just as much (or as little) right to impose price controls on hotels as it does telling you that you have to take people into your home temporarily.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

We need to hurry up and field food replicators and transporters.

Just think…we could eliminate the Dept. of Ag and the DOT, saving trillions over 10 years.

BobMbx on November 10, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Well, the rat-eared wonder has a whole new set of bundlers to his campaign that, I am sure, are lining up to set up bogus companies to accept federal funding for such initiatives. With just as much promise as the green technology the bastard pushed to reward 2008′s cronies.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Which brings us back to wealth redistribution and not economic priniciples. Cicero is right, you are a commie.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Any governmental support in the wake of a natural disaster is wealth redistribution. I’m guessing you support at least some efforts, so I guess you are a commie too. Commie.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Any governmental support in the wake of a natural disaster is wealth redistribution. I’m guessing you support at least some efforts, so I guess you are a commie too. Commie.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

You lack any rational component. Nothing you project has any weight. You are a moral and intellectual reprobate. Hell is waiting for you.

tom daschle concerned on November 10, 2012 at 5:23 PM

it jt seems like a nonsensical system to allocate the hardship that accompanies a natural disaster. I don’t see by logical reason the poor should bare the greatest burden from a storm. Perhaps you do?

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

You’ve got it backward.
If you want to help the poor, go give them those goods for free. Capping prices only reduces the amount of goods flowing into the disaster zone.

Count to 10 on November 10, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Any governmental support in the wake of a natural disaster is wealth redistribution. I’m guessing you support at least some efforts, so I guess you are a commie too. Commie.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

http://video.foxnews.com/v/1960813149001/

What I want to know, Are those truck drivers union?!?

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:24 PM

A good statewide New Jersey gasoline panic might correct that myopia, at least for a while.

It won’t. This kind of demagoguery is baked into democracy. Which is another reason why the Founding Fathers hated democracy.

tom on November 10, 2012 at 5:25 PM

And what about the people who really need the hotel room but can’t afford the lower rates either?

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Prepare ahead with an emergency kits, up this point even the “poor” in America have had cell phones, tv’s, microwaves and host of other luxuries telling me that they could also have saved to have a tent.. sleeping bags food and water tucked away for an emergency..

That they or you don’t choose to is no one else’s fault and not the gouged business owners in America that are now expected to buckle under our now going to be impossible to live with lefties who can’t wait to be the ones to truly “price Gouge” people out of their lives and businesses.

Thanks for nothing. All I can says is please reps.. vote PRESENT…let people like this take the full brunt of the you know what kinda pie is coming. (think “The Help”)

Noelie on November 10, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Any governmental support in the wake of a natural disaster is wealth redistribution. I’m guessing you support at least some efforts, so I guess you are a commie too. Commie.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Now you are just being defensive. Yes, we what we pay in taxes is a form of wealth redistribution but that isn’t what we are talking about here. We’ve agreed through our legislatures and Congress to fund certain things like FEMA. To equate that with dictating market prices is not only absurd it is pure sophistry.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Capping prices only reduces the amount of goods flowing into the disaster zone.

Whereas the free market allocates resources to where demand is highest. It is really quite efficient. But it is also heartless.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Stoic Patriot on November 10, 2012 at 5:17 PM

With comments like that you betray the name ‘Stoic.”

sto·ic/ˈstō-ik/
Noun:
A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:30 PM

ny governmental support in the wake of a natural disaster is wealth redistribution. I’m guessing you support at least some efforts, so I guess you are a commie too. Commie.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

You know YOU are the commie as he said. When you don’t teach people that they can be self-sufficient even in tough times YOU enslave them. Your points are truly moot, because either you prepare and are self-sufficient or you ask for big brother to take over.

I chose to think your neediness is pathetic and your arguments pure strawmen bull seeing as to this point the “poor” in america manage to have cell phones, tv’s vcrs and other luxuries that now they expect others to pay for…see the cell phones and internet demands if you aren’t sure what I am talking about. If they can buy those things they can be taught to store emergency essentials. but heaven forbid we do without Big brother to save us.. right commie?

Noelie on November 10, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Any governmental support in the wake of a natural disaster is wealth redistribution. I’m guessing you support at least some efforts, so I guess you are a commie too. Commie.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

All that shows is that efforts like these are very apparently better handled by private charity. Before the storm was even over, Franklin Graham had trucks loaded with building supplies and volunteers in Delaware waiting to get in there and help. FEMA is just a bunch of government bureaucrats who really couldn’t care less about the actual people, only that they justify their existence and the confiscation of our tax money. It is obvious that the government is pathetic when responding to a crisis.

Night Owl on November 10, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Lucky you. I didn’t have a car to sleep in.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Lucky? I felt blessed. And I didn’t cry to the government that Motel 6 didn’t leave the light on.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:32 PM

FEMA is just a bunch of government bureaucrats who really couldn’t care less about the actual people, only that they justify their existence and the confiscation of our tax money. It is obvious that the government is pathetic when responding to a crisis.

Night Owl on November 10, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Exactly.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:33 PM

As I explained a few times while commenting to earlier posts, price gouging (otherwise known as profiteering) might be near and dear to the free market lovers’ heart but it has some rather nasty consequences from government’s point of view. If worse comes to worst, once can do without gas, candles, batteries, or other emergency supplies – but what if your child has diabetes and the price of insulin just rose 100x due to a drastic shortage? From my experience, if you have anything that passes for a heart you’ll grab a rifle, point it at the trader, and tell him in very colorful terms why he’s giving you a deep discount right now. The government is not interested in too many people asking for this kind of discount, hence the existence of profiteering laws.

Archivarix on November 10, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Capping prices only reduces the amount of goods flowing into the disaster zone.

Glenn Beck and those who listen and support his efforts has sent thousands of food items and things those need to churches who distribute the goods to the needy. NO need for big bro, the people take care of those in need if they want to by giving. Just like we use to do before everyone needed big bro for everything but cleaning their hind end for them!
L

letget on November 10, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Thanks for nothing.

Don’t thank me. Don’t blame me either. There is nothing written between the lines of my question.

The correct answer after a disaster is not to rush out and slap price controls on businesses. The answer is for the government to provide emergency aid (food, water, shelter and medical attention) to those people who need it until normal conditions can be restored.

If the government takes any property (private or personal) to use in an emergency the 5th Amendment requires that the owner receive fair value in compensation. And the rule of law is that the free market determines fair value (“The value of a thing is what the thing will bring.”

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:37 PM

$5.50 for gas, big deal, half this nation and the current administration eagerly condone $7 or $8 a gallon.

Bishop on November 10, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Gas in New York is about #3.78. They think adding a buck seventy-five is gouging?

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:40 PM

The answer is for the government to provide … .

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:37 PM

There’s your problem.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:41 PM

but what if your child has diabetes and the price of insulin just rose 100x due to a drastic shortage?

And exactly how will price controls affect the shortage? How should we allocate vital supplies when there is a shortage?

Which is better for society, the rich guy buying the insulin for his diabetic kid, or you stealing it at gunpoint for yours? Either way, only one kid gets the insulin.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:42 PM

If the government takes any property (private or personal) to use in an emergency the 5th Amendment requires that the owner receive fair value in compensation. And the rule of law is that the free market determines fair value (“The value of a thing is what the thing will bring.”

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Do you have a beef with antitrust law? It is as clear an example of the government’s interference with economic processes as it gets, and yet most conservatives are fine with it. I wonder why.

Archivarix on November 10, 2012 at 5:42 PM

And exactly how will price controls affect the shortage? How should we allocate vital supplies when there is a shortage?

Which is better for society, the rich guy buying the insulin for his diabetic kid, or you stealing it at gunpoint for yours? Either way, only one kid gets the insulin.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:42 PM

False argument. Who said there’s only enough for one kid? Perhaps the merchant just decided to make a quick buck. Fact is, and a well-proven one, that profiteering inevitably leads to violent crime. Nobody messes with the government’s monopoly on violence. :)

Archivarix on November 10, 2012 at 5:45 PM

I don’t see by logical reason the poor should bare the greatest burden from a storm. Perhaps you do?

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Maybe that should be an incentive to not be poor.

BobMbx on November 10, 2012 at 5:45 PM

There’s your problem.

So you would have the government do nothing?

I bet you will sing a different tune if you are ever the victim of a natural disaster.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:46 PM

but what if your child has diabetes and the price of insulin just rose 100x due to a drastic shortage? From my experience, if you have anything that passes for a heart you’ll grab a rifle, point it at the trader, and tell him in very colorful terms why he’s giving you a deep discount right now. The government is not interested in too many people asking for this kind of discount, hence the existence of profiteering laws.

Archivarix on November 10, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Oh, yeah. Anarchy always solves the problem. (Not to mention your stawman argument.)

People need to learn the meaning of contingency plans.

People had days to prepare.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:46 PM

And I didn’t cry to the government that Motel 6 didn’t leave the light on.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:32 PM

I had to stay in one of those places once while traveling through OK (relocating with a dog back when things were less pet-friendly). I should have slept in the car. First bad sign was when the television remote was chained to the endtable. Next bad sign was when I realized that it was Friday night and all the cowboys living out on the surrounding ranches had come in for the night.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

With comments like that you betray the name ‘Stoic.”

sto·ic/ˈstō-ik/
Noun:
A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Actually, my name alludes to the philosophy of stoicism as articulated by the ancient Greeks. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with never complaining. Rather, stoicism teaches one to accept the things one cannot change, as well as to approach matters with apatheia (not apathy, but a Greek term referring to a logical style of thinking). Stoicism also served as the basis upon which natural law got its intellectual foundation.

Here, we are talking about laws and policies, which are eminently changeable.

Stoic Patriot on November 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

that profiteering inevitably leads to violent crime. Nobody messes with the government’s monopoly on violence. :)

Archivarix on November 10, 2012 at 5:45 PM

So if I want to charge a dollar for a ten cent item and someone shoots me, it’s my fault. OK.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Perhaps the merchant just decided to make a quick buck.

You said there was a “drastic shortage”. That means there isn’t enough to go around. Somebody will have to do without.

How will imposing price controls end the shortage?

Fact is, and a well-proven one, that profiteering inevitably leads to violent crime.

Really? Prove it.

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:49 PM

You lack any rational component. Nothing you project has any weight. You are a moral and intellectual reprobate. Hell is waiting for you.

tom daschle concerned on November 10, 2012 at 5:23 PM

having grown up in the north I welcome the heat.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Do you have a beef with antitrust law?

WTF?

Is English not your primary language?

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:52 PM

stoicism teaches one to accept the things one cannot change, as well as to approach matters with apatheia (not apathy, but a Greek term referring to a logical style of thinking). Stoicism also served as the basis upon which natural law got its intellectual foundation.

Stoic Patriot on November 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Well defined. But I fear that any real change in today’s circumstances are going to be less through the ballot box than armed insurrection and violence. You have over half of the population mooching off a relatively few and are demanding more and more which the Dems are more than happy to claim they can deliver. This is a course where the correction throughout history is rarely with policy change.

In short the Moochers are making the claim that you can take their Obamaphone when you pry it out of their cold-dead-hand. They don’t care that somebody else is paying for it they see it as an entitlement not a helping hand. And that’s where things went wrong- when welfare in all its forms went from shameful to being a lifestyle choice.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:52 PM

With comments like that you betray the name ‘Stoic.”

sto·ic/ˈstō-ik/
Noun:
A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Actually, my name alludes to the philosophy of stoicism as articulated by the ancient Greeks. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with never complaining. Rather, stoicism teaches one to accept the things one cannot change, as well as to approach matters with apatheia (not apathy, but a Greek term referring to a logical style of thinking). Stoicism also served as the basis upon which natural law got its intellectual foundation.

Here, we are talking about laws and policies, which are eminently changeable.

Stoic Patriot on November 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

A Stoic of virtue, by contrast, would amend his will to suit the world and remain, in the words of Epictetus, “sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy,”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism

Seems to preclude complaining. But that’s just my modern thinking interfering.

: “Virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature.” Russell Bertrand

Nature screws you over–go with it.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Maybe that should be an incentive to not be poor.

BobMbx on November 10, 2012 at 5:45 PM

its this sort of sentiment that turn so many people off of the go and conservatives

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 5:56 PM

For all of you boo hooing over the poor, the free market does not hurt the poor.

There is no such thing as price gouging. Start embracing the free market and property rights instead of advocating for fascism.

Dante on November 10, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Next bad sign was when I realized that it was Friday night and all the cowboys living out on the surrounding ranches had come in for the night.

Happy Nomad on November 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Heh.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Maybe that should be an incentive to not be poor.

BobMbx on November 10, 2012 at 5:45 PM

You do realize, don’t you, that word is banned for at least the next four years?

Yoop on November 10, 2012 at 5:59 PM

“Virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature.” Russell Bertrand

Nature screws you over–go with it.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:54 PM

But I guess Bertrand wasn’t an ancient Greek.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Seems to preclude complaining. But that’s just my modern thinking interfering.

davidk on November 10, 2012 at 5:54 PM

And again you missed the point. If you are sick and cannot change that, you may as well make the best of it. If you are in peril or are dying and you can’t change those states, you might as well make the best of it.

My cat died about 9 years ago. Occasionally I miss him, but I recognize that there’s nothing I can do about it, so I don’t become fixated on it and let in envelop my life. That’s the point.

When it comes to public policy, that’s something which we can most certainly change and do so in the moment.

Stoic Patriot on November 10, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Price gouging during an emergency is good. It helps keep a few people from buying up all the rice and beans for themselves in the middle of an emergency, probably more than they need, denying other people the chance to buy any. Price gouging gives merchants the incentive to get new inventory ASAP, in the middle of the emergency, if possible when prices will still be inflated.

The responsible solution citizens can use to avoid getting gouged during an emergency is to prepare for an emergency in advance when times are good so that you don’t have to buy anything important in an emergency, and if you have some extra supplies maybe you can help your neighbors out in an emergency and even profit in the exchange. A win/win for everybody concerned except the statists in the government who want to control everything and everybody.

FloatingRock on November 10, 2012 at 6:00 PM

If the government takes any property (private or personal) to use in an emergency the 5th Amendment requires that the owner receive fair value in compensation. And the rule of law is that the free market determines fair value (“The value of a thing is what the thing will bring.”

myiq2xu on November 10, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Taking property is theft, even if the government gives itself the power to do so. In a free market, the market value is determined by the property owner and the buyer. The value is only what the two parties agree to for the voluntary exchange. There is nothing voluntary about property seizure and theft. The Constitution gets quite a bit wrong; this is one of those things.

Dante on November 10, 2012 at 6:01 PM

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