“Price Gouging” & Empowering the State
Pam Bondi has taken a strong stand against price gouging in light of Hurricane Irma.
I have offices in Tallahassee & across the state open to take calls about price gouging during this state of emergency—866-9NO-SCAM.
This is a common practice for politicians in our country as they respond to complaints from citizens of price gouging during disasters.
The surface level problem of so-called gouging is a misunderstanding of basic economics. As Thomas Sowell explained during the 2004 hurricane season (link):
When either supply or demand changes, prices change. When the law prevents this, as with Florida’s anti-price-gouging laws, that reduces the flow of resources to where they would be most in demand. At the same time, price control reduces the need for the consumer to limit his demands on existing goods and resources.
He provides the following example of how price fixing fails:
What if prices were frozen where they were before all this happened?
Those who got to the hotel first would fill up the rooms and those who got there later would be out of luck — and perhaps out of doors or out of the community. At higher prices, a family that might have rented one room for the parents and another for the children will now double up in just one room because of the “exorbitant” prices. That leaves another room for someone else.
The root of the problem with price gouging complaints, however, is a moral one. It is the belief that a good or service is owed to the consumer only at a certain price and this price must be fixed by force. To make this sort of claim, the consumer holds they have a rightful claim to someone else’s property before ever buying it.
In its most basic form, this is coveting. If laws are implemented to enforce this coveting, that is called stealing. Two of the Ten Commandments are transgressed under the excuse of an emergency. God gives no such provision for the suspension of his Laws.
So what happens to those folks who can’t afford the higher prices? Christian charity must come in to fulfill these needs. This charity can not to be supplemented by forced confiscation or price-fixing. Fear of the lack of charity is no excuse to justify coveting and stealing from our fellow man. These are the acts of a godless totalitarian state empowered by an immoral people.
– Chuck Finley