The Politics of Price Gouging: It's OK for Unions, Gas Station Owners Not So Much

So it turns out that price gouging is OK in certain circumstances, even when disaster has struck. Here's the Daily Caller reporting on demands from some New York unions that out-of-state electricians who traveled to repair storm damage either join the collective or be told to take a hike:

In New York, no government official has stepped in to ensure that utility crews from other states won’t have to show their union membership cards before going to work — even though their own employers are paying for them to repair power lines in the Empire State.

Eventually, [Barry] Moline [head of the Florida Municipal Energy Association] said, his state’s crews “went everywhere else” affected by Sandy, “but it was only in New York where the union had to give their blessing.”

“It just made me sick that you’ve got people who have no power,” he said, “and you hear about a lot of people dying.”

More here.

Meanwhile, of course, keeping prices low when it comes to gas, bottled water, and the like is the order of the day throughout the metro New York area.

That seems right: Gas station owners can't raise prices, which might actually encourage more gas suppliers to make the extra effort to bring in a bigger supply. Meanwhile, the city does nothing to stop the shaking down of electricians who traveled hundreds of miles to pitch in and help because it might screw with union supremacy in a ravaged city.

Reason TV's Jim Epstein reported on how New York City's anti-gouging law is playing out at Brooklyn gas stations:

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  • ||

    If I'd traveled all the way from Alabama to assist in a disaster zone, like those guys a few days ago, and been told I had to either join a union or fuck off, I'm not sure I would have been able to maintain my cool with whatever thuggish motherfucker was giving me the ultimatum.

    We should probably move the Statue of Liberty to a better place, like, I don't know, New Hampshire, or Texas, or something, because New York's just hit it out of the ballpark with the horseshit.

  • Juice||

    Tough titties. The Alabama power companies don't own the power lines. They can choose to accept the terms of the power line owners or not.

  • Brutus||

    Fine. Shiver in the dark, fuckstick.

  • Juice||

    People who prepare for these things aren't shivering in the dark.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Way to miss the point, union suckass

  • Juice||

    What was the point? That he'd be angry? So what if he's angry? Or was it that power line owners have the right to chose who works on the power lines and who doesn't, and somehow that's an affront to liberty?

  • ||

    Hey, asshole, care to point out the part where I said it's an affront to liberty?

    And if the line's owned by the government, it is, just for your own personal record.

  • Juice||

    Hey, asshole, care to point out the part where I said it's an affront to liberty?


    You implied it by wanting to move the Statue of Liberty because unions act like assholes.

  • ||

    Yeah, because quips about relocating historical monuments are logical outgangs to retarded assumptions about the original poster's moral position, even though none was stated. Well done.

  • Juice||

    Yeah, why would anyone think that it would have anything to do with the immediately preceding sentence? Only a total dumbass would think that one sentence had anything to do with the other.

  • Enough About Palin||

    I work in senior management at a multi-billion dollar electric utility and you are full of shit. BTW, our thousands of lineman and the like are all union.

    IT'S A FUCKING EMERGENCY AND PEOPLE ARE DYING, DIPSHIT.

  • Juice||

    How am I full of shit? Res Publica insinuated that it was somehow anti-liberty for power line owners to make the rules about their power lines. Now, if you want to get into the fact that power companies like your employer are government-granted monopolies that's another matter.

  • ||

    1) I didn't insinuate shit.

    2) It's absolutely anti-liberty for power line owners to place restriction like this on their power lines if the owner is the government, or if the government selectively determines who is permitted to work on them, such as a monopoly.

    If it's a free market, and the owner wants to grant exclusivity to a single union, that's his right. He's a fucking asshole, but that's his right. Nobody's arguing that it isn't.

  • Sevo||

    Juice| 11.5.12 @ 6:10PM |#
    "How am I full of shit?"
    I dunno. You work at it? You were born that way? You tell us.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Let's all attack the heretic, that our devolution into a libertarian Kos can be complete.

  • Raston Bot||

    i didn't know the IBEW owned the power lines in NY/NJ.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    They have a contract with the owner of the power lines guaranteeing them exclusivity. So, in a roundabout way, it is the owner making the decision.

    Still unconscionable though. But I hope you don't think nothing unconscionable would ever happen in the free market libertopia.

  • Raston Bot||

    and the IBEW decided to hang themselves w/ that exclusive rope.

  • robc||

    Calling an asshole an asshole is acceptable in libertopia.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yes it is. Did you miss me saying it was unconscionable?

  • Randian||

    If the state owns the power lines, then it has no right to discriminate against people due to their labor affiliation.

    If we had a free market in power production and distribution, you would be totally right. But we don't, so you aren't.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    If the state owns the power lines it has to operate them as a reasonable private owner would.

    Unless we're going to get into arguments over whether the state can write the traffic laws for the roads that it owns.

  • ||

    No, it doesn't, because it isn't bound by the same, normal constrictions a business would be.

  • robc||

    A reasonable private owner can discriminate.

    The government cant.

  • robc||

    The state has no right to restrict the roads to union members only.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    The state does not exactly own roads. They are common easements on private property under common law. So traffic laws restricting access to and use of roads for traveling is technically bullshit.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I guess government paving and maintenance of the roads is bullshit, too?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Juice,

    Tough titties. The Alabama power companies don't own the power lines.

    Neither do the NYC unions.

    They can choose to accept the terms of the power line owners or not.

    In what country do you think you live? Those are not the terms of the power line owners, those are the terms of their hijackers - those that you would call (with a very sick and disgusting sense of humor) "unions"

  • ||

    Just like the people can accept the price of gas that the gas stations wish to charge or not. Tough tittles.

  • ||

    Jesus, Nick, this isn't hard:

    It's price gouging when evil capitalists do it.

    It's not when noble laborers do it.

    Simple tribalism.

  • MJGreen||

    In fact, it's impossible for laborers to engage in price gouging. Because that's exploitation, and laborers are the exploited.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Look for the union label.

  • Brutus||

    And take food out of the mouths of the children of Amalgamated Label Gazers Local 1032? You lookin' to get a bat across your knees, pal?

  • Juice||

    People are lining up to buy fossil fuels after the CO2-fueled super storm of the century and the government wants to keep the prices low because it's global warming, stupid.

  • Sevo||

    Juice| 11.5.12 @ 5:29PM |#
    "People are lining up to buy fossil fuels after the CO2-fueled super storm of the century and the government wants to keep the prices low because it's global warming, stupid."

    Sark or rank stupidity; you decide.

  • Juice||

    Hit and Run commenters seem to be getting dumber.

  • Sandi||

    I took a juicy shit once.

  • Sevo||

    Joe! How ya doin',you raging asshole?

  • Sandi||

    Joe was my sense. The goalpost moving was a tell.

  • The Hammer||

    Nah, just the trolls.

  • ||

    The period from 1950-1980 had over 41 hurricanes. The last 30 years have had 18. Given that CO2 levels have increased by about 12% in that time, what does this seem to imply about CO2's relation to extreme weather events? Show your work.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Huh? There have been way more than 18 hurricanes in the past 30 years. There have been more in the past 5 years, for that matter.

  • ||

    My mistake. Should be "hurricanes making landfall in the US"

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    That's dubious too. It happens way more than once every two years.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tulpa,

    That's dubious too. It happens way more than once every two years.

    What's more important is the intensity, and so far most hurricanes have been mild, contrary to what the AGW millenarists said. I don't think we'll see the return of the prophet Zarquon any time soon, either.

  • OldMexican||

    Didn't you hear? Weather is not climate! That is, except when it is. But not when it isn't.... then again...

  • Juice||

    What work? The government of NYC obviously wants its residents to burn more fossil fuels and it hates Sandy because it was caused by fossil fuels. There is no math involved here.

  • ||

    cant tell if serios

  • Sevo||

    Uh, we have a brand new, truly stupid, troll. Juice thinks that qualifies as clever sark; s/he's an AGW Malthust.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Juice,

    The government of NYC obviously wants its residents to burn more fossil fuels and it hates Sandy because it was caused by fossil fuels.

    I'm still waiting for the Seinfeldish "What's up with that?"

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Juice,

    People are lining up to buy fossil fuels after the CO2-fueled super storm of the century and the government wants to keep the prices low because it's global warming, stupid.

    I'm waiting for the puchline....

    Are you maybe going to pull a Seinfeld and finish with "what's up with that?"

  • ||

    I tihnk he's trying to say that the governmnet of New York secretly wants to create more global warming.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    This is of course unconscionable, but not a good analogy to price gouging laws.

    1. Workers having to pay union dues is the normal way of things in NYS, not some extra cash grab in view of the disaster.

    2. Gas station owners are perfectly free to close and refuse to sell any gas at the prices the state expects them to sell at, which is a better comparison to what the unions are doing here.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Aren't the unions refusing to let others sell gas?

  • Juice||

    Are the gas station owners allowing others to sell gas at their gas stations?

  • Sevo||

    Juice| 11.5.12 @ 5:43PM |#
    "Are the gas station owners allowing others to sell gas at their gas stations?"

  • Sevo||

    Juice| 11.5.12 @ 5:43PM |#
    "Hit and Run commenters seem to be getting dumber."

    You're on to something...

  • Randian||

    Are the power lines privately owned?

  • Juice||

    Is Consolidated Edison a private company? I don't know. Is it a state-granted monopoly? I'm pretty sure it is.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Juice,

    Is Consolidated Edison a private company?

    Yes.

    Is it a state-granted monopoly?

    A pleonasm to be sure, because true monopolies are all and only state-granted, but to answer your question: Yes.

    Still, who is telling the out-of-state volunteer electricians to buzz off is the NYC electricians union, not Con-Ed.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Meanwhile, the city does nothing to stop the shaking down of electricians who traveled hundreds of miles to pitch in and help because it might screw with union supremacy in a ravaged city."

    Government of the unions, for the unions, by the unions.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That should be CA new motto.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Remember a couple days ago when someone couldn't believe I was such a prick (I am) for enjoying the suffering of the Eastern (esp NYC/NJ) tards?

    Yeah - this is why. Fuck your local unions with a crowbar. I hope all the out-of-state EL's shit in your toilets and jam them up on the way out of town, you ungrateful pukes.

  • ||

    Collective guilting everyone in New York for the unions is pretty repulsively collectivist.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You can't see it
    It's collective!
    You gotta feel it
    It's collective!
    Ooh, it's shakin'
    It's collective!

  • ||

    Democracy means the government is the people. That means that every single person in New York is responsible for the actions of the government that they claim represents them.

    If you don't like it, move to a red state.

  • ||

    Yes, cause getting one vote every four years is more democratic than deciding every day, with your wallet.

    The market is more "democratic" than Democracy.

  • robc||

    Have the other residents of NY tarred and feathered the union leaders yet?

  • tagtann||

    Anyone caught price goughing should be beheaded, at once!

    www.anon-you.tk

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    anonbot is particularly tone deaf these days.

  • ||

    It would appear the punishment for price goghing is meted out swiftly.

  • RFID||

    "Price goghing"? Is the punishment chopping off your ear?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And then having a Dutch artist paint your protrait!

  • 0x90||

    And those caught price goghing should lose an ear.

  • Sevo||

    I see what you did there.

  • RFID||

    SHIT. I didn't see your post and thought I was being exceptionally clever.

  • Sevo||

    You were.
    Just a bit late...

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Me too.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The machinery of capitalism is oiled with the tears of the proletariat!

  • A Serious Man||

    FORWARD, NOT BACK!

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Anonbot,

    Anyone caught price goughing should be beheaded, at once!

    I goughed and goughed till I was rolling on the floor, goughing!

  • Brandybuck||

    Gagh me with a spoon!

  • ||

    If i am ever in a flooded neighborhood (never going to happen) and i see a shark in the water (again never going to happen) i am going to photo graph it and kill it just to prove it was not photoshopped.

  • Raston Bot||

    shark makes a great steak.

  • Number 2||

    So let's see...

    When a gasoline vender raises prices 25% during an emergency due to increased demand for a product, it is called "price gouging." But when emergency service worker or police officer raises his hourly rate during an emergency by 50% or 100% due to increased demand for his services, it is called a "fair labor standard."

    Nah...no double standard here.

  • OldMexican||

    Eventually, [Barry] Moline [head of the Florida Municipal Energy Association] said, his state's crews "went everywhere else" affected by Sandy, "but it was only in New York where the union had to give their blessing."

    "Youse gots that right! Nobodys croyses the union!"

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    check out this: http://www.thegearpage.net/boa.....?t=1164315

    The question is: Price Gouging During Disasters? and there is a poll.

    No Problem, Capitalism in a free society: 28 votes

    Total Douchebaggery: 232 votes.

    Some funny stuff in the comments.

  • Raston Bot||

    apparently it's not gouging if you incur costs immediately after the disaster and then sell 1.25X to recoup. but it's gouging if you buy well in advance and just sit on those generators waiting for 2X what you paid. b/c somehow those are two different scenarios. one's "gouging" and the other is gouging gouging.

  • Juice||

    I'll bet they all agree with Paul Krugman about disasters being good economic stimulus.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Juice,

    I'll bet they all agree with Paul Krugman about disasters being good economic stimulus.

    They're actually being more emotional douchebags than Krugman, if that's possible - the guy has cats, for crying out loud.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    the city does nothing to stop the shaking down of electricians who traveled hundreds of miles to pitch in and help because it might screw with union supremacy in a ravaged city.

    The War Against Capitalist Oppression demands eternal vigilance.

  • ||

    But Nick, unions built this country.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I wonder if there is some sort of contractual obligation to re-establish service in a timely manner, using any and all available resources.

    Because that could make for some compelling courtroom drama.

  • The Derider||

    From your source, the complete story:

    "Barry Moline, the association’s executive director, told TheDC that by Nov. 1 the union, based in the central Long Island town of Hauppauge, had relented and stopped insisting that nonunion crews pay dues and other union fees."

    So it looks like unions aren't gouging anyone, either.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider| 11.5.12 @ 8:25PM |#
    "From your source, the complete story:

    "Barry Moline, the association’s executive director, told TheDC that by Nov. 1 the union, based in the central Long Island town of Hauppauge, had relented and stopped insisting that nonunion crews pay dues and other union fees."

    So it looks like unions aren't gouging anyone, either."

    Yeah, The Dipshit; they got busted and backed off.
    Sleazy lefties would suggest that was worth something. Are you a sleazy lefty?

  • Mr Whipple||

    My understanding is, and if you ever lived in NJ you would understand, It's an insurance issue. If volunteers do not have the proper certification, they simply can't help. You can thank the lawyers. Welcome to Sue Jersey!

  • Sevo||

    "If volunteers do not have the proper certification, they simply can't help. You can thank the lawyers. Welcome to Sue Jersey!"

    Could be, but somehow, I'm going to bet the 'proper certification' has to do with a union card.
    So the first blame goes to the unions, with the lawyers providing down-field blocking.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Whose insurance?

  • Rayxchui||

    It is only price gouging if done without the approval of the state. It is ok for the state to jack up price, just look at variable toll collection. California toll roads and bridges charge more during rush hours when you need to get from A to B for work.

  • Invisible Finger||

    It's even worse that the article states.

    Friend in Chicago is an electrician, for past 4 years he's been working in upstate NY so he's in the union. We re-deployed to the coast because of Sandy. So far (5 days), all he's done is sit in his truck for 17 hours a day standing guard on a live, downed wire.

    He tells me it is a secondary line. In Illinois, he would climb the pole and release the wire at the junction box so that it poses no danger, notify the utility that the secondary line is out (which they already know) and move on to the next-priority problem. But union work rules require leaving it alone and standing guard. He has to piss in an empty 2-liter pop bottle and he has to call another crew to watch the wire for 15 minutes while he goes elsewhere to take a shit. For the hours he isn't watching the wire, he sleeps in his truck so he is basically there 24/7 doing absolutely nothing.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Oh, it's also double-time the entire time. So he's made over 10K so far just to stand guard and sleep in his truck.

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