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.”
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: