Weather

'Price Gouging' Is Supply and Demand at Work, Even in a Polar Vortex

Price signals ultimately mean more supplies for disaster-struck areas.

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Jim West/ZUMA Press/Newscom

The so-called polar vortex has many parts of the nation in its icy grip this week, with some areas experiencing temperatures well below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Unsurprisingly, one state government is sending out a misguided warning against "price gouging."

"Michigan energy providers should heed this warning: Those who take advantage of consumers will be held accountable," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says in a statement. "A state of emergency does not make it open season on Michigan's most vulnerable residents." She particularly singles out propane providers, noting that 320,000 households in the state "use propane as their primary heating fuel."

From a legal perspective, Nessel is correct. The 1976 Michigan Consumer Protection Act prohibits companies from "charging the consumer a price that is grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold."

And her motives appear to be pure. "We don't want anyone to be taken advantage of," Nessel spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney tells WKAR. "We're not expecting companies to take advantage of residents, especially vulnerable residents, but we are saying, 'Hey, we are watching. We are listening and we are prepared to act should that occur.'"

These sorts of warnings are relatively common in times of extreme weather. Price-gouging laws went into effect in North and South Carolina last September ahead of Hurricane Florence. Prior to Hurricane Michael in October, officials in Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Georgia issues warning companies who might be tempted to charge more. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra did the same in November as wildfires ravaged parts of his state.

But these laws and warnings usually do more harm than good. When prices go up during a natural disaster or polar vortex, that's usually a sign of supply and demand at work.

Rising prices during times like these tell suppliers which goods people need the most, so they can balance the potential profits against the risks of providing those goods. As Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward put it in 2017:

Many of the folks who take on the risk of heading into an unstable area do so because they are driven by the twin motivations of fellow-feeling and greed. These people are often the fastest and most effective at getting supplies where they are most needed, because that's also where they can get the best price.

This is especially true of propane prices. While natural gas comes through a pipeline and electric heating systems are, well, electric, homes heated by propane need it to be delivered on a regular basis. In times of extreme cold, propane is in the same category of supplies as water and batteries: There's a certain amount of risk in sending out propane trucks to areas that need it. So-called "price gouging" lets propane providers measure those risks against greater possible rewards.

Higher prices are also a deterrent against hoarding, particularly in the days leading up to a disaster. To be on the safe side, many consumers are inclined to buy more than enough of whatever they think they'll need. The more expensive the propane is, the more is available for everyone else.

As Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren once said, "Price gouging—like spinach—may be unappealing at first bite but it's good for everyone in the long run."

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  1. Hey! I like spinach.

  2. If lawmakers weren’t willfully economically illiterate they wouldn’t be lawmakers.

    1. Politics 101: Ignore Economics 101.

      1. I think Comrade Sanders wrote the text for that one.

    2. In their defense, they’re stupid about pretty much everything, except getting their worthless asses elected and re-elected.

  3. What would these people say if fuel providers simply refused to roll? They’d probably go full Venezuela and seize the companies.

  4. You wanted an unregulated free market.

    That means when your very survival is threatened, the wealthy will hold you at gun point for everything you have. Supply and demand.

    It is the antithesis of civilized behaviour and the founding principle of a “free market”.

    This demonstrates most clearly the real need for regulatory oversight.

    1. Maybe police, EMS and fire departments should negotiate additional service fees when you’re being mugged, bleeding out or watching your loved ones dying in a fire.

      1. Yeah, those are totally the same thing.

      2. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 10:29AM|#
        “Maybe police, EMS and fire departments should negotiate additional service fees when you’re being mugged, bleeding out or watching your loved ones dying in a fire.”
        Maybe you should find a brain cell, shitbag

      3. They do.

        In rural areas there are things like helicopter EMS that charge a subscription fee or you can pay through the nose when you actually need it.

        1. Bullshit.

          The fee is not negotiated based on the severity of the need (demand) at the scene.

          1. The severity and urgency is why you need a helicopter ambulance instead of waiting for a rolling one.

          2. There are also subscription fire services.

            1. Don’t you realize that this article, and my comments, relate to changing fees based on need / demand which is gouging?

              The fees you keep talking about, don’t.

              Fuck, you’re stupid.

              1. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 1:52PM|#
                “Don’t you realize that this article, and my comments, relate to changing fees based on need / demand which is gouging?”
                Yes, we all realize that a lefty ignoramus is making stupid claims

                “The fees you keep talking about, don’t.”
                You can’t read.

                “Fuck, you’re stupid.”
                That’s what’s known as “projection”, you stupid shit

                1. “Don’t you realize that this article, and my comments, relate to changing fees based on need / demand which is gouging?”

                  Businessperson: “Man, I’m selling a lot of widgets. Seems to be a strong demand. Maybe I could charge more so that I can expand geographically, add a new product line, and build capital for a downturn. Oh shit! Never mind, that’d be gouging! Whew! Glad I thought of that.”

                  1. Bullshit

                    If the product was feasible at a lower price it will be feasible at higher volumes.

                    You’re just a greedy cunt.

                    1. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 4:02PM|#
                      “Bullshit
                      If the product was feasible …”
                      How is a product “feasible” or otherwise?

                      “You’re just a greedy cunt.’
                      You bet. Making money by selling products makes people greedy cunts!
                      What a fucking ignoramus

                    2. If the product was feasible at a lower price it will be feasible at higher volumes.

                      It’s not even wrong.

                    3. Of course it’s wrong. If I only have capacity to produce X then producing >X likely requires capital. Do I invest? Only if I’m assured I’m going to sell >X. Rising prices, even temporarily, indicates I should.
                      A neighbor’s brother decided to drive his plow truck from 5 states away to make some money during a local blizzard. You WANT him to be compensated, or he doesn’t make the drive!

                    4. If you’re cost per unit increases by increasing volume you’re a lousy manager.

                      If you raise prices you’re a greedy lousy manager.

                      Do you work for the government?

                    5. Rob Misek|2.1.19 @ 1:14PM|#
                      “If you’re cost per unit increases by increasing volume you’re a lousy manager.”
                      Uh, OK.

                      “If you raise prices you’re a greedy lousy manager.”
                      From the fucking ignoramus.

                      “Do you work for the government?”
                      From the fucking ignoramus.
                      You spend a LOT of time proving how stupid someone can be and still be able to operate a keyboard.

                    6. Of course it’s wrong.

                      “It’s not just not right, it’s not even wrong.” is a paraphrased idiom.

                      Somewhat analogously:

                      “On two occasions I have been asked, ? “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.” – Charles Babbage

                      His mouth and brain are able to form the syntax but the thought processes implied by the words borders on unintelligible.

                      2+2=4:Right
                      2+2=5:Wrong
                      2+2=The laws of scarcity and the free market mean socialism is the logical choice. QED.:Not even wrong.

                    7. Don’t take this the wrong way, Comrade Misek, but please go wander out in the cold and die.

            2. Where I live, there’s only volunteer fire services.

              1. Follow the thinking of these dipshits and PAYOUT or watch your family die in a fire.

                1. Rob Misek|2.1.19 @ 1:16PM|#
                  “Follow the thinking of these dipshits and PAYOUT or watch your family die in a fire.”

                  It’s the JOOZE who are after you and keep you from being rich, right?
                  Hahahahahaha!

          3. The fee is not negotiated based on the severity of the need (demand) at the scene.

            Neither is the price of goods ahead of a disaster. Its based on how many people are wanting to buy it, vs how many are on the shelf

            A more accurate comparison would be the EMS fees going up as a larger population results in greater demand for the services

            1. Bullshit

              If the lower fee was feasible at lower volumes, it would still be at higher volumes.

              1. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 4:13PM|#
                “Bullshit
                If the lower fee was feasible at lower volumes, it would still be at higher volumes.”

                Once again, logic and Misek part ways.

              2. I don’t think hard science or economics presumes the words ‘fee’ and ‘feasible’ to be related the same way you do.

                At the very least, for someone so authoritative on what does and does not constitute a free market, you don’t seem to understand supply, demand, or scarcity very well.

                1. I regard economics from first principles. Keep it simple stupid.

                  Our economy is a man made fiction, designed to achieve specific objectives, with complex contradictory rules and loopholes based on thousands of years old corrupt trading practices.

                  It’s a used disposable diaper.

                  1. Rob Misek|2.1.19 @ 7:47AM|#
                    “I regard economics from first principles. Keep it simple stupid.”
                    You’re full of shit, and here’s the proof:
                    :Our economy is a man made fiction, designed to achieve specific objectives, with complex contradictory rules and loopholes based on thousands of years old corrupt trading practices.”

                    “It’s a used disposable diaper.”
                    Quit looking in that mirror.

                  2. I regard economics from first principles. Keep it simple stupid.

                    Sure, but the first principles of economics don’t, in any way, dictate the first principles of other sciences.

      4. Maybe you should read some history, Rob. This is exactly what fire departments used to do. The fix was easy – pre-negotiate a contract where you make steady payments in exchange for emergency services. And if you didn’t, the fire department would show up then let you pay on the spot. If you didn’t (or couldn’t) pay, they’d sit and watch your house burn. Maybe sell your neighbors some preventative services to keep the fire from spreading.

        This actually was the exact origin of fire and property insurance. Look up the keyword “firemarks” if you want to learn more.

        Note that “price-gouging” has nothing to do with pre-negotiated prices. Price-gouging is only relevant to the scenario where you didn’t plan ahead. In that scenario, prices convey information – and that brings in more goods and services where they are needed most.

        1. Well thanks for reminding us all of more barbaric times.

          Or are you advocating for a return to watching your loved ones die in a fire.

          Correction, in your mind, it’s always someone else’s tragedy that you advocate.

          1. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 8:11PM|#
            “Well thanks for reminding us all of more barbaric times.”
            Well, stupid shit, thanks for proving you can’t read. Again.

            “Or are you advocating for a return to watching your loved ones die in a fire.
            Correction, in your mind, it’s always someone else’s tragedy that you advocate.”
            Well, stupid shit, thanks for proving you can’t read. Again.

      5. If there’s ever a really bad crisis (SHTF), then Police will likely be being doing just that. You want protection from the roving gangs, from us? What do you have to trade?

        1. Is that what you want?

        2. Actually, based on New Orleans, they will come and take your weapons, then leave you to the roving gangs.
          Oh, yes, and against the law, the US Army will be ‘backing them up’.

    2. It looks like you thought you had a coherent point here.

    3. Are you here to prove how idiotic one person can be? Are are you simply stupid enough to be ignorant of that also.
      Fuck off, you pathetic piece of shit.

    4. You wanted an unregulated free market.

      We don’t have an unregulated free market.

      That means when your very survival is threatened, the wealthy will hold you at gun point for everything you have.

      When has that happened? Examples, please.

      Supply and demand.

      Yes, it’s a real thing. Ignore it at your peril.

      It is the antithesis of civilized behaviour and the founding principle of a “free market”.

      At least you used scare quotes.

      This demonstrates most clearly the real need for regulatory oversight.

      Because everybody knows that government bureaucrats are more knowledgeable about businesses they have never run than people who have been in them their whole lives.

      What a maroon. Aren’t you late for the Antifa rally?

    5. Wealthy person, holding you at gunpoint: “Buy this broccoli or else I’ll take your money and throw you in a cage!”

      Oh wait, bad example. I got confused with the government saying they could force me to buy broccoli during the Obamacare hearings.

      Maybe this is a more realistic scenario: Wealthy guy overcharges. Someone sees this as a developing need for a low cost provider. This person brings a product to market. Wealthy guy either adjusts or is no longer wealthy. No guns needed in this scenario and it literally happens every single day. This is “magic” to you but fairly common sense for most of us here.

      1. “Wealthy guy overcharges. Someone sees this as a developing need for a low cost provider. This person brings a product to market. Wealthy guy either adjusts or is no longer wealthy. No guns needed in this scenario and it literally happens every single day. This is “magic” to you but fairly common sense for most of us here.”

        Naah.
        Everybody who owns whatever it is just keeps on hoarding it, ’cause Trump!

      2. Don’t you mean ambitious illegal aliens work for peanuts and you’re looking for a job?

        1. Government inflated low-skilled cost of labor. Illegal alien sees a developing need for a low cost provider. He enters the market, is hired, and is better off than being unemployed. Consumers are better off as the price of the good is lowered. Wealthy guy is better off thanks to improved margins.

          Is this what you’re getting at, Rob?

          And no, I’m not looking for a job. I’ve adjusted to the market by improving my skill set (education, experience and more production) so that I’m no longer competing against the low cost labor provider.

          1. So you’re being paid less than anyone else would accept?

            1. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 12:57PM|#
              “So you’re being paid less than anyone else would accept?”

              No, you stupid shit. Find a remedial reading class and take it.

            2. Are you purposely being obtuse?

              Great strategy on your part. Make broad, idiotic statements then deflect any counter argument into an even dumber personal attack. What difference does my job and or pay make to your moronic original post?

              1. Nope, I’m calling bullshit with evidence of logic and science.

                Calling bullshit on your statement about pay entitlement developed from an analogy we were discussing. I liked the way it concluded.

                A Mexican gardener could probably do your job better.

                1. Is that supposed to be an insult? And why does it have to be a Mexican gardener? Are you some sick nationalist or what? And why the hell does my job matter at all in this conversation?

                  If my employer felt they could get more bang for their buck by hiring someone else then they’re free to do so. If I feel like I could get more pay somewhere else then I’m free to leave. Again though, how this applies to your scientific and logical evidence is beyond me.

                2. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 4:11PM|#
                  “Nope, I’m calling bullshit with evidence of logic and science.”
                  Not possible; logic and you are not even acquainted.

                  “Calling bullshit on your statement about pay entitlement developed from an analogy we were discussing. I liked the way it concluded.”
                  And you proved it again.

                  “A Mexican gardener could probably do your job better.
                  and yet one more time.

                  1. Not possible; logic and you are not even acquainted.

                    Wherever he is, logic and science aren’t there. They’ve left a few fingerprints, a hair follicle, maybe some DNA… but I suspect that anyone he assaulted with logic and science, if they were even involved at all, will likely make a full recovery. Fortunately, for logic and science’s sake they fled the scene long ago and left him holding the bag.

                3. Nope, I’m calling bullshit with evidence of logic and science.

                  Again not even wrong.

                  Like saying you’re calling a baseball game by reading the stats, that you don’t even show a glimmer of understanding of, off a scorecard.

                  I’m going to have to remember ‘evidence of logic and science’. It’s almost like you’ve uttered the phrase “Stand Back! I’m going to use science!” in earnest.

                  1. You demonstrate no logic at all. Your hypocritical rhetoric doesn’t even deserve a response.

                    You admitted I’m not wrong. Fuck you.

                    1. Rob Misek|2.1.19 @ 6:47AM|#
                      “You demonstrate no logic at all.’
                      You are entirely too ignorant to have any way of knowing.

                      “Your hypocritical rhetoric doesn’t even deserve a response.”
                      “Hypocritical”? So the meanings of wrods are a mystery to you also.

                      “You admitted I’m not wrong. Fuck you.”
                      No body admitted anything of the sort, you stupid shit.

        2. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 12:15PM|#
          “Don’t you mean ambitious illegal aliens work for peanuts and you’re looking for a job?”

          No, you stupid shit. Find a remedial reading class and take it.

    6. The wealthy aren’t busting their ass to go load up a pickup with generators from Home Depot and drive them 500 miles to a hurricane area to be sold for cash, and potentially get arrested or robbed. You fcvkin moron

      I never understood why they don’t just charge sticker price for the generator, and add a several hundred dollar “delivery fee”. Seems like that would get around any stupid gouging laws

      1. Yeah, govnt’s smarter’n you.

        1. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 4:36PM|#
          “Yeah, govnt’s smarter’n you.”

          No, actually. In fact the gov’t is so ‘dumb’, it might possibly be dumber than you,

        2. You literally add nothing to this board. You aren’t even brash or entertaining in your wrongheadedness and stupidity, unlike some of colorful idiot charcaters

          1. Now that’s not fair.
            Misek just hasn’t yet had the chance in this thread to get into his trademark jew hating, gay bashing, or 1st amendment disparagement

      2. Because your “delivery fee” model doesn’t adjust the prices of the goods already in the disaster area. And if you can’t adjust those prices, you can’t communicate the need for the entrepreneur to make the trip in the first place. You also can’t discourage the hoarding by locals. Prices have to rise before users can respond to them.

        Okay, maybe you’ll find a few entrepreneurs who would make the trip on mere speculation. But without firm information communicated in the form of already-higher prices, a) you’ll get a lot fewer people willing to take the trip and b) the one’s who do try will have a lot less data about how many and what type of generators they should bring or how far out they can be and still break even on the trip.

  5. “And her motives appear to be pure.”

    She’s the contractor paving the road to hell?

  6. This article, demonstrates the absolute idiocy, and grand hypocrisy of neo-“Libertarians”.

    “Higher prices are also a deterrent against hoarding…”

    This statement is NOT EVEN CLOSE to being true.
    Most every pricing bust, is preceded by a pricing boom.
    Pricing booms happen mostly due to hoarding (supply & demand).

    Thus higher prices most always result directly from hoarding.

    Stock prices and and other asset prices like Bitcoin are evidence.

    The goal behind “buy low, sell high” is to game & beat the others in the system.

    One of the biggest tricks in profiteering is hoarding of assets (or resources), creating artificial scarcity, driving prices as high as possible, enticing others to do the same (looking to similarly profit from that scarcity), then sell, raising supply, causing pricing to tank (beating those others whom bought late).

    Laissez-faire, “free market” capitalist proponent Adam Smith wrote that “free markets” are not free from only government manipulations, but also free from manipulations by private interests.

    In fact, government intervention is most always a response to manipulations/interference by private interests.

    1. I suggest the “Author” of this highly-propagandist piece of garbage read “The Wealth of Nations” to gain a better understanding of true “free market” principles.

      “The last thing abandoned by a party is its phraseology, because among political parties, as elsewhere, the
      vulgar make the language, and the vulgar abandon more easily the ideas that have been instilled into it than the
      words that it has learnt.”
      -Alexis de Tocqueville-
      France Before The Consulate, Chapter I: “How the Republic was ready to accept a master”, in Memoir,
      Letters, and Remains, Vol I (1862), p. 266

    2. Laissez-faire, “free market” capitalist proponent Adam Smith wrote that “free markets” are not free from only government manipulations, but also free from manipulations by private interests.

      By “manipulations by private interests” you mean engaging in the marketplace? What do you think Sevo?

      1. Both the public and private sectors participate in the market. Labeling one sector as good and the other evil is the essence of vulgar libertarianism, which as far as I can tell is the only kind that exists anymore. Both public and private interests are capable of causing both efficient and inefficient market outcomes. Figuring out how to manage things so that efficiency is favored is why we have brains.

        1. Both the public and private sectors participate in the market. Labeling one sector as good

          1. Labeling one sector as good and the other evil is the essence of vulgar libertarianism

            Except I said no such thing. Try again.

            1. You’re right, you didn’t. The point to consider is that private actors can distort efficiency in market outcomes just as much as the public sector, and indeed one of government’s primary functions is to police the private sector so that it does not fuck things up in the market too much, the most important task perhaps being preventing monopolies and the distortions they bring.

              1. Sure, that’s true. While I wouldn’t label public sector market participation as inherently evil, due to the reasons Sevo mentioned below (the force issue), I think it’s a reasonable statement that we should minimize the public sector’s distortions as much as possible. Do you agree with that, or so you think we should have government regulation of industries just for the hell of it?

                1. I for one certainly rely on the government to pick who can and can’t braid hair for profit.

                2. Not just for the hell of it. Government’s job in this context is to protect the well-being of the public by creating the environment in which industry can operate to that end. The reason we permit for-profit enterprise is because it’s thought to be beneficial to society. Even if you value maximum business and individual freedom, you do so because you think that is the best way to maximize social good. All we talk about here are different ways to manage and arrange society. We can’t escape it.

                  1. Tony|2.1.19 @ 10:59AM|#
                    “Not just for the hell of it. Government’s job in this context is to protect the well-being of the public by creating the environment in which industry can operate to that end.”
                    Yes. Enforce the laws and contractual arrangements.

                    “The reason we permit for-profit enterprise is because it’s thought to be beneficial to society.”
                    Bullshit. We permit it because trade is a basic freedom and the government has no place in it.

                    “Even if you value maximum business and individual freedom, you do so because you think that is the best way to maximize social good.”
                    Bullshit. We do so since we have no right to interfere. The fact that it does increase the well-being of humanity is a side benefit.

                    “All we talk about here are different ways to manage and arrange society. We can’t escape it.”
                    Bullshit One of us, who always prefers thuggery, talks about ‘managing society’. The rest of us talk about allowing people to manage their own lives.

        2. Tony|1.31.19 @ 11:17AM|#
          “Both the public and private sectors participate in the market.”
          One of them by force and one by choice; I doubt anyone as stupid as you can figure out which is which.

          “Labeling one sector as good and the other evil is the essence of vulgar libertarianism,”
          Equating them is the essence of lefty imebicility.

          1. The vulgar part is when you declare the whole of the public sector to be illegitimate. Okay, so defend anarchy, since that’s the only permissible system to you. Tell me why we should all embrace total lawlessness. I’m all ears.

            1. Tony|1.31.19 @ 11:25AM|#
              “The vulgar part is when you declare the whole of the public sector to be illegitimate.”

              The stupid part is when you try to defend thuggery as equivalent to choice.
              Okay, so defend the gulag since that’s the only permissible system to you. Tell me why we should all embrace totalitarianism. I’m all ears, shitbag.

            2. Government is force. Period.
              Tell me something government does that isn’t predicated on force.
              Pay your taxes (pay for services you don’t want nor need) or else.

              It doesn’t go out of business. When it makes a mistake it just keeps on making it.

              When private businesses make mistakes they need to fix them or people stop buying their stuff.

              Governments don’t have that problem. Stop buying the things you don’t want nor need and you get locked in a cage. Corporations can’t do that.

              Government is force. The only question is where force is legitimate.

              You, Tony, say it is justified when you want something.

              Libertarians say it is justified in response to force.

              Whatevzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

              1. So is pollution force?

                1. Tony|2.1.19 @ 11:02AM|#
                  “So is pollution force?”

                  Why is purple?
                  See? We can both post idiotic comments. In my case, I have to work at it; you seem to do fine more or less automatically.

    3. philoeleutheria|1.31.19 @ 10:46AM|#
      “This article, demonstrates the absolute idiocy, and grand hypocrisy of neo-“Libertarians”.”
      This post demonstrates the imbecility of philoeleutheria
      ————————
      “Higher prices are also a deterrent against hoarding…”
      “This statement is NOT EVEN CLOSE to being true.
      Most every pricing bust, is preceded by a pricing boom.
      Pricing booms happen mostly due to hoarding (supply & demand).”

      Idiotic claim unsupported by evidence
      —————————————
      “Thus higher prices most always result directly from hoarding.”

      Which higher prices pull the hoarded goods to the market
      ———————————————-
      “Stock prices and and other asset prices like Bitcoin are evidence.”

      They are nothing of the sort
      ——————————————
      “The goal behind “buy low, sell high” is to game & beat the others in the system.”

      Only to an idiot; the goal is to accumulate wealth.

      “One of the biggest tricks in profiteering is hoarding of assets (or resources), creating artificial scarcity, driving prices as high as possible, enticing others to do the same (looking to similarly profit from that scarcity), then sell, raising supply, causing pricing to tank (beating those others whom bought late).”

      Simply, bullshit.

      Enough wasted time.
      Fuck off, slaver.

    4. I’d be willing to entertain that the velocity of money (and therefore price signals) are inadequate in times of crisis (you’d have to make the case that a known event with weeks to prepare qualifies as “crisis”). I’d be even willing to entertain that though monopolies tend to resolve on the whole, it may take too long for it to be of any use to current market participants.

      That however, in and of itself is not an argument for price controls.

      The corollary is that should the price of propane (or whatever) drop, those business should be propped up with subsidies or forced purchases to be consistent. You see the problem here.

      Initial instances of price gouging may be unconscionable and completely unfair, but those too serve as prices signals to attract more competition, investigate alternative vendors or products, or propel R&D long-term.

      Price controls are the wrong approach. Markets are dynamic.

    5. Your diatribe is utterly irrelevant because you are conflating internal market manipulations with market reactions to external circumstances. Yes, there are people who try to artificially influence markets, sometimes by trying to hoard assets. That has nothing to do with market reactions to external disasters such as hurricanes or cold snaps.

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  8. I am curious. How often does a propane tank need to be filled?

    Do you not set up a regular deliver schedule with agreed upon pricing?

    Presumably your service agreement would stipulate some sort of price protection.

    1. “How often does a propane tank need to be filled?”
      A. Depends wholly on usage.

      “Do you not set up a regular deliver schedule with agreed upon pricing?”
      A. Some do, some don’t. Some people have regular deliveries, others service upon request.
      Pricing also varies. Some have contractual-set pricing, others opt to pay fluctuating”market” prices (which are largely set & determined by the cartel whom control the industry).
      There are other scenarios too.

      “Presumably your service agreement would stipulate some sort of price protection”
      A. Not always the case.

      Careful about assuming/presuming.

      It’s similar to buying gasoline at the gas station (except some people can enter into set-pricing for a determined period).

      There are no one-answer-fits-all to your questions.
      Different companies provide different schemes.

      1. None of which supports any requirement for regulation.

      2. It would seem foolish to pay spot prices when you have only one vendor.

        And if you have three different vendors charging higher spot prices, then that would suggest short term costs have gone up.

      3. “…(which are largely set & determined by the cartel whom control the industry).”

        Cite missing.
        Pretty certain to be a lie by a lefty ignoramus.

  9. Hmmm, this article completely ignores & negates the role that utility providers play in creating & supporting government created monopolies.

    WHAT OF THE REGULATORY SIDE THAT ALLOWS UTILITIES TO WORK, VIRTUALLY FREE OF TRUE COMPETITION?

    Honest supply & demand would require the ability of ANYONE to enter that industry, taking advantage of higher prices in order to make profit, thus driving prices back down AS TRUE COMPETITION EMERGES.

    “Supply & demand” as a free-market system don’t work when one side (the supply) is controlled (suppliers are granted government protections against true competition).

    THIS IS HOW LIBERTARIANS TRULY THINK & WORK.

    THEY WANT PROTECTIONISM FOR CERTAIN ELITE, WHILE DISALLOWING PROTECTIONS FOR THOSE OTHERS ENSLAVED TO THOSE IN THE PROTECTED CLASS.

    COLLECTIVE PRICE GOUGING = GOOD.
    COLLECTIVE BARGAINING = BAD.

    1. Man there’s a whole lot of stupid in this comments section.

    2. Not enough caps to show how truly imbecilic you are.

    3. Accusing libertarians of supporting monopoly conditions via the regulatory state. We got a genius over here.

  10. Man, supplying stuff to people who need it really draws out the lefty ignoramuses.

    1. I can deliver some smart lefties here, but it’ll cost you.

      1. They’re thin on the ground, as the saying goes, and the comments here are an ample example.

  11. Many of the folks who take on the risk of heading into an unstable area do so because they are driven by the twin motivations of fellow-feeling and greed. These people are often the fastest and most effective at getting supplies where they are most needed, because that’s also where they can get the best price.

    It’s not enough that you do the right thing, you must do it for the right reasons. It’s not enough to *say* you love Big Brother, you have to mean it when you say it. In the meantime, what the hell has any politician ever done to help anybody in disaster areas besides rob Peter to pay Paul to go help and then pat himself on the back for his altruistic benevolence? Fuck you – go rent a U-Haul with your own money, load it up with water and food and first aid items you bought with your own money, drive it into the floodwaters and distribute it to those in need and then we’ll talk about your generosity. You sick fucks are perfectly willing to let people go cold and hungry and hurt if it means keeping some hard-working risk-taker from making a nickel and then you have the nerve to accuse them of being the greedy and selfish ones.

    1. An advantage of price gouging is that it supplies the people with money so that people with little or no money don’t have to share charitable supplies with the people with money.

  12. Ah, the essence of libertarian thinking. You learned about the phenomenon of supply and demand sometime in middle school, and for whatever reason you decided that it was not just an amoral phenomenon of human interaction, it was actually a moral imperative to follow. Well, let me tell you, that was a mistake. Read some more books.

    1. Never change Tony

    2. Tony|1.31.19 @ 11:14AM|#
      “Read some more books.”

      The very epitome of a lack of self-awareness.

    3. So you find it morally preferable to impose shortages of basic goods on people who desperately need basic goods. That’s literally your position and you think you have the moral high ground. This is why normies laugh at socialist dipshits like you and AOC.

    4. I am morbidly curious as to your reading suggestions. I have my Reason Drinking Game scorecard in front of me and I’m ready to go.

  13. “We’re not expecting companies to take advantage of residents, especially vulnerable residents, but we are saying, ‘Hey, we are watching. We are listening and we are prepared to act should that occur.'”

    “We’re not expecting CBS to broadcast the Super Bowl, but we are saying, ‘Hey, we are watching. We are listening and we are prepared to act should that occur.'”

  14. “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

    ? Thomas Sowell, Is Reality Optional?: And Other Essays

  15. Concert tickets are a great example of the futility of price controls. Since it can be difficult to gage the exact demand for a concert and bands are sensitive to charges of being evil and greedy, concert tickets are often priced below the natural market price. This, however, doesn’t stop the market from working and the tickets from going for whatever the market price is. If a concert ticket goes for a hundred dollars and the market price for it is two hundred dollars, the customers end up paying $200 either in the form of buying it from a scalper or in the form of paying a hundred dollars to the promoter and forgoing an additional hundred dollars by choosing to attend the concert rather than sell your ticket at the market rate. If the cost of attending a concert is the hundred dollars I paid to get it plus giving up the hundred dollars I forgoe by not selling it, I have paid $200 for the ticket whether I understand it or not.

    1. You said you saw the Stones. I think my boss went to the same show. He’s in the DC area. And he has tickets to their next show.

      I’m going to see my favorite band in Boston in a couple weeks. Totally excited. But they won’t allow me to trade or anything. Got to show ID to confirm I’m the guy who bought them online. Don’t even do paper tickets anymore. How fucked up is that? I used to put the stub into the cd case for the album the band was promoting.

      1. I am going to see them this summer. Just haven’t decided where. I will check out the band below. Thanks.

    2. You’d like this band. The drummer never solos. Metric. Look them up.

      1. Not bad.

        Yes the drummer. Do not get me started. Many great drummers do not solo much. Stuart Copeland, Max Weinberg, Charlie Watts,

        Then there is Neal Peart, Dave Grohl, and Buddy Rich

        Solos tend to appeal to the fan base.

        Buddy Rich just nailing a classic.

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pcEKAWZ1Nbk

    3. So price gouging on luxury goods is fine and dandy.

      Sounds great.

      I still don’t think someone should freeze to death because they can’t afford the “surge pricing” on their propane.

      1. EscherEnigma|1.31.19 @ 1:41PM|#
        “…I still don’t think someone should freeze to death because they can’t afford the “surge pricing” on their propane.”

        It takes a good bit of *stupid* to jump to this conclusion, and EE has that in abundance.

        1. Seriously dude, learn basic HTML and use blockquotes. They make for much more readable comments.

          1. EscherEnigma|1.31.19 @ 4:06PM|#
            “Seriously dude, learn basic HTML and use blockquotes. They make for much more readable comments.

            Seriously dude, stuff it.

  16. As long as we use the term “price-gouging”, the vast majority of people and politicians will rally against it even if the entire economic science community approves of it. The visceral/emotional reaction by most people to price-gouging aligns them immediately with dumb politicians instead of economists. That said, I don’t think changing the terminology will change many minds.

    1. “Surge Pricing”

      And yeah, there is still consternation, but it seems to have afforded them an explanation and slipped by the outrage better.

  17. Our heating service company tried to pull a fast one. Just at the start of the storm we noticed one of our gas/electric furnaces was not working. They came right out and it was a cracked heat exchanger. They got the part under warranty in a couple days and gave me an outrageous cost to install it, a three hour job. I am sure it was because of the polar vortex here. Was able to negotiate down to a less unreasonable fee because we are, were now, regular customers.

    Would have been happy to give the guy who came out something extra for coming on such a bad day and making another stop. This was not good faith so looking for a new company.

  18. KOCH INDUSTRIES (owned & controlled by the Koch brothers, which was essentially a “hand-me-down” by their ultra-wealthy father, whom benefited financially from crony-capitalist policies), is one of the largest “donors” (financial supporters) of the Reason Foundation, owners of reason.com.

    Koch industries is heavily invested/involved in the energy sector (via Flint Hills Resources LP, Koch Ag & Energy Solutions, Koch Chemical Technology Group, Koch-Glitsch, Koch Minerals, Koch Pipeline Company LP, Koch Supply & Trading, and others), including natural gas, propane, & fertilizers (mostly a gas/refining byproduct).

    NOTICE A CONNECTION TO THIS “ARTICLE” calling for more profits to the already extreme profiteers off crony-capitalism?

    Interestingly, Koch Industries is also heavily invested in companies like Qualcomm, which is conducting massive lobbying/pr campaigns to mandate V2X (vehicle-to-everything) highway systems…..FUNDED PRIMARILY BY PUBLIC (taxpayer) MONIES.

    “Libertarianism” is acquiring wealth via special-interest crony-capitalist policies, then using that wealth to buy politicians for even more special-interest legislation,for greater wealth, then buying media to promulgate propaganda, telling others why it’s cad to do they same as they do.

    1. philoeleutheria|1.31.19 @ 12:01PM|#
      “KOCH INDUSTRIES (owned & controlled by the Koch brothers, which was essentially a “hand-me-down” by their ultra-wealthy father, whom benefited financially from crony-capitalist policies),”
      Cite missing.

      “NOTICE A CONNECTION TO THIS “ARTICLE” calling for more profits to the already extreme profiteers off crony-capitalism?”
      Notice the lie and the irrelevance in this idiots statements?

      “”Libertarianism” is acquiring wealth via special-interest crony-capitalist policies, then using that wealth to buy politicians for even more special-interest legislation,for greater wealth, then buying media to promulgate propaganda, telling others why it’s cad to do they same as they do.”
      Stupidity is posting really transparent and idiotic lies like this

      1. Rob Misek|1.31.19 @ 12:53PM|#
        “+1”

        Stupid shit, meet stupid shit. You guys have a lot in common. You can tell each other lies all day long.

    2. The Reason comment section has offically shark-jumped.
      It is no longer possible to construct a parody account as believably imbecillic and dishonest as the actual commentariat.

      Now, Libertarianism is all about Crony Capitalism. The Koch Brothers deliver your propane tanks.
      I guess Communism is all about puts and calls on Stock Indexes

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  20. Where were these nannies during the “Assault Weapon Ban” when $25 magazines were selling for $120?

  21. Kinda reminds me of the ‘gas shortage’ in the pre-history times of the seventies.
    Oil got cut off by the OPEC guys, and the price of gasoline shot up. However, you could still drive up and buy fuel without any great wait.
    Then the helpful federal government cried out “crisis!” and implemented price controls. The next day gas was cheaper, but the lines were around the block.
    “Hi. We’re from the federal government, and we are here to help you”.

    Which is better, available products at high prices, or low prices on empty shelves?
    Don’t bother to answer, the government has answered for you, because you are too stupid to know what you want.

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