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Free Minds & Free Markets

Prices Should Rise During Crises Like Hurricane Harvey

It's not price gouging.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is upset about "price gouging" during hurricane Harvey. Some stores raised prices to $99 for a case of bottled water—$5 for a gallon of gas. "These are things you can't do in Texas," he says. "There are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this."

There sure are: $20,000 per "gouge"—$200,000 if the "victim" is a senior citizen.

Texas, a state that I thought understood capitalism, punishes people who practice it.

Prices should rise during emergencies. Price changes save lives. That's because prices aren't just money—they are information.

Price changes tell suppliers what their customers want most, maybe chainsaws more than blankets, water more than flashlights.

"Quit your witch hunt," economist Don Boudreaux wrote Paxton. "Government intervention is often justified as a means of correcting 'market failure.' But by enforcing prohibitions on 'price gouging' your office causes market failure."

Boudreaux is right.

Suppose a disaster devastates your town, and your local store is not allowed to raise the price of bottled water. People rush to buy all the water they can get. The store sells out. Only the first customers get what they need.

The storeowner has no incentive to risk life and limb restocking his store. He wants to get to safety, too. So he closes his store.

But if the owner can charge $99 for a case of water, you will buy less water, and other customers get what they need. More importantly, entrepreneurs have an incentive to move heaven and earth to bring water to the disaster area. They soon do, and the price drops again.

That's economics—supply and demand. It works pretty well.

Politicians often try to outlaw that. When Uber appeared and used "surge pricing" during busy times, my dumb mayor tried to ban Uber. The ban didn't stick, fortunately. Seeing people pay higher prices inspires more Uber drivers to leave home to offer people rides, and it causes customers to try other alternatives at busy times. When prices float, there are no shortages.

Since Texas' attorney general doesn't seem to understand that, Boudreaux tries to educate him:

"By forcibly keeping 'legal' prices lower than their actual market values, you not only encourage black markets ... you obstruct the information and incentives that are necessary both to encourage consumers to use those goods more sparingly and to encourage suppliers from around the world to rush to the devastated areas."

People will denounce capitalist greed after the next disaster, too, but there's nothing kind about pretending that bottled water and other valuable goods will be available if sellers are forbidden to raise prices when supplies are short.

I'd think reporters on CNBC, a business-oriented network, would understand economics, but they're as clueless as Texas' attorney general.

Not only did CNBC parrot his comments about "gouging," they then claimed, "Devastating storm may actually boost U.S. GDP."

Paul Krugman made the same foolish error after 9/11's terrorism. He wrote that the attack might "do some economic good."

Photo Credit: Michael Stravato/Polaris/Newscom

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  • IsReasonReasonable||

    John Stossel is your worst writer. His articles are so easy to debunk. It feels like he ended every paragraph with an exclamation point and some poor editor had to whittle away at his erection. Here is the key portion of this article (and I don't totally disagree with him; I just think his arguments are weak):

    "Suppose a disaster devastates your town, and your local store is not allowed to raise the price of bottled water. People rush to buy all the water they can get. The store sells out. Only the first customers get what they need.

    The storeowner has no incentive to risk life and limb restocking his store. He wants to get to safety, too. So he closes his store.

    But if the owner can charge $99 for a case of water, you will buy less water, and other customers get what they need. More importantly, entrepreneurs have an incentive to move heaven and earth to bring water to the disaster area. They soon do, and the price drops again."

    First off, he writes, "Only the first customers get what they need." Now, if price gouging is allowed, the sentence would read, "Only the wealthy customers get what they need." That's why the "person on the street" finds price gouging distasteful.

  • techgump||

    So only wealthy people can afford to buy $99 bottled water during a crisis? Damn, I must be rich! Truth is, Stossel nailed it. I may not like paying $99 for water, but it's going to keep me from only buying what I absolutely need, same goes for others, and indeed is incentive for store owners to take the risk.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    Did you pay $99 for a flat of bottled water? What is your annual income?

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Have you ever actually done something hypothetical before? What's your hat size?

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    Did you pay $99 for a flat of bottled water? What is your annual income?

  • techgump||

    I make 70K before taxes; California. I'm not rich, but I, like most anyone, can afford $99 for a basic need like water during a crisis should I have to. But I likely wouldn't have to pay $99 for a flat of water during a crisis becuase I actually prepare... something most anyone can do, and I was taught to do and have done since becoming an adult. I have flats of water in my garage, and 2 gallons in my car as I type. But if you chose not to prepare, don't complain about others who are still willing to sell you something, mind you at cost of tending to thier own during crisis, that you need due to your lack of forethought or care.
    At the end of the day, most people have nobody to blame but themselves. Buying homes in flood lands is a terrible choice to begin with. Not having a stash of water in your home and car are even worse choices; easily remedied. I like that those who haven't even thought to prepare with the basics for themselves blame others for being willing to depart with theirs during a crisis. You're a victim, no doubt!

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    Prepared....for what? We should all keep stashes of water and....what else....in our homes and cars at all times? What about food? Toilet paper? Medicine? I live in Dallas, and have lived on the East Coast. I've never kept water in my garage or vehicle, ever. And I've never needed it. So if I go out today and needlessly stash water in my garage and my car, and all of the sudden after 50 years I need it, I can laugh and cackle at all the poor scum who are desperately in need of water but failed to obsessively hoard and stash water for 50 years? Really? This is your argument for price gouging? I hope to fuck that one day you need the one thing you forgot to hoard, and I have that thing, and I can offer it to you so that your child or dog doesn't die. I will do it willingly, and I won't even let loose one evil, libertarian cackle.

    But yes, yes, I'm a victim, for sure! So victimized. I make about 3 times more than you and I live in Texas, which means I make 10 times more than you. Why do you live in California? That's a terrible decision. It's terribly expensive and dangerous out there. If you were a reasonable, rational person you would move elsewhere. It's cheaper, it's safer, it's rational. If something catastrophic happens in California I sure hope your hoarded water saves you. Because who else will?

  • techgump||

    "Prepared....for what?"
    I dunno... I flood in flood plains? Hmmm.

    "What else....in our homes and cars at all times? What about food? Toilet paper? Medicine?"
    Um, yes, exactly. You must be trolling.

    "I've never kept water in my garage or vehicle, ever. And I've never needed it."
    Well, there you have it. I wear my seat belt everyday, and I too have never needed it. I've really got nothing else to say here to you. You seem quite stupid, or are trolling. I can't tell and don't care.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    Really, you have a car full of water, toilet paper and medicine? Are you shitting me? I'm actually not stupid at all and am not trolling at all.

    I'm curious, how do you stockpile medicine? Those things are doled out by doctors and pharmacies based on a time-limited supply.

    So basically, you are a prepper. And anyone who isn't a prepper is a moron who deserves what they get. I hope no one in your life ever has cancer (requiring chemotherapy), diabetes (requiring insulin), kidney failure (requiring dialysis). You can't stockpile those things in your garage.

    How long can you live off your stockpiles? You know there is someone who can live one day, one week, one month, one year longer than you. And they think you are fucking moron victim because you only prepare for X. THEY prepared for Y! They are superior to you, you fucking victim.

  • techgump||

    "If something catastrophic happens in California I sure hope your hoarded water saves you. Because who else will?"
    Oh, one last bite. The person who will save me is the guy whose still willing to sell me water at a higher price, rather than the guy who sold some to the first comers at fixed prices, saved the rest for himself, and went home. You, on the contrary, offer nothing.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    Actually, I offer this: I can afford a higher price than you. So if you come offering $99, I will offer $100. If you offer $101, I will offer $102. I offer a superior market valuation and a bigger savings and investment account. I will outbid you and you will die. Sorry. That's the most efficient distribution of resources. In fact, since I make more money than you and have more in investments and savings, I don't have to prepare at all. I can be a totally unprepared VICTIM. But I can outprice you. So enjoy your water from your trunk. When it runs out I will still be buying water from the price gougers.

  • Jerryskids||

    Trolls don't generally prepare such thorough arguments so I'm going to assume you're a retard. You do realize that money is a store of value, right? Yeah, you're not a prepper, you just have a stash of money that you can exchange for food and water and medicine if the need arises.

    You don't have to have a big stash of all the basic necessities of life all the time - but if you live in an area that frequently has hurricanes or tornados or blizzards, you should maybe pay attention to the weather forecast and go out ahead of time and lay in a little extra when bad weather threatens. Maybe be aware that bad weather frequently knocks out the power and if you're going to need heat and lights and refrigeration you might want to invest in a generator and a fuel supply.

  • RenaD||

    Exactly, Jerryskids.

    I live in an area under constant threat of forest fires in summer, so my family and I have a plan for what to do if a fire breaks out close to home. IRR seems to think that people who remain prepared for potential disaster are some kind of backwoods paranoids. Nope. Just, well, prepared. It's pretty simple.

    As for the price gouging. What the hell do you think people who go in and gobble up all the cheap bottles of water are going to do with them? That's right . . . sell them for double themselves when the going gets rough.

    People like IRR seem to think there are ways to 100 percent mitigate the effects of disasters and it just isn't true.

  • Jett Rucker||

    Being prepared is not necessarily simple. You not only need to be foresighted and willing and able to act on your foresight, but you actually have to MAINTAIN preparedness.

    Example (I live in South Florida): I have a weenie little generator (5KW) that runs four lightbulbs, my refrigerator plus my television/radio. It runs on gasoline. EVERY YEAR I replace the gasoline (15 gallons in jerry cans) and add preservative to the gas. I actually fire up the generator to make sure it generates, EVERY YEAR. I've done this the past TEN years without needing it once for a hurricane or other extended power outage.

    A lot of work, in total. But it looks like I'm going to need it tomorrow, September 10, 2017. I hope I don't run out of gas before the power comes back on, though. I did in 2005. Nasty.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Probably not a troll, and maybe not a retard, but certainly a sheeple that expects someone else (government?) to provide when things go south. And at least wants someone (government?) to interfere with the value/price of goods when conditions impact the utiltiy of his ten-fold wealth.

  • Sevo||

    If not a retard, an imbecile.
    Does he expect all that water to get moved to the disaster area if no one pays the bill for the shipping?

  • some guy||

    Exactly. Water's heavy. Moving it across country is expensive, especially if you're moving it into a flooded disaster zone. Why would anyone do that if they weren't allowed to raise the price?

    Oh, right. Charities

  • Eric||

    May I offer some advice:

    #1 - Calling this guy a retard or imbecile or troll accomplishes what? If you want an echo chamber where you don't have to be bothered with differing opinions then go join the circle jerkers at glibertarian.

    #2 - This is exactly the kind of real world issue that libertarians are going to have to find a way to engage the other 95% of the population that recoils in horror when the free market produces painful outcomes.

    #3 - Point to real world examples of market failures due to government interference in a crisis. Otherwise it's just philosophy.

    #4 - Almost nobody starts out as a libertarian. It's a path taken when people take notice of the corruption, cronyism, and inefficiencies produced by the governement. This is a great opportunity to engage someone else (as some have done) and possibly plant a seed of doubt in their mind.

  • BYODB||

    FACT:

    If you're forced to sell a product at far below market rate far less of it is shipped and sold ergo there is less water for everyone.

    What people are saying is damn rationality and damn consequences, if they can't get cheap water than fuck everyone else who can afford the price.

    That said, these sellers would be wise to close their doors and go home and sell nothing at all because the type of people who find the above logic compelling are the people who are going to bust your doors in and take what they want during a disaster.

    Market forces can not be denied. If the price is set at a floor like this, no one will offer. That's just how it is, and the type of people who are against logic, reason, and nature are basically just upset that the universe isn't fair which would seem to be obvious since nature just knocked your house over.

    I'm a Texan, and I have no idea who this Ken guy is nor do I particularly care. There are reasons we have organizations and charities, such as Red Cross, and it's to provide for the people who are hurt by disasters but might not be able to afford a $99 case of water.

    And, for what it's worth, if you know a Hurricane is going to hit your house why didn't you prepare? It's hard to have a lot of sympathy for the type of person that doesn't prepare at all then expects 'the community' to do everything for them. It's the literal story of the grasshopper and the ant.

  • BYODB||

    And, as a follow up, the very same people bitching about the price of water will be the same people bitching that not enough water was for sale in the area should they get their way.

    I don't want to kick a group while they're down, so I'll just say that demanding charity is rarely wise.

  • JFree||

    There are reasons we have organizations and charities, such as Red Cross, and it's to provide for the people who are hurt by disasters but might not be able to afford a $99 case of water.

    That's not the reason at all. Price signals work very well in getting logistics chains started/changed/diverted - but that doesn't mean they can deliver the needed volume in time in those disaster conditions. The point of charities and govt stockpiles (which we don't do anymore cuz we don't do commodity-backed money) is that they have prepositioned either stocks or distribution outlets specifically for disaster conditions where the normal supply chain is disrupted/broken.

    If we still did govt stockpiles - then 'disasters' (ie where actual volume is disrupted and where prices signal that disruption) would actually be the way that stockpile is monetized at the margin and where 'seed' volume (to prime the restoration of a market) is supplied to new outlets in the affected area.

  • timbo||

    Point three is obviously Venezuela. They are in the throes of failed price controls and currency manipulation and they have been in crisis for 3 years almost.
    The hard part is getting people to fathom that destruction on a shorter timescale relating to Houston. The best way to understand that will be in the next few days when cheap prices will have resulted in shortages. Also has shortages when pipelines are damaged and price gouging is banned like in GA last year. I saw that first hand. The problem is that so many people are uneducated about the first iota of free markets.

  • BYODB||

    People associate 'free markets' with the 'Robber Baron's' of almost 100 years ago even to this day, which is somewhat ironic since even C.S. Lewis pointed out the Robber Baron's were preferable to the Progressive alternative.


    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals."

    C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock

  • Jett Rucker||

    You speak of education, and that could be a factor, but you know what? Understanding the workings of (freed) prices in this situation is ACTUALLY no more than extended common sense. I happen to be heavily educated, so I can't be sure, but I THINK that if I had no education, I'd STILL figure this out correctly simply by assuming the position of a merchant/supplier (which I would do).

    However, this "common sense" I'm claiming for myself DOES seem to be in very short supply among the great majority of other people. It's what gives rise to my endearing superiority complex.

    I'm more-inclined to say, some people have it, and others (most) don't.

  • MarkLastname||

    Given the arrogance and contempt with which the OP attempted to make his point, he doesn't exactly earn a charitable reaction.

  • Tyler R||

    Very well said. If you're actually interested in explaining why free markets are the best option, don't try to explain why markets are perfect, rather why price controls fail. Something along the lines that there's no good option during a crisis when supplies are scarce- either prices will go way up, or we can make laws to fix the price, and supplies will run out almost instantly (hurricane Sandy, Katrina, etc). I'd prefer expensive water to no water at all.

  • ||

    #2. "...the pop. that recoils in horror when the free market produces painful outcomes."?? The evidence is clear to all who will look. No market transactions involve the initiation of force, threat thereof, or fraud, i.e., all are voluntary. Pain has nothing to do with the transaction, except maybe to lessen it.
    #3. Price fixing and threats of penalties by govt. create less goods/services when needed most. How does one "point to" goods/services that were not provided becasue of govt.? THEY DON'T EXIST!
    #1. Good point.
    #4. Probably 99% are brainwashed from childhood in collectivism/statism. They are political zombies who must chose to begin the long journey to psychological freedom. It begins with them.

  • Karl B.||

    I've lived in a disaster area. Not nearly as bad as Houston, but our city lost power for a week due to some tornadoes. Charities wait until it's "safe" and they won't get in the way of first responders. It takes 2-3 days to get limited supplies from charities, and you have limited ability to travel and communicate so it's really difficult to find out where they are and get to them. They don't distribute water at every corner convenience store.

    For us, by the time supplies were ample and easy to find, we were past the worst of it. They were giving away extra so they didn't have to haul it back, and people were stocking up just in case for the next emergency. You really do need to have your own supplies for the first several hours, and local sources or adventurous entrepreneurs for the first day or two.

  • ||

    I hope we all realize he'll be the one screeching as the utilities he'd need in an emergency would be sold out.

  • Jujucat||

    "Trolls don't generally prepare such thorough arguments so I'm going to assume you're a retard." Yeah, I was just deducing the same thing.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    and when other suppliers hear that you paid $102 they'll work extra hard to get more water in there so they can get $102 as well. Otherwise, they'll stay parked in Dallas.

  • Netizen_James||

    And when the whole mess collapses in a heap, and your federal reserve notes are no longer worth the paper they're printed on, then what will you do? Your stocks and bonds will all be similarly worthless pieces of paper, or lost bits archived on computer systems that are no longer functional. Anyone without actual GOODS to trade, be they bottles of water or cans of Alpo, will simply be SOL, unless they have useful SKILLS.

    Will you be one of the first to suicide in the face of the apocalypse, like the Man's wife in McCarthy's _The_Road_?

  • Jett Rucker||

    Netizen:
    I've been speculating that small, recognizable pieces of gold and silver MIGHT be tradeable in at least some of these scenarios. No way to predict that, though, without living it.

    Not only is every disaster different, but every DAY of every disaster is different, too. And every PLACE a given disaster occurs is actually different from every other place. I needn't go into the differences among the victims.

    What fun!

  • Jujucat||

    You sound very angry and bitter that someone would have the foresight to prepare for a disaster. Why would that make you so angry?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Spotted the false dichotomy.

    Price signals, government response and private charity are not mutually exclusive.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Of course you don't like him: he's one of the only real honest-to-goodness libertarians here.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I hear fixer-uppers are going for cheap in Houston.

  • Rebel Scum||

    That's why the "person on the street" finds price gouging distasteful.

    It's not "gouging". It's supply and demand. Additionally, price is a signal. It provides incentive for people outside of a crisis zone to take risks to bring supplies to a crisis zone. Try thinking before you wax ignoramus.

  • Jett Rucker||

    Rebel:
    Actually, a lot of people have visceral distaste for FREEDOM, when it's for OTHER people (Them).

    I'm the opposite (and in this, I AM doctrinaire). Lacking strong reasons to the contrary, I WILL favor the decision (like not regulating prices) that visibly promotes freedom, or leaves it intact.

    And there IS NO such "freedom" as the right to potable water, gasoline, electricity, food, nor any such RIGHT, either.

  • Brendan||

    If people are upset about the price, they're free to go to any of the competitors selling at pre-disaster rates.

  • mtrueman||

    "John Stossel is your worst writer. His articles are so easy to debunk."

    His idea to save the rhinos by marketing fake rhino horn powder shows the cut of his mental jib.

  • Chasman1965||

    The difference, though, is in the $99 case, the owner has an incentive to get more bottled water ASAP. In the first come, case, he doesn't. Why should he pay the extra money to get water into a disaster situation, if he can't benefit.

    That said, there needs to be a limited gouging law, say, twice the price. This gives the benefit of price encouraging the business to bring in more water, but also limits the damage they can do to the poor.

  • ||

    And the principle at work here is? By what principle does price fixing give us price? It's sure as hell not the market. It's some bureaucrat's guess as to what people will accept. Some will claim water at the old price is still too high, and since there is greater need, it should be given away. How can you disagree if your focus is 1. Need. 2. Consensus of buyers based on emotion? You can't. These are not "principles". They represent mob rule based on force/fear.
    "Limiting the damage of the market" contains two hidden assumptions: 1. The market (free economic choice) is destructive. 2. Govt. violence, i.e., "limiting", will lessen destruction. Both are false. Both lead to economic chaos.

    The only principle that leads to justice/order is the non-agression principle. It is based on reason, not force.

  • Kevin47||

    "First off, he writes, "Only the first customers get what they need." Now, if price gouging is allowed, the sentence would read, "Only the wealthy customers get what they need." That's why the "person on the street" finds price gouging distasteful."

    a) Non-wealthy people have $99
    b) $99 for water will discourage people from buying more than they need, meaning more people will have what they need.

    You said his argument was easy to debunk, and yet have failed to even understand it.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "John Stossel is your worst writer. His articles are so easy to debunk"

    And yet you were unable to debunk anything he said.

  • Mr. Dyslexic||

    No way in hell is John Stossel Reason's worst writer. He merely writes just as he speaks on camera or on network broadcasts.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Your last sentence perfectly captures why the man on the street is upset about high prices.

    But the reality is that there aren't enough rich people to drive water to $99/case.

  • CE||

    Stossel is the best writer on Reason, because he doesn't back down from libertarian theory, but he explains things well even for those who don't agree with that theory. Other writers make excuses, or assume they are preaching to the choir.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    That's $5 per bottle, which is what about any arena or stadium charges because the customers can't reenter and are not allowed to bring food. They're a captive market, and they get gouged too.

  • jmg09||

    "Easy to debunk" and yet in five paragraphs, you failed to debunk any of it.

  • bgarst||

    If his articles are so easy to debunk, how come you didn't actually debunk anything?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Look pal, Stossel is a good guy who has done more to put a positive face on and promote libertarianism to the masses than you ever will. If you don't like his arguments, fine. Though you might want to quit your bitching, as your arguments are far worse.

  • Jett Rucker||

    If the gas station had to sell its gas and ran out (because someone filled his boat's tank with that cheap gas) before you got there, is THAT any better than if two rich people bought up all the gas for their Rolls-Royces somehow?

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    Continued....

    The second quoted paragraph essentially argues that we should give people incentives to risk "life and limb" to make an extra dollar. Many people would find that distasteful, especially during an event like Harvey where people are dying every day.

    The third paragraph states, "But if the owner can charge $99 for a case of water, you will buy less water." It should say, "you will buy NO water" because few people can afford $99 for a case of water. So you won't be able to get water for yourself, your kids, your sick parents, whatever, because you aren't rich enough.

    The other laughable thing about this article is the suggestion that outlawing price gouging robs suppliers from around the world of the information they need to rush to the devastated areas. Really? News reports of a hurricane followed by a tropical storm dumping historic amounts of rain in an area wouldn't be enough information? Really?

    The fact is that price gouging, like capitalism, works. It's very efficient. The markets respond. Prices respond. Suppliers and consumers respond. And, like capitalism, only those with the sufficient means will be able to procure the products needed to survive. That's really efficient. That's really impressive, to watch the market move in such sweet, sinuous ways. It just sucks if you are the poor schlub at the bottom who dies because he can't afford the water so elegantly priced by the invisible hand.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Pro tip: Don't be poor.
    Also, be prepared for flooding when you live in a flood zone.

  • techgump||

    " _essentially argues that we should give people incentives to risk_ "
    No, it's Stossel is stating that free markets naturally provide incentives whereby some are going to take higher risks for higher reward. That's how some people get rich... taking risks most won't try, and when it actually works through helping others, you're rewarded more handsomely for it.
    No doubt, you'd rather just not have people taking risks to get water to those who will otherwise die. All for the sake of fearing you'll come off "distasteful".

  • techgump||

    "News reports of a hurricane followed by a tropical storm dumping historic amounts of rain in an area wouldn't be enough information? Really?"
    Probably not. It doesn't tell you if people are buying water, or have already stocked in a specific area. It doesn't tell you if people evacuated a specific area. It doesn't tell you if Gov't was able to respond to water needs. It doesn't tell you a lot, actually. But these are all things you'd understand if you actually ran a business once in your life, providing a service people need, rather than complaining about how others do exactly that.

  • Jerryskids||

    Yes, "news reports of a hurricane followed by a tropical storm dumping historic amounts of rain in an area" *is* enough information - if you assume that just because people need something some other people have an obligation to supply that something. Sure, people in a disaster area need plywood, so if I've got a truck and a stash of plywood I have an obligation to run over there and supply it at cost. Fuck you - why should I spend my time and money and take any risk supplying an extraordinary demand if I'm not going to make an extraordinary profit?

  • timbo||

    Correct sir. This is an fantastic subject that will immediately be lost while the "$99 water" crime will be bandied about for the next 3 weeks.

    This reasonable guy is retreating to the "capitalism is mean" tripe when the point is that prices are signal of scarcity. By imposing price controls and punishing gouging, it causes more scarcity .

    So what is more evil? Supply with adequate price signals or no supply because everyone could by as much as they want even if they do not need it?

  • BYODB||

    It's a case-in-point in how these people would rather no one have anything than for those things to be distributed based on ability to pay.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    "if you assume that just because people need something some other people have an obligation to supply that something"

    And there you have the entire progressive thesis in one sentence.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Even if you decide to supply goods at cost, that cost is not just what you purchased it for. You may have to ravel to where it's needed. You may need to put your own safety at risk. How much does that add up to? At what point will enough potential supplier decide their cost is worth the potential return?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Just remember, when government chooses, everyone loses.

  • techgump||

    "News reports of a hurricane followed by a tropical storm dumping historic amounts of rain in an area wouldn't be enough information? Really?"
    Probably not. It doesn't tell you if people are buying water, or have already stocked in a specific area. It doesn't tell you if people evacuated a specific area. It doesn't tell you if Gov't was able to respond to water needs. It doesn't tell you a lot, actually. But these are all things you'd understand if you actually ran a business once in your life, providing a service people need, rather than complaining about how others do exactly that.

  • eyeroller||

    It just sucks if you are the poor schlub at the bottom who dies because he can't afford the water so elegantly priced by the invisible hand.

    Seems like the poor schlub might be able to beg a bottle of water off one of the rich people. I've heard that rich people are often pretty generous. But maybe they never are.

    Anyway, it's even worse for the 20 people in no-gouging world who can't get any water, because it all sold out in the first five minutes because of price controls.

  • RenaD||

    So you deny that there is such a thing as charity, kindness, caring, people with means who help those without means?

    And I don't know about you, but I know plenty of poor schlubs who nonetheless still have smart phones and televisions. Do some traveling. You'll see what the lack of an invisible hand has done to some of this world's poor.

  • Griffin3||

    If the law allows proper demand-based pricing (price gouging), and you have half an ounce of sense, you will keep a supply of the basic necessities and guard them against those with less sense than yourself.

    The alternative to so-called price-gouging is being able to buy NO bottled water at any price, because all the poor schlubs carried off all the water they could possibly need at $4.49/flat, or you could wait in line for 2 hours to get your rationed single flat of water at $4.49, and hope it doesn't run out by the time you get to the front of the line. And, either way, don't expect anyone to take extra effort to bring water to you.

    Last time there was a hurricane here in Pensacola, a bunch of folks filled up a pickup truck with $400 generators in Kentucky, drove them down here and sold them on street corners for $600. Get 6 in a pickup truck, maybe clear $1000 after gas, not bad for a couple days' work. Did people hate to buy a generator at a $200 markup? Maybe, but they had not already bought a generator (been prepared), and the alternative was NO GENERATORS. Home Depot sold out in the first 75 minutes, they couldn't ship them in fast enough -- and you think the gov't could magically wish generators into being?

    tl;dr = The stupid, it burns.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I think the truth is that every real world example would be legal under a theoretical law, and only the imaginary ones would be outlawed.

  • some guy||

    Why would people risk life and limb for anything if they didn't have an incentive to? Do you ever risk life and limb with no incentive?

  • Bubba Jones||

    The highest price actually observed in Houston was $45 and that was such an outlier than it went viral.

    The more realistic example is people charging 50%-100% more for generators they drove in from Ohio. That seems like a perfectly reasonable premium for providing generators on short notice to what is essentially a war zone.

  • CE||

    The third paragraph states, "But if the owner can charge $99 for a case of water, you will buy less water." It should say, "you will buy NO water" because few people can afford $99 for a case of water. So you won't be able to get water for yourself, your kids, your sick parents, whatever, because you aren't rich enough.

    I think you missed the point.

    If the price of water is allowed to go up, more water will be supplied, allowing the price to come down again and saving more lives. Those who don't really need the water won't buy it, leaving more for those who do.

    If the price of water is not allowed to go up, what is on hand will be sold to the first people in line (even if they don't really need it and are just adding to their stash), and then no more water will be provided and people will die.

  • ||

    Price "gouging" is changing the price to reflect the situation, e.g., the free market working, i.e., capitalism. It's the only economics that works, as they finally recogized in the USSR after 74 years of suffering, denying it. Now they have reverted to fascism, a mixed system of socialism/capitalism, like here. It's better but still unstable.

    "...only those with sufficient means...survive." Unless charity is present. It is reduced dramically by govt. intervention.

    Even rich "schlubs" at the top die sometimes in a disaster. Money does not guarantee common sense or rationality.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    I ran a business for almost 20 years before selling it to a Fortune 300 company for lots of money. I'm still a senior executive for that company. I get a big check every year for my efforts.
    Apparently you can't anticipate market trends until you get a monthly sales report from a 7-11 in bumfuck nowhere Texas that says, "We sold more water than expected this month." Do you think these companies are reporting water sales on a daily, our hourly basis, and that you can then ramp up your production line and your supply chain to get water to those places within hours (or days) in order to soothe the market and bring prices back into a harmonious equilibrium?
    Price gouging is a wonderful mechanism for managing supply and demand. I actually think it is the perfect embodiment of capitalism. And I think any "republican" or "conservative" who doesn't support and encourage price gouging is a god damn hypocrite.

    Is capitalism and price gouging ensuring that those that need goods most get them, or do they ensure that those that can afford goods most will get them? If a poor child needs water but has no money, and a relatively more affluent person wants (but doesn't need) water but has money, the wealthier person will get the water. The law of supply and demand ensures that the person with the means gets the goods. But not the person with the most dire need.

  • techgump||

    " Do you think these companies are reporting water sales on a daily, our hourly basis, and that you can then ramp up your production line and your supply chain to get water to those places within hours (or days) in order to soothe the market and bring prices back into a harmonious equilibrium?"
    You think all companies operate like a fortune 300? There are countless corner stores and local distributors that have to make decisions daily, based on street information.

    "Price gouging is a wonderful mechanism for managing supply and demand."
    Call it what you want. Supply and demand is simply what it is. When demand is high, and supply is limited, high prices result. Economics 101.

    "Is capitalism and price gouging ensuring that those that need goods most get them, or do they ensure that those that can afford goods most will get them?"
    Clearly you missed the most important point of this article... as capitalism has proven to be the best mechanism to ensure people get the goods they need most. What doesn't do that is price fixing, as Stossel clearly articulated in this situation, how and why. Venesula is, too, a classic example of price fixing failure. While high prices may tug at your heart strings, you've failed to provide any solution as to why a store owner ought take greater risks, rather than tending to his own, to help people who didn't prepare. You just complain, and blame. Instead you should have prepared.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    I live in Dallas. No flooding here. I'm not complaining or blaming. You keep trying to make me some sort of victim but I make much more money than you and have clearly made better decisions that you. Why would you ever live in California?

    You state: "capitalism has proven to be the best mechanism to ensure people get the goods they need most."

    Can you change your statement to say: "Capitalism has proven to be the best mechanism to ensure ALL people get the goods they need most"?

    You make capitalism sound like the most humanitarian outcome. If a poor person desperately needs water to survive (but has no money), while a relatively wealthier person would like more water (or would like to needlessly hoard water in his/her garage and car like a prepper gopher), will capitalism ensure that the person with a desperate need gets water before the person with a casual water hoarding fetish? I think we both know the answer is no.

  • techgump||

    "Why would you ever live in California?"
    Several reasons. Mind you, California is a huge state, mostly empty, mostly not dangerous, and isn't all dry. Maybe you've never really toured California. Your ignorance is forgiven.

    Can you change your statement to say: "Capitalism has proven to be the best mechanism to ensure ALL people get the goods they need most"?
    Of course not. Price fixing can't either. As it turns out, capitalism has proven itself to be the system that ensures more and more people get the goods they need and want most, for less and less. Price fixing does just the opposite, proven over and over again.

    "You make capitalism sound like the most humanitarian outcome."
    It is. You offer no system more humanitarian either. Nobody has. If there are people without water, and without resources to obtain that water, they are, of course, left to ask others for help. And it's up to others to chose whether to provide that help or not. Not really any different than you wasting your time posting on Reason.com when your energy and time could be spent helping others. Forcing a person to sell thier property in a manner you deem best is no different than others demanding you labor in a manner they deem best. People aren't your slaves. There's nothing humanitarian about playing authoritarian with your naive ideals, to the detriment, none the less, of more people.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    I'll ignore your little ad hominem comments because they are petty and immature. I've been all over CA and have family living there now. To my knowledge none of them are hoarding TP and water in their garages.

    I'm not advocating for price fixing. I'm advocating for a system that ensures that people in need but without the means to pay are in some way given access to the things they need to live; to survive; to not die. I'm fully in favor of price gouging, aka capitalism, because it is the purest demonstration of the ways that pure capitalism favors the wealthy to the detriment of the poor.

    I'm all in favor of 7-11 and walmart jacking up their prices to whatever level they see fit. I think Governor Abbott & the Texas Legislature are total hypocrites for passing any price gouging laws whatsoever. I think Uber should be able to charge whatever price it chooses.

    People will die, in these situations, because they are poor. Just want to make sure the libertarians such as yourself own that. People will die because they market is efficient and they don't have enough money to participate in the market. You've pretty much acknowledged that above so there's really no reason to reply.

  • Longtobefree||

    "I'm advocating for a system that ensures that people in need but without the means to pay are in some way given access to the things they need to live; to survive"

    Find a church with true Christians as members (note this is not all churches).

  • ||

    I'm not advocating for price fixing. I'm advocating for a system that ensures that people in need but without the means to pay are in some way given access to the things they need to live; to survive; to not die.

    So you're advocating price fixing for "people in need but without the means to pay".

  • timbo||

    Reasonable,
    Your call for more sympathy towards those without the means to purchase expensive supplies is well founded but the solution in dire circumstances would always be to let the market function. Would you agree with that?

    To the effect that some people will be unable to procure their needs, is that not the hardship of life? Lets say the price controls allow 10 rich people and 10 poor people to buy all the water. Now the next mix of 20 rich and poor people get nothing?

    The point of the discussion, as always with Capitalism, is that capitalism is the most effective and efficient and fair, not the most perfect. If price fixing results in less supplies in the near term because everyone buys as much as they can, the long term effects are more suffering for a larger group of people.

    Look at Venezuela and simply apply their misery on a shorter time scale. If this water remains in the street and supplies cannot get in, price fixing will leave entire swaths of Houston residents with nothing to eat or drink.

  • Sevo||

    "People will die, in these situations, because they are poor. Just want to make sure the libertarians such as yourself own that. People will die because they market is efficient and they don't have enough money to participate in the market. You've pretty much acknowledged that above so there's really no reason to reply."

    Oh my goodness!
    Some lefty asshole preaching about how people will die under capitalism!
    "So, how many did Communism kill?"
    http://www.thecommentator.com/.....unism_kill

    Fuck off, you self-righteous, lying piece of shit.

  • RenaD||

    Can you change your statement to say: "Capitalism has proven to be the best mechanism to ensure ALL people get the goods they need most"?

    NO economic system can guarantee that!

    Capitalism, or free market economics, is a system whereby all parties involved are at least free to negotiate for what they need, without fear of a gun being held to their head to "force" economic parity, whatever the hell that is. No one has seemed able to define it, so why not just leave people alone?

  • Bubba Jones||

    I like the assumption that people will just let their neighbors die rather than share water.

    Mind boggling.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Ah. This explains it. C-level exec with his head up his ass.

  • buddhastalin||

    How do you live with yourself, being so rich, while all the poor people are dropping like flies around you because capitalism? Why haven't you given away all your money so that those poor desperate people who need water can survive? How can you let poor people die?

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    I'll ignore your little ad hominem comments because they are petty and immature. I've been all over CA and have family living there now. To my knowledge none of them are hoarding TP and water in their garages.

    I'm not advocating for price fixing. I'm advocating for a system that ensures that people in need but without the means to pay are in some way given access to the things they need to live; to survive; to not die. I'm fully in favor of price gouging, aka capitalism, because it is the purest demonstration of the ways that pure capitalism favors the wealthy to the detriment of the poor.

    I'm all in favor of 7-11 and walmart jacking up their prices to whatever level they see fit. I think Governor Abbott & the Texas Legislature are total hypocrites for passing any price gouging laws whatsoever. I think Uber should be able to charge whatever price it chooses.

    People will die, in these situations, because they are poor. Just want to make sure the libertarians such as yourself own that. People will die because they market is efficient and they don't have enough money to participate in the market. You've pretty much acknowledged that above so there's really no reason to reply.

  • techgump||

    "I'm fully in favor of... capitalism, because it is the purest demonstration of the ways that pure capitalism favors the wealthy to the detriment of the poor."
    Ah, you've outed yourself as a poser! You claim you've "ran a business for almost 20 years before selling it to a Fortune 300 company for lots of money," yet must believe that the product/service you sold on the open market was to the "detriment" of those buying it? Furthermore, you purport a Fortune 300 company bought your unnamed biz, becuase, after all, it was a detriment to those buying it? Bullshit. Whatever you purport to have marketed must have been enriching those buying it. That's how wealth is made in capitalism... by increasing the wealth of those you sell to.
    Perhaps you don't understand what wealth is, but when I buy water from someone, I am wealthier... in this case in water. When I buy water from someone, it's because I feel I'm water poor. Buying water from someone doesn't make me poorer... it makes me water richer, in exchange for paper that I feel is worth less than the water I'm obtaining.
    If you actually did create a business, let alone a successful one a fortune 300 company bought, you'd know you've made a product/service that ENRICHED your costumers... those who are poorer without that product/service. No different than the guy selling water, or my ISP. I was information poor until an ISP sold me internet. Now I am far richer than the money I they "gouge" from me; definitely not a detriment. Poser

  • some guy||

    It's the internet. Everyone's a Fortune 300 CEO, or a police detective, or a supermodel's husband, or whatever they want to be. It's great here.

  • Rhywun||

    That's reminds me - what happed to Dunphy? He was all of those things; and more.

  • some guy||

    I'll admit he was a significant inspiration for that comment.

  • MarkLastname||

    I'll have you know I really am in the Forbes 250 and have an A+ IQ and a supermodel girlfriend with a DD wasteline.

  • IceTrey||

    "To my knowledge none of them are hoarding TP and water in their garages."

    That's incredibly irresponsible in a place known for its seismic activity and fires. The state even tells people they need to have survival supplies stockpiled.

  • Jujucat||

    That was VERY well said @techgump. "Water richer" etc... Great concretization of the concept! Imma borrow that!

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Re: IsReasonReasonable

    Who is this prolific retard?

  • Domestic Dissident||

    It's probably Mary Stack off her meds again.

  • some guy||

    He claims to be a successful businessman, but displays a lack of knowledge about basic economics and market capitalism. So, he's a liar and an ignoramus.

    Actually, maybe he was successful at suckling the government teat. In which case he's just an ignoramus.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I'm advocating for a system that ensures that people in need but without the means to pay are in some way given access to the things they need to live; to survive; to not die.

    What is this system called?

  • timbo||

    excellent point.

    You have laissez faire capitalism which works but is not fair to all. It is imperfect but the best system by far.

    Then you have everything else that is based on feelings and results in utter failure and misery.

    A few pictures of people in misery makes everyone lose the ability to reason.

    And that is why people hate libertarians and why americans are total p*ssies. Life is tough. Some people get it and prepare for life. Some people can't understand why life is happening to them.

  • RenaD||

    Oh, no, please don't state the obvious (life is tough, isn't fair, sometimes really sucks and is filled with horror), or you'll be branded as heartless!

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    True. And I notice the poster goes to a standard argument popular with statists whenever someone has the temerity to suggest that individuals can prepare for life's contingencies: they just keep proposing scenarios of increasing ridiculousness, and then claiming triumph that your poor little preparations won't be enough. "So, you think your gun will save you? What if you get attacked by 500 Terminators armed with phased-plasma rifles in the 40-watt range? Ha! I WINZ!!!!"

    It reminds me of the little boys I used to teach in a beginner karate class. When shown a technique they would start with a good question, e.g. "what if he blocks that punch?" but each subsequent question would drift further and further from reality. I had one boy ask me "what if he has a bazooka?". Another asked "what if he's a robot?"

  • some guy||

    If you're attacked by Terminators (or whatever extreme contingency), you're screwed. Sometimes people are screwed. Sometimes (though rarely) they're screwed through no fault of their own. It happens. Ignoring basic economics doesn't change this. There's nothing else to say to people who follow this line of "logic".

  • some guy||

    Market capitalism is fair to all. It's grounded in free association. What could be more fair?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Premise: altruistic = fair.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Childhood.

  • Jujucat||

    Life support.

  • Longtobefree||

    Christianity

  • plusafdotcom||

    Oh, that's an easy question to answer... "Bernie Sanders' version of Socialism..."
    Yep, too many choices for all of us on those grocery store shelves... must be so confusing to people who can't make decisions for themselves and need the gummermint to make 'em for 'em!

    I wonder if he understood the paragraph,
    "But if the owner can charge $99 for a case of water, you will buy less water, and other customers get what they need. More importantly, entrepreneurs have an incentive to move heaven and earth to bring water to the disaster area. They soon do, and the price drops again."
    at all...

    That outrageous price will suck supplies into the areas that are desperate for water. Price fixing and anti-gouging will prevent the "flow of water to the folks who want and need it."

    ... continued...

  • plusafdotcom||

    Damned character limit.... Anyway...


    He obviously wasn't around when FL got nuked by a hurricane some years ago... Lots of "entrepreneurs" in neighboring states emptied their local hardware stores' shelves of portable generators and hauled ass down to FL where electricity was out in vast areas.

    Florida, in THEIR infinite wisdom, shut down those "gougers" charging high prices and making lots of profit on those generators and literally turned them around at the borders.

    Net-Net as some used to say? Florida residents didn't get generators and didn't get electricity for literally weeks longer than they would have if they'd had access to those 'overpriced generators.'

    Such a "benefit" to the Floridians who might have been willing and able to pay for those generators.... and unlike Mr. "Reasonable's" image, might have even been willing to SHARE some of their 'electrical windfall' with neighbors in need, too.

    I don't know what's wrong with "Reasonable," but my money is on a guess that he's somewhere between Hillary, Bernie and Antifa when it comes to Knowledge of Basic Economics.

    I'd love it if Milton Friedman were still alive and could comment on Reasonable's posts. Maybe a link to some YouTube videos might.... ah, shit, they wouldn't make a dent. Forget it.

  • Sevo||

    IsReasonReasonable|8.30.17 @ 3:29AM|#
    "I'll ignore your little ad hominem comments because they are petty and immature."

    Please don't ignore mine.
    We get liars and imbeciles here on a regular basis, so new 'talent' as the latest bozo is always appreciated.
    You claim to have run a successful business. Having started and run a couple, I can presume a) you're lying or b) you got lucky and hired people who saved you from your stupidity.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    "People will die, in these situations, because they are poor. Just want to make sure the libertarians such as yourself own that."

    Why should libertarians own that and not socialists, communists, democrats, or republicans? No matter the economic system, in situations of dire scarcity, people will die, because they are poor. If there's not enough for everybody to live, some will die. Changing the economic system just determines which form of poverty people will die of.

    In some systems, that poverty will be not knowing the right people, in others not having the ability to get in line early enough. In an unregulated market system, that poverty will be probably be monetary (although it might not - sometimes people have non-monetary things to trade that the possessors of the scarce good might want more than money - after all, you can't eat money).

    What you seem to not get is if the scarcity is localized, the increased local prices will provide an incentive for people outside the area of scarcity to bring that scarce resource to the market where it's in demand. Will it be fast enough to save some of the impoverished people? Who knows. But a fixed price isn't likely to provide a strong incentive to bring more of the resource to the market, so if your preferred system is going to forbid "price gouging" it's going to need to provide some *other* strong incentive to bring those resources to that market, or more people are going to die than under the free market system.

  • BYODB||

    This is actually one of the best replies on the thread, well said Bob!

  • Hank Phillips||

    The people who die are the ones who disobey or resist looter coercion. Try it if you don't believe me.

  • Bubba Jones||

    "I'm advocating for a system that ensures that people in need but without the means to pay are in some way given access to the things they need to live; to survive; to not die. "

    We call those "shelters" and "relief efforts." There are literally truck loads of donated supplies being distributed on a daily basis. No one is suggesting we shouldn't do that.

  • Bubba Jones||

    "People will die, in these situations, because they are poor. "

    Given that poor people are far more likely to live in a flood plain, and also less likely to have the resources to evacuate, then your statement should be obvious to anyone who has given this some thought.

    How many rich people get displaced when the Trinity River floods?

  • Rat on a train||

    If Krugman were right, we might as well just go around smashing things all day long.


    The Berkeley riots were just concerned citizens trying to boost the local economy. We should welcome the blackshirts to town and thank them for their help.

  • geo1113||

    "Blackshirts"...you for got the masks...remember the masks are to keep the helpers from breathing in dust and particles which come from that creative boost.

  • Longtobefree||

    Which would you rather see after a disaster; fellow citizens in a boat, who will take you to shelter, or a federal bureaucrat with a briefcase full of forms that may get you some money in a couple of weeks?

    If you think that a store owner should be forced by the government to sell you a $99 case of water for $5 or less, do you think the government should be able to require you to work as a rescue worker for $15/hr?

    This reflects the 'buy gold' philosophy of disasters. Personally, I would rather have the case of water than the gold coin. I can drink the water, but if the water is that scarce, I would not trade you my case of water for your gold coin.

    Note to people in flood plains from someone in a hurricane zone: there are 40 or 50 gallons of water in your water heater. Rather than store bulky, perishable water, keep a small bottle of bleach and a cheesecloth handy. Refer to one of those crazy prepper sites, or the boy scouts to find out why.

  • Griffin3||

    And keep your roof reasonably clean. Gutter water is quite good when you have a taste for it, piquant yet aggressive, with a tangy finish.

  • Ron||

    and if you have a well you will have a pressure tank which can contain anywhere from 5 to 50 gallons of water mine holds 40 gallons. when the power goes out its good for several flushes

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Don't forget your hot water heater!. 40 gallons of fresh water there.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Really should have looked up a few lines...

  • Bubba Jones||

    Dammit I have a tankless water heater.

    But I also have large water jugs (60 gallons total) that I filled up before the hurricane hit. And I filled up the tubs as well. Those jugs are easy to store, empty, in the attic.

    Plus 60 gallons of gas in the spare cans.

  • Longtobefree||

    Bomb maker! BATFE will be by soon.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Spot on, Longto... I've tried to make that 'gold' argument many times to economic illiterates...

    So, you've hoarded gold... BFD. The Apocalypse strikes, and then what.

    What's the price of water, gasoline or food going to be AFTER the SHTF? What, in the 'old economy' might have been a year's supply of gold for trading is suddenly worth a few months or weeks, since Everything is now much more scarce.

    And, as my financial manager keeps reminding his clients, gold is a natural resource... and a commodity. Its value rises and falls with supply and demand. Demand goes up, more mines open; supply increases, but demand doesn't change much, so price per oz drops and mines close. Supply drops, consumption continues, excess supply is sucked out of the market and price goes up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    The LONG-term return on gold, silver and virtually all of the shit those Financial Newsletter guys keep pitching to the economic illiterates is LOWER than a market basket of equity stocks on Wall Street.

    Ah, hell... who listens to me, anyway... Carry on...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's easy for Stossel to say. He's richer than the pope.

  • timbo||

    He's not richer than the pope. The pope oversees thousand of pieces of real estate the world over and sits on massive wealth that he uses to shield the crimes of pedophiles.

    I don't think Stossel and get away with raping millions of little boys.

  • Bubba Jones||

    We don't actually know that, do we? :)

  • wearingit||

    This right here is precisely why libertarianism never "catches on."

  • Rhywun||

    The truth hurts.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah. Doesn't have much emotional appeal. Requires actual thought. Most people really don't like to think. They'd rather feel.

  • some guy||

    Also, most people consider working productively and living responsibly to be less fun than the alternative, so long as they've got someone to bail them out.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Government is the great fiction where everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else."

    -Bastiat

  • Hank Phillips||

    Unlike the T-party or the KKKonsta2-shun party. Does CPUSA or the Econazi party have over 3% of the vote yet?

  • SIV||

    Everything's free in a hurricane. Just break in and take what you want. Insurance is going to pay for it !

    /Radley Balko

  • ||

    Would have been convincing if you linked to an actual quote from Balko.

  • SIV||

  • Domestic Dissident||

    He went to the Washington Post where he belongs, so he doesn't need to pretend he's a libertarian any longer.

  • Sam Haysom||

    Yikes you got knocked the fu@& out.

  • some guy||

    Just remember to "find" what you need. Don't "loot" it. That would be illegal.

  • CE||

    It's called "salvaging".

  • Libertarian||

    Speaking of incentives. Heard on the radio this a.m. that only 20% of those who are losing/lost their houses in Texas have flood insurance. Sheila Jackson Lee pulled a figure of $150 Billion out of her ear and is saying that's what is required. If the Fed Govt buys new houses for those 80% who have no insurance, I wonder how many suckers will continue buying flood insurance?

  • ||

  • timbo||

    No such thing as moral hazard. Only sympathy. Remember, its not your money, its some else's.

    We will not hear one mention of the question' why don't these people have insurance?" If you don't have insurance, you should have purchased it, no?

  • Griffin3||

    So, are they at least going to cough up those back years of insurance premiums they should have paid? You know, the ones they spent on hookers and blow while the rest of us were actually preparing for a possible flood?

  • some guy||

    No, this is like college loan forgiveness, only with exponentially more feelz.

  • mpercy||

    severe repetitive loss properties

    More than 2,100 properties across the U.S. enrolled in the National Flood Insurance Program have flooded and been rebuilt more than 10 times since 1978, according to a new analysis of insurance data by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). One home in Batchelor, Louisiana has flooded 40 times over the past four decades, receiving $428,379 in insurance payments. More than 30,000 properties in the program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have flooded multiple times over the years. Those homes, known as "severe repetitive loss properties," make up just 0.6 percent of federal flood insurance policies. But they account for 10.6 percent of the program's claims — totaling $5.5 billion in payments.

    The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which currently provides policies for more than 5 million American homes, is $23 billion in debt following a string of major natural disasters over the last decades, including as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

    Of the 30,000 homes analyzed by the NRDC, the average cumulative payout per property as a result of repeated flooding was $181,444. Nearly half of these repetitive loss properties have been paid more in flood insurance money than their houses are worth, the NRDC found.

    [https://e360.yale.edu]]

  • sarcasmic||

    "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

    ― James Madison

  • timbo||

    thank you.

  • some guy||

    Pfft. He died like a hundred years ago. Who cars what he had to say?

  • Longtobefree||

    And he was white! Not to be believed.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    If you like your insurance agent you can keep your insurance agent...

  • Ron||

    the $150 billion is used because they know that 60% of that will go to pork spending in places never affected by the storm just like the money set aside for Hurricane Sandy. Real recovery cost should be around $60 billion if even that much.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Flood insurance is required for people who live in the 100 year flood plain.

    But we don't build a lot of houses in the 100 year flood plain.

    So, when a "500 year flood" happens, it's going to predominantly hit houses that don't require flood insurance and therefore don't have it.

    For example. You have a $500k house. Outside the 100 year flood plain. Did not flood during Allison, or Ike, or Rita, or the Tax Day floods, or the Memorial Day floods. Insurance quote is $2,000/year. Do you buy it?

  • BYODB||

    Absolutely, but it really depends on what the number is for the area you live in. Is it in the 1000 year flood plain? The 500 year? It matters, and the rate will be based on that.

  • CE||

    50,000 houses damaged, according to reports.
    150 billion dollars / 50 thousand houses = 3 million dollars per house.
    Since the average house in Texas costs less than 300 thousand, there's the government multiplier effect of 10x in action.

  • sarcasmic||

    IsReasonReasonable needs to learn something about economics.

    "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

  • Rhywun||

    There's a limo service in my city that proudly says they don't "gouge" like Uber does. It's a good thing they have a mobile app too, because you're going to be waiting a long time for it during busy times.

  • Rhywun||

    I love these late-nite re-runs. Pre-retarded for your enjoyment™.

  • Dave99||

    Great stuff, John. Glad to see you working with Reason!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Storms don't help us. Other forms of destruction, from wars to earthquakes, are also bad. This should be obvious, but it isn't to politicians and leftist media. If Krugman were right, we might as well just go around smashing things all day long."
    Exactly, Stossel. Its harder to build wealth when you are having to repair/replace your assets all the time.

  • some guy||

    Well, technically, this disaster may raise GDP, but only because GDP isn't a measure of wealth. My only complaint about this article is that he conflates the two. This is a good example of why blindly looking at GDP number is counterproductive.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Good point. GDP is an imperfect measure of activity.

    What we really need is a measure of net change in wealth.

  • CE||

    And GDP also includes government spending, which ought to be subtracted rather than added.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    It's amazing that simple economics like supply/demand laws get overlooked because of someone's feelings of what is right.

    To deny that price controls lead to scarcity of resources whether during a crisis or not is really no different than to suggest that other natural laws don't apply during a crisis. Why not just switch off gravity and let the water float away? It's an equally absurd proposal.

    Also, if the government cared, they would suspend all taxes on essentials like staple foods, water, fuels, etc. I'm not sure what all is taxed in TX, but I'm assuming that some of these necessities carry some taxes.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Yeah, the "logical" extension of gov't price controls leads to an absurd outcome, at least to those who are fond of some measure of liberty (and sanity):

    Gov't price controls lead to local scarcity, so...

    Gov't directed distribution of goods leads to shortages elsewhere, so...

    Gov't managed production and warehousing leads to shortages of labor and resources, so...

    Gov't controlled workforce and resource development leads to socialist paradise, so...

    Lots of waiting in lines for stuff that never arrives.

  • some guy||

    Yeah, and these people are ignoring "free" water that comes from charity and government. The $99 case of water isn't the last case in town. It's just the first extra case beyond all the relief that's flowing in.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    Nor do they acknowledge that water wouldn't be on the shelves of grocery stores during a crisis at standard price. Instead it would be out of the back of the vehicle of whoever was lucky enough to snatch it up at normal prices, and being sold at whatever price the secondary market would support.

    Stossel is spot on in his analysis, as usual.

  • Rhywun||

    I think they understand supply/demand, they just don't care that under their rules only the strongest get what they want and everyone else gets nothing. That's kind of their utopia.

  • WinstonV||

    People can't eat or drink information, you idiot.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Nor can they eat or drink things in the next state.

  • Sevo||

    "People can't eat or drink information"

    Oh, look!
    Another lefty with bumper-sticker politics!

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    Nor can they eat or drink empty shelves. Want proof? Go to Venezuela.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    You can't eat or drink a lot of useful things. You use them (hence the adjective "useful") to get your food and drink.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I would not advocate price controls by government.

    If a place wanted to gouge like that, I would try to take my business elsewhere. Then when things got normal I would never go back.

    Freedom of association, and voting with your dollar goes beyond any emergency.

  • sarcasmic||

    Socialism is shared misery, and equality is the lowest common denominator.

    Price controls achieve both, by making everyone miserable and equally without.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Don't forget the waiting in line.

  • Longtobefree||

    Absolutely. No one remembers that the 'gas crisis' in the seventies did not lead to long lines until AFTER the feds slapped on price controls. Before that, gas was expensive, but available at the usual wait times, a few minutes. After the feds jumped in to 'help', gas was lower in price at the pump, but you had to take a day off work and lose pay to wait hours to fill up. On the proper (odd or even tag) day.

  • Ron||

    Venezual is a prime example of that right now

  • Hank Phillips||

    But what about Nixon? Wasn't he right-wing and therefore a libertarian capitalist?

  • mtrueman||

    "That's economics—supply and demand. It works pretty well."

    The price of non-potable water must have dropped through the floor. Get in there you entrepreneurs, it's time to make a killing.

  • timbo||

    We get that you don't understand markets and price signals.
    In your ignorance of market forces and scarcity and supply and demand dynamics, please explain why Venezuela has been practicing price controls and manipulation of the money supply and why that is failing.
    All of this discussion is the same dynamic on a shorter time frame
    You may understand this: if the water levels don't recede, then the price controls could result in no food or water in the area because people overbought in panic. With scarcity dictating higher prices, people choose based on priority and make decisions wiser.
    Marxists will never be able to understand extremes. You would never get this until the water cannons come down the street.

  • mtrueman||

    "With scarcity dictating higher prices, people choose based on priority and make decisions wiser."

    There's no scarcity of non-potable water in Houston. Arguably, there is a surplus and its price must have fallen. If you move fast, you can turn someone's disaster into a good thing.

  • BYODB||

    So you feel that non-potable water is a valuable resource in the first place, I see. Well, factually speaking you boil and filter it and guess what it becomes?


    I assume poor people are too ignorant to know how to boil and filter water though, and therefore need government price controls in your view?

  • mtrueman||

    "So you feel that non-potable water is a valuable resource in the first place"

    My feelings shouldn't affect the price of non-potable water in Houston. I am simply pointing out that now is the time to buy it, since it's in such plentiful supply. You don't have to drink it. You can use it to water your lawn or even swim in it.

  • BYODB||

    You are truly a fool with no point, thanks for clearing that up.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
    "Spouting nonsense is an end in itself.

    trueman posted that, and there is nothing to suggest it's not his constant motive.

  • mtrueman||

    "You are truly a fool "

    If you know your Shakespeare, you'll know that the fool not only has the best lines, he's often the only one on stage who speaks the truth.

  • Nihil||

    I've read Shakespeare, and you're no Shakespearean fool.

  • BYODB||

    I do, but you're not that. You're a walking non-sequitur.

  • ||

    If you know your Shakespeare, you'll know that the fool not only has the best lines, he's often the only one on stage who speaks the truth.

    If you know your Shakespeare, you'll know that only a couple of Shakespeare's dozens of plays have a "Fool" character.

  • ||

    You are truly a fool with no point, thanks for clearing that up.

    The sooner one realizes this about mtrueman, the better for all involved.

  • Sevo||

    timbo|8.30.17 @ 12:17PM|#
    "We get that you don't understand markets and price signals."

    trueman understands pretty much nothing.
    He's here spouting nonsense in the hopes that someone makes a mistake and clicks on his handle, which will double the clicks on his blog this week.

  • mtrueman||

    "He's here spouting nonsense in the hopes that someone makes a mistake and clicks on his handle, which will double the clicks on his blog this week."

    Spouting nonsense is an end in itself.

  • Rebel Scum||

    Psht. Next you're gonna tell me that "scarcity" is a thing.

  • timbo||

    I suppose you'll say that markets are efficient when left alone too. Next you will say that government interference results in misallocation of capital and distorted price signals.

    What we need is a functional central Gov't like the ussr.

  • Longtobefree||

    "like the ussr"
    Who?

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    This is hilarious, a libertarian circle jerk. Other than insulting me, you guys are just stroking each other cocks. I came to Reason to get exposed to other points of view and to try to learn, debate, discuss, etc. Clearly none of that will happen here. Feel free to insult my intelligence, integrity, education, reason, etc. That's about all you guys have going for you.

    I wonder how the law of supply and demand would save people in a flood? And don't say, "Well, they shouldn't have built their house in a flood plain." I won't argue with you there. But if the market solves all problems, how would it solve this one?

    See if you can do it without calling me a retard.

  • timbo||

    Reasonable,
    Please read my comments. I did not insult you and explained in detail why free markets are the most efficient and fairest option for everyone, even in a crisis.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    In one of your recent comments you said:

    "We get that you don't understand markets and price signals.
    In your ignorance of market forces and scarcity and supply and demand dynamic...."

    Then you brought up Venezuela and Marxism, neither of which I've brought up and are, at best, an extreme case that bears very little on this discussion.

    And again, I'm actually not arguing for price fixing. I've always felt people on both sides of the spectrum who complain about price gouging are being disingenuous because it only reflects the demands of the market.

    I'm arguing that market pricing will price some people out and they will suffer and perhaps die. And I think we can do better than that as a society.

    Also, many people here are painting the picture of these "heroic producers" who are risking life and limb to bring water into a disaster area. When in many cases it's just some random guy at a grocer store or convenience store who happened to be sitting on a supply that is suddenly in demand. He jacks up the price to reflect the market, making a significant profit in the process. That is his right to do and reflects market forces. But he's not some genius or brave soul; he's not John Galt; he's just another poor schlub who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

  • BYODB||


    But if the market solves all problems, how would it solve this one?

    No one has implied that it solves all problems, and if they did they're just as stupid as you are; an expectation that such a system exists in the first place is not at all rational, logical, or in line with human possibility. You fool.

    I'm going to have to say it: Fuck off, Tulpa. Your concern trolling is noted, as is your continual lying about your job, your work history, your income, your education, and essentially everything you have said. We absolutely know you're lying about your education, so the rest is more likely than not a lie as well.

  • Rebel Scum||

    I came to Reason to get exposed to other points of view and to try to learn, debate, discuss, etc.

    Everything you say after this proves otherwise.

    "Well, they shouldn't have built their house in a flood plain."

    BURN THAT STRAW MAN!

    But if the market solves all problems, how would it solve this one?

    You should try reading:
    that's because prices aren't just money—they are information.

    Price changes tell suppliers what their customers want most, maybe chainsaws more than blankets, water more than flashlights... Seeing people pay higher prices inspires more Uber drivers to leave home to offer people rides, and it causes customers to try other alternatives at busy times. When prices float, there are no shortages.

    What are "incentives"?

  • RenaD||

    You visit a site devoted to libertarian thought, ostensibly to learn ABOUT libertarian thought, and then express shock when you realize the commentariat is mostly what now?

  • Jujucat||

    Agrarian?

  • some guy||

    Let me get this straight. You open up with ad hom attacks on Stossel and a few baseless assertions and now you're mad that you got some of the same in return? If you wanted an honest debate you wouldn't have started off talking about Stossel's erection. You also would have tried to debunk Stossel's arguments after claiming they're so easy to debunk. Instead you just spouted some more baseless assertions and let everyone know that your values are different from Stossel's.

    Plenty of people responded to you earnestly. Plenty more called you an idiot once you had proven yourself to be such. You claim to understand basic economics, but if so, then you fail to carry that understanding through to the logical conclusion, which is that an increase in price will drive an increase in supply. And the higher the price goes, the quicker the supply will increase.

  • Praveen R.||

    When it comes to pandering, looks like the left and the right are clueless about what price gouging actually means. They did the same crap in Georgia when fuel prices spiked because of shortages. It's actually a good thing for retailers to raise prices because it curtails hoarding by the selfish and many people, regardless of income, are selfish. What happened when they enforced price gouging laws in GA? A lot of places ran out of gas quickly.

    Here is an example of what price gouging is. If Best Buy had an enormous supply of water and used the emergency and lack of access to roads to go elsewhere to raise the prices dramatically , not because they are in any danger of running out of supply, that is price gouging. But if the have limited supply , then it is actually prudent for them to price according to the demand to prevent a few customers from buying out all the water. If it hurts anyone's conscience, then Best Buy can use the profits to help out there employees who are suffering too, but it is not required.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    I am genuinely curious about one part of your argument:

    "it is actually prudent for them to price according to the demand to prevent a few customers from buying out all the water"

    Why should Best Buy care who buys the water as long as they get as much profit as possible? It is entirely possible that they could jack up the price and still only one person would have enough money to buy it. Raising the price actually doesn't guarantee distribution or prevent hoarding.

    And for anyone who is about to come along and start questioning my intelligence and understanding of economic principles, I fully understand supply and demand, price signals, etc. Someone with enough money can still hoard a scarce resource. The market can't prevent hoarding. The market can ensure that the goods go to the person or persons who value them the most and have the means to purchase them. Whether they are making these decisions rationally is outside the purview of the market. Not everyone is a rational actor in daily life, and even less so in a crisis.

    And again, before jumping down my throat, I'm not arguing for price fixing. I'm trying to understand the natural outcome of "price gouging" and some of the negative societal effects. It may be perfect from an economic perspective, but that doesn't mean it's perfect from a societal perspective.

  • BYODB||

    Higher prices limit hording precisely because they can afford less of that resource, which is exactly the bit you seem to have a problem with which is understandably hilarious side-by-side with your claims to 'understand' economics and free markets.

  • Praveen R.||

    It was a mild colloquial miusue of the word "prevent" by me. Earlire in the same comment, I did use the word curtail instead of prevent.

    No one can prevent hoarding with or without price gouging rules. But with free market pricing, there is a damn good chance of reducing panic overbuying of a resource. Forget extreme situations like this. In GA, when we had some gas shortages, people were overbuying gas inspite of rationing by some stations. They would just go back in line and get more because gas was not superexpensive and their fears led to actual shortages.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The market doesn't prevent hoarding. It discourages it.

    Your proposed alternative encourages it.

    You are taking an overly deterministic view of this. If Best Buy sets a price too high, then no one buys it and they don't profit.

    If someone hoards at $99, they are going to feel pretty stupid when Walmart restocks tomorrow.

    People hoard "free" or underpriced shit in a crisis. After Ike, we had people waiting 8 hours in line for free MREs while Walmart was open and fully stocked next door. Raising the price is the best way to prevent this.

  • mpercy||

    One example I've heard is this:

    Your family has safely evacuated from the hurricane zone. You don't expect it to be serious, but you evacuated just in case. You've arrived at a hotel that normally charges $100 per room per night. Because of price gouging laws, they are not permitted to increase their prices. You decide that you can afford two rooms at that price, so you and wife can get a little vacation time alone while you put the rugrats in a 2nd room. The family behind you is told that you took the last two rooms and now want to murder you.

    Without the price gouging laws, the hotel would have been free to raise its nightly rate to, say, $500. That price makes you think twice about getting two rooms and you decide that one room will be fine. The family behind you is similarly grateful that they have a place to sleep, even if it does cost $500. (The family behind them is told there are no more rooms, true, but there's not an infinite number of rooms.)

  • mpercy||

    Of course, in the first case above, the first family might decide to give up the 2nd room once they realize that the family behind them doesn't have a place to go. That'd be charity.

    Or, the first family might make a side deal with the 2nd family, to let them have the 2nd room for say $100 plus the $100 to the hotel. In which case the black market settles things when the law won't allow the hotelier to do the very same thing.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    And for everyone arguing that I don't understand supply and demand, scarcity, price signals, etc., read my comments more thoroughly. I actually do think that in most cases the market does do the best job of allocating resources. Not in all cases, but most.

    I think the solution is to address the challenge of income inequality so that more people can more fully participate in the market. The market does very for those with low incomes. And I think we are a wealthy, prosperous society who doesn't have to let people die of easily curable diseases because they don't make enough money (or their parents don't make enough money). Or because they stocked up enough supplies for a five day flood and now it's a ten day flood and their first floor is filling with water so they've moved to the attic. We certainly can let those people die and say, "sorry, that's the law of supply and demand." Or, as some people on this forum like to say, "Sorry, you're a fucking retard who is too stupid or poor to live and I don't give a single shit about you as a human being." Both of things are your right. Just makes you a pretty sad piece of shit yourself.

  • Sevo||

    IsReasonReasonable|8.30.17 @ 12:23PM|#
    "And for everyone arguing that I don't understand supply and demand, scarcity, price signals, etc., read my comments more thoroughly."

    We're arguing either
    A) You are an econ ignoramus
    or
    B) You're a dishonest troll.
    Fool or knave; which is it?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    It could well be both.

    And with a 3rd category added - flat out liar. (All that BS about selling a company and being a senior executive)

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I get that you believe that the market is not good enough. So what is your solution; what would you replace it with?

  • BYODB||


    I actually do think that in most cases the market does do the best job of allocating resources. Not in all cases, but most.


    I think the solution is to address the challenge of income inequality so that more people can more fully participate in the market.

    So, a fool then. Thanks for clearing it up.

  • timbo||

    These are the old liberal socialism or new "conscious capitalism" tag phrase arguments come to life. Always be careful when advocating a little socialism in concert with capitalism.

    You have either capitalism, or you have something else. Nothing else can work other than capitalism.

    These arguments are offered up under the pretense that you can have controlled capitalism or capitalism with some amount of regulation that is deemed enough by who?

    The old we need free market but we need controlled markets defense is basically saying:
    I don't really understand free markets. I get that they work better than Venezuela, cuba, or the Soviet Bloc, I just don't want to admit that because I really like the way socialism sounds better.

    Allowing a little socialism in always ends in a bunch of socialism. It takes a long time for the welfare statists to morph into socialists. In the US, it has taken about 80 years.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    As I previously stated, you guys are more focused on insulting me rather than discussing with me. Or reading my comments thoroughly.

    I'll let you guys go back to your insular little world. I'm sorry I tried to engage.

    In any case, you guys don't have a dog in the hunt - neither of the major parties reflects your beliefs and the Republicans just use you and don't take you seriously. You're just floating on the fringes beating your gongs and no one is listening. From what I've seen from the comments on this page, you won't make any progress because you can't stop insulting the people trying to engage you in a discussion.

    You're just sucking the magic cock of the market which is perfect in each and every way and has not a single flaw or downside. That's why they should just turn off the comments section on this website. Each and every word is perfect and holy and no discussion or commentary is required.

    Best of luck.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Why don't you try the Federalist? I hear some of their trolls get paid.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    ^ This. Thanks for proving my point. You guys can go back to your circle jerk. LOL. So sad.

  • Sevo||

    IsReasonReasonable|8.30.17 @ 2:38PM|#
    "^ This. Thanks for proving my point. You guys can go back to your circle jerk. LOL. So sad."

    You can go back to pitching your left twaddle somewhere else. So pathetic.

  • timbo||

    I answered your questions and you said I was being petty. You asked the same questions over and over again and the respondents gave you reasonable, rational responses with ample explanation and in many cases, evidence of why the nice approach usually ends with more problems than solutions.

    We get that you think there should be a way for poor people to get stuff in a crisis.

    That answer is charity and it always takes care of poor people. It will do fine here.

    So if you actually believe in markets and capitalism, and you want poor people to have access to scarce items, then the best a functional free world can hope for is charity.

    The government just makes things worse.
    When you repeat yourself, people get snarky.

  • Sir Chips Alot||

    why are you so stupid you can't tell us what the system you are advocating is?

  • Sevo||

    He's hoping to spring it on us once we all agree to be jest wunnerful people, full ov compassion an wunnerfulness! And agree to be stupid.

  • BYODB||

    When you claim to understand economics and markets, but then make statements that illustrate to anyone with any formal knowledge of the subject whatsoever that you do not understand those things, then yes you will be insulted because teaching you economics from the ground up on an internet comments board isn't possible.

    Go back to school, and take economics classes. Then maybe we can take you seriously and have a conversation that doesn't involve fallacious talking-point-ready statements like 'we need to address income equality' which, if you had taken even economics 101, you would understand why that statement is utterly meaningless and illustrative of a person who doesn't know jack or shit.

    You wouldn't be laughed out of the room if you didn't say such stupid shit, in other words.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    There are many, many respected economists and scholars who believe we should address income inequality. You just don't agree with them, so you refuse to take it seriously and call it fallacious. That's why there is no room for discussion. You already know the right answer and there is no room for debate; you've found perfection and feel no need to have an open mind that allows any subtlety or nuance or even disagreement.

    So anyone who attempts to discuss or question is, in your mind, an undereducated laughable clown. When in reality, you are just a single-issue, closed minded fool dancing on the fringes of reality.

    I've been to college and taken economics, and I have two master's degrees, one focused on urban economic issues. So I don't need any education "from the ground up" from you. Nor would I choose to take any lessons from you since I prefer to think rather than have your narrow minded opinions shoved down my throat.

    Your simple minded understanding of the market and human behavior would be laughed at by any serious group of adults.

  • BYODB||

    Income inequality, as a concept, fundamentally misunderstands the nature of economics in that it isn't a zero sum game. Just because I have more, it does not mean that you have less because of it. Your continued assertion that it does is why people are rightly pointing out that you're simply wrong here. There is no room for discussion because the discussion, as framed, is a lie on your part.

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    Don't develop a straw man, attribute it to me, then tell me I'm wrong.

  • BYODB||

    Question: Could you elaborate on what you mean by 'income inequality' since it would appear your definition is not the same one bandied about by the experts you failed to cite.

  • Sevo||

    IsReasonReasonable|8.30.17 @ 2:52PM|#
    "There are many, many respected economists and scholars who believe we should address income inequality."

    There are many, many people who think Marxism is just ducky.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Let me try asking again: HOW do you want to address income inequality?

  • Nihil||

    I've tried this approach with other trolls. It isn't worth your time. At best, you will get sophistry, misdirection, and shifting of the goal posts.

  • Suckin' Seed||

    I think he is referencing the basic income idea. There is not enough productive work for eberyone so the government should just send everybody a check. He is calling this economics instead of redistribution. Doesn't solve his problem, though. Just postpones it.

  • timbo||

    The many many economists that believe we should have equal results economics are charlatans.
    That is the point of everyone debunking your assertions.

    Krugman, for example, is one of those very wrong economists. There are thousands of them teaching at American universities and spouting platitudes on television. They are not business people. .

    They are Keynesian dolts. You cannot solve problems by manipulating prices and steering markets.

    Distortions always result. In this case, everyone is making the pity argument for people who cannot afford $99.00 water. Our entire case is that these forced distortions of market signals causes more scarcity later but as Keynesians always illustrate, like the FED, the results of their actions are not as important as the perceived immediate gratification.

    Would you be willing to listen to that rather than repeat that free markets are not fair and that we should have equality in capitalism? Equality in capitalism is not possible. Equality in socialism is possible for a while until you get Venezuela. The only thing that is possible is equal opportunity for all which is only possible with Capitalism.
    I have not insulted you once so please don't repeat yourself any further.

  • Bubba Jones||

    You moved the goalposts from price gouging in a crisis to income inequality.

  • Praveen R.||

    I actually lean progressive. But I have to agree with most here on the wisdom of letting stores increase the price.

  • RenaD||

    I think the solution is to address the challenge of income inequality so that more people can more fully participate in the market. The market does very for those with low incomes. And I think we are a wealthy, prosperous society who doesn't have to let people die of easily curable diseases because they don't make enough money (or their parents don't make enough money). Or because they stocked up enough supplies for a five day flood and now it's a ten day flood and their first floor is filling with water so they've moved to the attic. We certainly can let those people die and say, "sorry, that's the law of supply and demand." Or, as some people on this forum like to say, "Sorry, you're a fucking retard who is too stupid or poor to live and I don't give a single shit about you as a human being." Both of things are your right. Just makes you a pretty sad piece of shit yourself.

    When you make statements like this, which: 1. show an obvious lack of basic understanding of economics, 2. accuse people who believe in a free market of being heartless simply because sometimes reality bites and there is nothing anyone can do about it AND 3. then do not posit what YOU believe is the solution (as many here have asked), then people are going to get frustrated with you. And you interpret that as being insulting?

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    Apparently everyone who reads Reason has a PhD. in Economics. Who knew?

    You guys keep saying I lack a basic understanding of Economics. Are you guys at all aware that there are no libertarian economies anywhere in the world? And that there are many, many functional economies in the world, and there have been for years? They may not be perfect, but they are working, so apparently it is possible to function without a pure market.

    Your understanding of economics is like a lab simulation of reality with all the complexity and unpredictability removed. It has no basis in the real world where real human actors have to make complex decisions with imperfect information and foresight. Your pure economic model will never and could never happen. But you all love to live in this world of superiority where you all KNOW the truth and everyone else "lacks a basic understanding of Economics."

  • BYODB||

    Apparently some people who read Reason haven't even taken an economics class in their entire life, while some of us have been formally trained in economics. And yeah, a lot of people here actually do have degrees in economics and it's plain to all of them are you're not only wrong but incapable of admitting as much.

  • Sevo||

    IsReasonReasonable|8.30.17 @ 3:07PM|#
    "Apparently everyone who reads Reason has a PhD. in Economics."

    Apparently, imbeciles show up and troll Reason.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Are you guys at all aware that there are no libertarian economies anywhere in the world?

    Go to a flea market. Buy drugs from a street dealer. They may not be gentrified, but they are pure supply/demand driven economies.

  • mtrueman||

    "They may not be gentrified, but they are pure supply/demand driven economies."

    They are not pure if either the buyer or seller can be picked up by the police and locked in a cage. Like many Libertarians you seem to romanticize black markets.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    I disagree. From the perspective of buyer and seller, they are.

    Perhaps a better example is in order. Suppose I change the oil in my friend's car in exchange for a case of Guinness. We just agree to do it without the blessing of the state. Technically I've broken the law (failing to pay taxes, no business license, etc). But this was a mutual agreement between 2 people in a free market. Pure supply and demand.

    It's only a black market because the state says so.

  • timbo||

    We don't romanticize them at all. Again you don't understand. What we understand is that if you try to limit the sale of products that people want, you get black markets which are dangerous.
    We advocate for less government controls in markets which allows more entrants to markets, better pricing through competition, and ultimately better products cheaper and faster because more people enter into lucrative markets with better ideas.

    To this to ---wait for it---make money!!!!!
    those evil bastards.
    In the case of $99.00 evil water peddlers, all price controls will do is result in short term shortages of water and in many cases, continued price controls result in long term shortages every time.
    You have to be willing to read the other side of your arguments before you spout silly fairness retorts.

  • Nihil||

    Price controls as a response to a crisis also tend to bring about a group of well connected people who always seem to be the first in in line for supplies regardless of their actual need. The end result is an even worse distribution of supplies, and often creates black markets.

    I'll never understand why some people consider this outcome to be better than just letting a shop owner charge whatever they want for a limited supply of a high-demand product.

  • Sevo||

    "Like many Libertarians you seem to romanticize black markets."

    mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
    "Spouting nonsense is an end in itself."

  • Jujucat||

    A state of emergency is an anomaly, so not a good basis by which to measure a system.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Price gouging laws are about pure envy - there's nothing more to it than that.

    I have seen gas shortages in my area before due to disruptions in the Colonial pipeline.

    Some gas stations simply shut down their pumps rather than try to get additional supply.

    The envious think it's "not fair" that someone else with more money can get gas and they cannot so they want everyone to have to do equally without. And that is the mindset the politicians play to.

  • BYODB||

    ^ This.

  • timbo||

    Meanwhile, the leftist with masks on their face just throw rocks and beat people. Who is more violent, the thugs or the politicians who foment thuggery?

    In Mussolini's pre-war italy, the fascists(class warfare mongers) threw rocks at people with nice cars or businessmen who wore suits.

    Give antifa time. They can only get away with fascist opposite day for so long.

  • Jujucat||

    Yep ^

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Prices Should Rise During Crises Like Hurricane Harvey

    "Paul Krugman made the same foolish error after 9/11's terrorism. He wrote that the attack might "do some economic good."

    There are idiots, and then there is Krugman.
    He's an idiot in a much higher class then your usual useful idiot.
    He's definitely a world class idiot.

  • BYODB||

    That's why they gave him the Nobel, I'd imagine. He's actually one of the specific reason's I laugh at the Nobel committee.

  • mpercy||

    Well, that and that they gave Obama's Peace Prize and Yasser Arafat Peace prizes.

  • Eric Bana||

    Let's all destroy Paul Krugman's house and see what he thinks.

  • timbo||

    The broken window, of Keynesian assholes, fallacy?

  • Fear and Loathing in DC||

    Its a disaster. If you're charging obscene amounts for food and water, you should be able to justify that amount; cap it at a percentage over costs and you get the best of both worlds.

  • Sevo||

    "cap it at a percentage over costs"

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Fear and Loathing in DC||

    yawn

  • Fear and Loathing in DC||

    the very term "price gouging" refers to products sold at prices not reflective of their market value, so a defense of the market doesn't need to include that crap.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    So what's the value of fresh water in a disaster area?

  • Sevo||

    "...at prices not reflective of their market value..."

    Lefty ignoramuses claim to know 'market values'.
    Fuck off, slaver.

  • timbo||

    If you are paying attention, the sensationalists have to use terms like "gouging" because capitalists are mean.

    If an honest politician or reporter were to say; "prices are rising as products have flown off shelves in this time of great need. Some retailers still have products because they adjusted their prices according to need and some of those retailers are located at _____ and _________." - then that sensational scumbag reporter or politician could not play off of the sympathies of people who cannot and who have not experienced offering a product for the potential mutual exchange of benefit.

  • timbo||

    And for the last time: $99.00 is the current market value. If you do not want $99.00 water, then unfortunately, you will have to make other arrangements in this supposed free market.

    Someone on this site already alluded to the fact that unscrupulous merchants reap the consequences of charging too much. If someone is ripping you off, don't go to that guy in the future.

    Or you can get some pimp politician to do your work for you which just makes you lazy.

  • some guy||

    Exactly. But, many local businesses have to consider the PR of raising their prices vs. the PR of selling out of perceived essentials before many customers have had a chance to purchase. One imperfect way around this is to enforce quantity limits on purchases. This can help protect a businesses reputation by making it harder for a few people to hoard a product or resell it outside the store.

  • timbo||

    There you go thinking like an entrepreneur who wants repeat business. You know what the average American wants to do to you?

  • Sevo||

    "One imperfect way around this is to enforce quantity limits on purchases. This can help protect a businesses reputation by making it harder for a few people to hoard a product or resell it outside the store."

    Every year at T-giving, Glide Memorial Church hands out free turkeys, one to a customer.
    You can stand three or four blocks from the church and watch those turkeys magically turn into dope, and the provider of the bird going over to get back in line.
    Of course, the church hears nothing but plaudits for its encouragement of the drug trade (or something).

  • some guy||

    If a price is not reflective of the market value, then you can just go somewhere else in the market to buy the product. If the cheapest water in your market costs $99, then $99 is the market value. That's the whole point here. The value of water (and therefore the price) is higher during a disaster because people need water to live and so they hoard it and the supply is recovering slowly due to transportation difficulties. If you artificially cap the price then there is less incentive for people outside the market to try to replenish that supply.

  • Fear and Loathing in DC||

    Yikes. Unequal bargaining power creates market failures, this isn't a shocker to anyone with an economics degree. Prices in disasters are no longer effective signals due to that. You can still have entrepreneurship and allow high costs to be factored in without literally embracing extortion.

    Just bc youre drowning and the only person with a boat near you says its your life savings or else, doesn't mean that boat ride is reflective of the functioning market price of a boat ride.

  • Sevo||

    Fear and Loathing in DC|8.30.17 @ 4:35PM|#
    "Unequal bargaining power creates market failures,"

    Non-vintage lefty whine.
    ALL bargaining is unequal to some degree.

  • BYODB||


    Prices in disasters are no longer effective signals...

    This I can generally agree with regardless of how you arrive there, even if only because disasters are chaotic and chaos is anathema to stable markets. I'm not sure if it really constitutes extortion or not, since frankly it's not that hard to purify water and they have upwards of 50 inches of the stuff, but working from the assumption that most people are helpless lemmings I suppose you're as right as anyone else.

    If you're so desperate that you'd be willing to drink flood waters sans purification, and someone holds out a bottle of water with a billion-dollar price tag (hyperbole) just as you're about to take that definitely-fatal drink perhaps that would be accurate. This is still a first-world disaster and as such there is no shortage of aid, charity, and places generally close by that sell first world products at reasonable enough prices.

    That said I'm sure there are situations where your analogy would hold up.

  • Suckin' Seed||

    Yes it does.

  • ||

    cap it at a percentage over costs and you get the best of both worlds.

    No you don't.

    Capping a price doesn't affect prices - it affects supply. If the market price of water is currently $99/bottle, capping that price at $10/bottle doesn't bring the market price to $10/bottle - it takes water off the market at any price.

  • BYODB||

    If you listen to some people, there is no supply side. Those people are fools, even if they don't know it. Ironically, the quoted 'solution' is exactly the type of crap our government would try because it sounds good and they honestly just don't know any better. Of course, if they tried it and it failed it would be a 'market failure' needless to say.

  • Fear and Loathing in DC||

    Pretending like this is a functioning market when its a failed one makes no sense. What you really don't want to do is disincentive people supplying water. So in post-disaster litigation, you'd need to justify high prices as being different from extortion. I think its fairly easy to say, there were significant costs getting the water here, and I wasn't extorting someone charging $50.

  • ||

    ^ This.

    The cost breakdown is, in a sense, $1 for the bottle of water, $49 for the dangerous, hour-long boat ride it takes to get it to you.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Why do you think the market isn't functioning?

    http://cmga360food.files.wordp.....=492&h=279

    We spotted this H-E-B disaster relief convoy staged just outside Goliad, TX. NBC DFW #Harvey

    http://www.facebook.com/BrianC.....293920286/

  • Sevo||

    Fear and Loathing in DC|8.30.17 @ 4:38PM|#
    "Pretending like this is a functioning market when its a failed one makes no sense."

    Lying, claiming it isn't a market is the height of stupidity.
    It is a functioning market and lefties hate when that happens.

  • Fear and Loathing in DC||

    Oh okay, so you think market failures are fictional, and all markets function perfectly at all times. Interesting. This conversation seems worth continuing.

  • Sevo||

    Fear and Loathing in DC|8.30.17 @ 4:54PM|#
    "Oh okay, so you think market failures are fictional, and all markets function perfectly at all times. Interesting."

    Did you bring that strawman with you, or find it on the way.
    Lefties NEVER engage in honest discussions; lies, misdirection, strawmen, any mendacity will do.

  • ||

    The market is the market, and the market functions the way the market functions.

    The sense that a market can fail arises from the sense that the market is supposed to do something in particular.

    What is it that you feel the market is supposed to do that it's not doing, and what is your reason for assuming that the market has the purpose that you assume it has?

  • Suckin' Seed||

    G1

  • wayx3||

    Many people forget or don't understand that the "Market" is made up of each and every individuals like you and I, whenever you mention the market, yes you're part of the market!

    If you think $99 for a pack of water is wrong, then do something about either becoming an entrepreneur or an effective charity that figure out a way to delivery clean water supply to a place of crisis for a cheaper price!

  • MarkLastname||

    The only market failure relevant here is monopolies, and you're not even trying to argue that monopolies exist for basic necessities; ergo, prices would only increase to the extent that costs increase.

    See, you're assuming there's a market failure, rather than showing that there is one.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Not by California minimum wage standards, that's fer shoor!

  • MarkLastname||

    What percentage? Markets for bottled water and food are highly competitive, so it's virtually inevitable that whatever you pick will either be too low and induce unnecessary scarcity or too high and be irrelevant.

  • And you believe that why?||

    You've unwittingly hit on the right idea. The key point to understand is that, during an emergency, costs to obtain food and water skyrocket. We don't need to bother doing percentages though. If the store owner tries to overcharge by far more than the current transport costs, someone will truck in food and water, undercutting that price.

  • Sevo||

    "If the store owner tries to overcharge by far more than the current transport costs, someone will truck in food and water, undercutting that price."

    Amazing how that works, isn't it? And the folks like our newest meathead just can't imagine someone else figuring they can make some money by offering it at a 10% discount.
    Our newest meathead who 'ran a big company!'.

  • JuliusN||

    Somebody needs to explain this to the Chicago City Council:

    The surge-pricing cap was driven by what Beale calls the predatory pricing by Uber and Lyft after a body was found on the CTA elevated tracks at Fullerton earlier this month. That halted service on the Brown, Purple and Red lines, leaving thousands of commuters scrambling to get to work.

    If the full Council approves the ordinance, surge pricing would be capped at 150 percent above the average regular fare set during the seven days preceding any "unforeseen emergency."

  • Longtobefree||

    Wait. What?
    Uber and Lyft are killing people to raise prices?
    Is that what predatory pricing means? Cause there are bodies all over Chicago all the time.
    (proving how effective gun control really is)

  • SHAFAR NULLIFIDIAN||

    Stossel is a nescient nabob of numbskullery whose depth of knowledge on any subject is measured in yoctometers. He would recognize "gouging" lest it be done to his own eyes!

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, the $99 case of water means that the $42 case of water at Best Buy was not price gouging, as charged, but actually a 1/2 off sale price. They should have been commended for their civic sacrifice.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Hey! Religious conservative Adolf Hitler denounced profiteering: 12. In view of the enormous sacrifices of life and property demanded of a nation by any war, personal enrichment from war must be regarded as a crime against the nation. We demand therefore the ruthless confiscation of all war profits." And didn't President Obama declare War on Global Warming? There's more... "18. We demand the ruthless prosecution of those whose activities are injurious to the common interest. Common criminals, usurers, profiteers, etc., must be punished with death, whatever their creed or race." I believe this is about hemp dealers.

  • Sevo||

    Except that I'm pretty sure Speer, Tooze and Weinberg all have Hitler actively planning to replace the Mosaic religions with worship of him as founder of the Reich.
    Probably not "religious conservative" in most people's opinion.

  • MarkLastname||

    Fun fact (I think; learned it from the history channel so it's probably billshit): Goebbels encouraged Germans to copulate in ancient cemeteries so ancient Norse warriors would be reincarnated in their children.

  • Sevo||

    OK, there is more than 20 ft of shelf space devoted to books on WWII in two rooms but that's is a new one on me.
    Pretty sure it was Goebbels who prompted the SS members to fuck blonde German women, but I'd never heard of the cemetery fixation. I would not be surprised; he tried every gambit he could find.

  • Sevo||

    Eric|8.30.17 @ 11:14AM|#
    "May I offer some advice:
    #1 - Calling this guy a retard or imbecile or troll accomplishes what? If you want an echo chamber where you don't have to be bothered with differing opinions then go join the circle jerkers at glibertarian."

    It's not bad advice for certain circumstances, but this meathead, claiming to 'want to learn' shows up and immediately makes an ass of himself by whining that the government should fix the price of thus and so, because he thinks so.
    We get entirely too many twits who start posting here to inform us of the fatal flaw in libertarian theory that just occurred to them after oh, two or three minutes of 'careful consideration', as if the assembled multitude here hadn't devoted years to considering such stuff.
    Assholes like that do NOT deserve any consideration or courtesy at ALL. It's as insulting as some of Tony's dishonesty.

  • Red Twilight||

    Who told you to stop sucking Drumpf's cock? GET BACK ON IT, ASSHOLE!

  • Sevo||

    Red Twilight|8.31.17 @ 8:46PM|#
    "...Drumpf's..."

    Oh, oh, look! Our lefty imbecile tries to make a funny.

  • WinstonV||

    You can't eat information. If you charge $99 for a case of water, no one but the rich will get water until there's either a ton more more water or the rich run out of money and the demand for a $99 case of water goes to zero. Great for concentrating wealth in a crisis. In your Randian fantasy of economic Darwinism, I guess that's OK.

  • Sevo||

    WinstonV|8.30.17 @ 10:06PM|#
    "You can't eat information. If you charge $99 for a case of water, no one but the rich will get water until there's either a ton more more water or the rich run out of money and the demand for a $99 case of water goes to zero. Great for concentrating wealth in a crisis. In your Randian fantasy of economic Darwinism, I guess that's OK."

    You ignoramus, you got called on your stupidity up-thread. And now you post to prove you're an imbecile once again?
    How stupid do you have to be to do so? Can you tie your shoe laces?
    Fuck off, slaver.

  • CE||

    If you cap the price at $5 for a case of water, people who already have water will stock up on more, just in case, and get in line early. Stores will sell what they have and then leave. Less water will be supplied and more people will die.

    If you don't cap water prices, more water will be shipped in and more people will live, and prices will eventually fall back to normal.

  • Red Twilight||

    But if the owner can charge $99 for a case of water, you will buy less water, and other customers get what they need.

    Quite moronic. If people do not have $99 for a case of water but need water, customers do not get what they need.

  • Sevo||

    Red Twilight|8.31.17 @ 8:45PM|#
    "Quite moronic. If people do not have $99 for a case of water but need water, customers do not get what they need."

    Yes, your comment is moronic, but that's what we expect of you, so thanks for living down to your rep.

  • Heraclitus||

    Wait, what about all the Texas heroes I keep hearing about? You mean they knew people needed help and they didn't have price signals giving them information? Or do they use mobile apps to accept payment when they boat in for a rescue? I'd love to know the going rate for a rescue. I need proper information so I know whether I should haul my boat down to Texas this weekend.

  • Mark Guy||

    September 1, 2017.

    A run on gas in Dallas, Austin, and other Texas cities has left most gas stations dry. Since acting like good, reasonable citizens is out of the question, it seems the only thing that could have prevented this was a rise in prices. But that would have been against the law.

    Now we are left with actual shortages that will impact the lives of many, while many others have needlessly hoarded gas in unapproved containers.

  • XM||

    Everyone knew about Hurricane Harvey well before it struck. The weather people accurately predicted which areas would be hit. The area affected ample time to stock up on essential resources. My dad bought gallons of water the last time So cal was hit by a minor earthquake.

    Are stores in that area only selling cases of water? I bet you can buy individual bottles for 6 bucks somewhere, which isn't that far off from how much you would pay for a bucket of popcorn at a movie theater. And you'd be forced to do that only if rescue worker and fellow human beings wouldn't give you water. Or if the rest of Texas and 49 states said "F-you die of thirst" and wouldn't ship in water. Water, it's everywhere.

    The progs run business model based on price gouging. An amusement park caliber churro stick isn't worth more than 99 cents. Vendors at Downtown Disney charges me 6.50 for it. If I had no choices to begin with and stores slapped insane prices on what limited supplies there are, then I might be outraged. But what could stop me from buying gallons of water 3 days before the hurricane?

  • Netizen_James||

    No, the opposite is true.
    Whenever price isn't solely a function of the cost of production, that's gouging. Increasing prices simply because demand exists is gouging, all by itself.

    Capitalism is built on gouging.
    That makes it 'normal', which is not the same as 'right'.

    Of course, the whole concept of 'owning' real estate makes zero sense whatsoever, and is fundamentally based in the initiation of violence (who says you own that property? Who did you buy it from? Who did THEY by it from? Go back far enough and you'll find the people who had that property TAKEN from them by state-sanctioned violence.)

    So property is just a proxy for the willingness to accept violence as a means of acquisition. Capitalism is just another way of saying 'might makes right'. A way of answering 'why' with 'because I CAN, and there's nothing puny little you can do about it'.

  • Sevo||

    Netizen_James|9.1.17 @ 4:52PM|#
    "Whenever price isn't solely a function of the cost of production, that's gouging."

    You are an economic ignoramus who has no place in a discussion amung adults.
    Fuck off.

  • Eman||

    Yknow in Europe they distribute their resources based on how long you can wait in line, which seems a little fairer. Similar to the way that advertising isn't speech, time most certainly isn't money.

  • Sevo||

    "Yknow in Europe they distribute their resources based on how long you can wait in line, which seems a little fairer. Similar to the way that advertising isn't speech, time most certainly isn't money."

    I hope this is sarc.

  • bvandyke||

    As some one in the disaster zone, preparation is the key. Knew a storm was coming, generally keep plenty of stuff at the house (we had plenty). Not in a "flood zone" but flooded. Graphic on tv said it perfectly today - by my house it was a once in 40,000 year flood - 56" of rain in 3 days. At my house it was 26" in 2 hours that caused the problem. After that two hours water receded from house and no other issue (for me at least).

    Gas prices have gone up, groceries have gone up and I expect it. Supplies are some what limited, will take some time to get them in, then they will go down. Building supplies for fixing things will go up (expect it). All expected. If someone is gouging then they will probably not be doing it for long - make it while you can.

    Moral here - be prepared and pay attention to what is going on around you.

  • Ham_Bone||

    Apparently there was some sort of disaster last week in Folsom, CA. The hotel I was staying at was charging the equivalent of $124.00/case of water for the conveniently, pre-chilled bottles stocked in my suite.

  • Mark22||

    "These are things you can't do in Texas," he says. "There are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this."

    Presumably, you can still close your store until the crisis blows over "in Texas", right?

  • ThyRodent||

    All of the arguments that raising prices in the face of a supply shortage assume one thing: That there is no other means of acquiring basic needs other than the free market.

    In almost all cases of disaster there are organizations of both the charitable and government run variety that provide for people in an emergency and they are always free. So what is the difference? You wait on line for what you need. You may also travel farther for what you need, but there is always a way to get what you need. Money in these cases are for the sake of convenience. Don't want to wait on line for 3 hours for the supply your family needs? Pay for it, or store it. Even in minimal government libertarian dream worlds that don't exist, there's little argument for the abolition of disaster relief organizations. There is no way to avoid some sort of competition for a scarce resource. Ether it is being the first on line or using money or barter to trade a higher value resource for what you need.
    Price controls only assume to turn business into charity by the force of law.
    If you are for that than, you are by definition opposed to the viewpoints espoused by this web site and the columnists they employ. Thank you for your opinion comrade - we disagree.

  • dickt-c-s||

    If storm destruction is good for the economy because of the broken-window effect, as CNBC & Krugman think, and if global warming causes more storms, then global warming helps the economy! Perfect!

  • BenMSYS||

    So it's a $20K penalty for each instance of gouging, but $200K if you gouge a senior citizen? It's like Texas is changing the price of something as circumstances change. And the state is benefitting. For shame.

  • troll||

    they aren't gouging because they think it's a good idea, they are just trying to make as much money as they can before their store is destroyed. they're just like the conquistadores looking for gold. we're all generally garbage people. capitalism just makes it not as bad. it keeps the garbage from taking control of everyone under one garbage person. but we're all still trash.

    Besides, tell me how you can run out of water in a storm. there's water literally pouring from the sky. just get a bucket or cup your hands.

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