The \"G\" Word

Here we go again.

After every natural disaster, the logical laws of supply and demand get removed out of the American psyche. Instead, just like clockwork, typing in "gouging" and "Hurricane Charley" into Google will net more than enough results to keep one occupied all morning.

From this Washington Times article:

Some greedy merchants started ahead of the storm. He cited one complaint about a man in the Orlando area who normally leases generators for $250 a day with no requirements. He boosted the price to about $400 a day just before the storm hit, and implemented a seven-day minimum policy.

As it should be. With everyone and their brother interested in leasing a generator (a.k.a. sky-high demand), the merchants keep their supply in check by offering a higher-than-normal price. This price weeds out those who are only mildly interested in a generator, and instead supplies the market that really needs it. Instead, the merchants are simply called "greedy" for using common sense.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Florida passed a law banning needlessly inflated prices after a declared "state of emergency." (bold added)

"Needlessly"? Says who?
It gets worse...

Consumers were warned to not pay extremely high prices for commodities like water, gasoline, batteries, food, hotel rooms, ice, lumber and generators.

:wall:

On the saner side of things, Neal Boortz says:

First we have the guarantee in the United States Constitution that the government will not interfere with the operation of valid contracts between individuals. An agreement by one to sell and another to purchase a chain saw for three times its common retail price is a contract between two individuals. As long as that contract is voluntarily entered into, and there is no fraud involved, and the parties are of the legal engage to execute a contract ... the government has no legitimate cause to intervene.
I'm told that yesterday some reporter from the Fox News Channel said that chain saws were being sold in the path of Hurricane Charley for "more than they're worth." Think about this for a moment. If you needed a chainsaw to clear some trees around your home, would you willingly go out and pay more for that chainsaw than it is worth to you? The value of that chainsaw increases with your need for it. If the cost exceeds that value you will walk away. The actions of free people operating in a free market set prices. The only time you will see a product costing more than it is worth is when the government steps in and interferes with basic economic liberties by setting the cost of a product or service.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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:neutral: I think Michi (not

:neutral:

I think Michi (not to me confused with Micha) has a point. But I also think JTK has a point. It is certainly the more noble action to sell it at a lower than market value price in a case of emergency, but at the same time I don't think the government should enforce any set price.

If a person was about to die of thirst, and you had some water, what do you think would be the right action? A) say that you will not give him the water unless he signs away his house and everything he owns to you. B) give him the water for free.

Micha, I'm not sure about

Micha,

I'm not sure about the original source of the quote, but the first time I saw the idea was in the poem "The Incredible Bread Machine" by R.W. Grant.

Here's a link

Here's the relevant stanza:

Now let me state the present rules,"
The lawyer then went on,
"These very simple guidelines,
You can rely upon:
Your gouging on your prices if
You charge more than the rest.
But it's unfair competition if
You think you can charge less!
"A second point that we would make
To help avoid confusion...
Don't try to charge the same amount,
That would be Collusion!
You must compete. But not too much,
For if you do you see,
Then the market would be yours -
And that's Monopoly!

Here is a variation of this

Here is a variation of this scenario; what if the hardware store owner has 50 chainsaws and decides to NOT sell any of them? even though his store is open he decides they are not for sale. his choice just because he feels like it. Should the gov't force him to sell the chainsaws? how could one argue FOR that outcome? they're HIS for fuck sakes?!?!?

Mongoose, In your water

Mongoose,

In your water bottle example, you assume you have only one interested customer out of the whole population.

We need to make your example more similar to the real-life Hurricane event...

Let's say you are a merchant and have only ONE bottle of water left to sell. You have a customer base of 100 interested buyers: One is literally dying of thirst, while the other 99 customers would like a gulp of water to wash down some food they are munching on.

-If you sold the last bottle for its usual price of $1, who is most likely to buy it? (Answer: Since they'll all want to buy it, it's whoever among the 100 customers gets in line first. Most likely, the man who needs it most will not be first in line, and will die.)

-If you boost the price of that bottle to $10, who is most likely to buy it? (Answer: The guy dying of thirst)

AndyW, I can see your

AndyW,

I can see your point about the incentive to keep chainsaws in stock for such times. But, I'm still not seeing anyone mention the most basic needs items -- such as water.

Gil,

Thanks for the link!

Jonathan,

Yes, I'm sure that even some of the people in the area of the hurricane could indeed benefit from gouging.

However, I still don't believe it to be right[or ethical] in regards to basic needs items, again, like drinking water.

Doug,

I live in an area of Michigan that was affected by the blackout, also. The example you gave on gasoline makes a lot of sense[hard to believe it's $2 per gal. for premium now!]in efforts to make sure everyone gets some gasoline.

Please tell me how you feel about water sales. I was one of those who had to go out and buy bottled water from people who had beaten me to the stores to buy it. I saw gallon jugs of distilled water going for 5 bucks and up! I paid 3, but it took some searching.

Evan,

"I think it's wrong to eat cheese."

Congratulations?

Micha,

Do you HAVE to have an argument against the gouging critics? It is Florida, they will have supplies coming in again.

Alex,

"WWB you are the most incompetent debater I've seen."

Oh God. I hope I don't lose my gig as commenter on my own personal thoughts and student of the world.

Qwest - that is exactly what

Qwest - that is exactly what will happen if the Gov't decides to impose price controls. Many owners will wait until the "state of emergency" is over to sell their stuff, in the face of impending shortages. Or they will run out. Or find ways to bundle their goods, effectively raising the price anyway. (like, Chainsaw:$500 Chain:$50)
Owners with lesser quality goods will enter the market to sell their shoddy stuff at the government mandated price ceiling.

You get what you pay for...

"We need to make your

"We need to make your example more similar to the real-life Hurricane event--

Let's say you are a merchant and have only ONE bottle of water left to sell."

Huh? I thought you wanted to give a realistic example. I would assume that most stores have more than one bottle. I would also assume that stores can order more. I think the most moral thing to do would be to sell it at the lowest amount possible, even at break even, and to limit the number of bottles per costumer to prevent hording, so that the supply will last until the next shipment.

Yes, I'm sure that even some

Yes, I'm sure that even some of the people in the area of the hurricane could indeed benefit from gouging.

How so?

- "Huh? I thought you wanted

- "Huh? I thought you wanted to give a realistic example. I would assume that most stores have more than one bottle."

I was obviously giving an extreme example, but the idea behind is still the same: Demand just shot through the roof, and supply on-hand (comparatively speaking) is incredibly too low to handle it at the CURRENT price.

- "I would also assume that stores can order more."

To arrive when? I'm no expert in distribution and logistics management, but I would guess that ordering a sudden shipment of anything - with transport from vender to trucking company to distribution house to store - would take a bit longer than an a day or two. Especially since this isn't a store-specific shortage, but a regional shortage.

- "I think the most moral thing to do would be to sell it at the lowest amount possible, even at break even, and to limit the number of bottles per customer to prevent hording, so that the supply will last until the next shipment."

Not a bad idea and that's certainly your choice as a private business owner. I suppose you'd have to have someone policing the customers as they exit the store with 2 bottles, put it in the trunk, come back into the store, get in line, buy 2 more (repeat process). Or a family of eight, with each family member getting into a separate line with 2 bottles each. Clever stuff like that.

Mongoose, Assume you are a

Mongoose,

Assume you are a store owner along the eastern seaboard, Earl is looking like it will be a major hurricane that will hit land right near your community. It is still 3 days out. Further you are aware that city water systems and electricity will be out for several days. Therefore you know that demand for bottled water will drastically increase.

How do you get your suppliers to send the additional water within the next day?

Where do you put the extra water? What do you do with less needful inventory to make space for the bottled water?

How do you make sure that storm damage is minimal and fixed quickly?

How do you open the store to sell the water?

Assuming that you are a very wealthy saint that is willing to absorb all the additional costs, do you tell the lady who's buying water for her 14 children that she's only allowed 3 bottles?

There is nothing wrong, in fact one might consider it virtuous, to give away or sell water below cost. But how is it wrong to increase the price to make sure that water goes to it's greatest need and cover additional costs?

How is it right to punish those who have the foresight to be prepared for the emergency? How is right to require a specific positive action at great cost to themselves?

somehow the idiocy of

somehow the idiocy of religious altruism and irrational socialism has convinced A LOT of people that business' are in business to 'help others'. you see it everywhere in 'social mission statements' blah blah thats in every quarterly report I read. It's ludicrous. i am in business for ME and for ME ONLY! period full stop. you cannot attach morality to that function of capitalism and to try to paint the motel owners as somehow less than vitruous is indicative of how far down the slope socialism/religion have shoved the debate.

I can see your point about

I can see your point about the incentive to keep chainsaws in stock for such times. But, Iâ??m still not seeing anyone mention the most basic needs items â?? such as water.

Exactly the same logic applies to water as to chainsaws. If you outlaw gouging, you remove the incentive to stockpile, so that less water will be available when it's most needed. For items as essential as water or food, the consequence of a prohibition of gouging could be famine, in extreme circumstances.

Someone else may have already made that point, but I turned my back for a few hours and a sedate thread of half a dozen posts mushroomed into one of nearly fifty.

My previous comment was my

My previous comment was my knee-jerk reaction, and posting it was clearly a mistake, so I'm actually laughing my ass off that two people have even bothered to comment on it so far...

But really. What do you have to base "fair", "moral", "noble", etc. upon, whether we're talking about pricing or anything else, other than personal aesthetics and appeals to authority?

Another thing - if pricing is fixed, the other way to maximize profits is to reduce costs. Often this is done by using cheaper materials, cutting the salary budget, etc., but it seems to me that one obvious way for makers of chainsaws, water bottles, etc. to control their costs is to get the hell out of hurricane zones. If you were a chainsaw seller, the only reason to stay anywhere near a place that's about to be hit by a natural disaster (a place that's about to become a lot more stressful, less comfortable, and filled with people whose disposable income in many cases has been suddenly and catastrophically reduced), or go back to said place anytime soon afterward, is the chance to make extra profit. Like Adam said, if you can't make more money selling in a disaster area, why not move your business somewhere more pleasant? Or should business be conducted purely as a public service to the customer, with no taint of self-interest?

Alex, "Or should business be

Alex,

"Or should business be conducted purely as a public service to the customer, with no taint of self-interest?"

Why shouldn't you be forced to serve the greater collective good?

JTK, I should be "forced" to

JTK,

I should be "forced" to serve the "greater good". We both know that the greatest good possible can only come from a free market. Right?

Had I had a less exhausting

Had I had a less exhausting day, I could rebuild upon the ruins of my previous post and answer JTK, for answers there are, but my brain and eyes are tired and hurting, so I'll just leave it that my crack about incompetent debating has come back around in a graceful loop and smacked me square in the face. :dunce:

"I should be â??forcedâ??

"I should be â??forcedâ?? to serve the â??greater good". We both know that the greatest good possible can only come from a free market. Right?"

How could we know that David, if ends and peferences are abitrary? If as egalitarians we decide that equal outcomes are the greatest good then no, the greater good cannot come from a free market. Equal outcomes can better be produced by compelling individuals to serve society.

All ends are not compatible and the subjectivists tell us that the choice between one end and another is simply an aesthetic choice.

Wouldnt it make more sense

Wouldnt it make more sense for an ethical store owner to just directly ration out the goods, and forgo the possible large profits

Mongoose - how can this store owner tell who has the greatest need? Since not all people are perfectly ethical, everyone has incentive to overrepresent their own need. If the store owner makes them "put their money where their mouth is", he can be sure that the supplies are going to those with the greatest need. Hence the "ethical" action might well be to jack up the prices!

Anton - I believe that the

Anton - I believe that the original situation for this adaptation was not a public good. I think the adaptation was made for one-on-one situations where an individuals demand is unexpectedly high. (we did not evolve in a complex economy. Hence the result is to get the other person not to raise their price - a totally private good.

Response to Patri, Aren't

Response to Patri,

Aren't you just confusing the common meaning of "demand" with the specialized economics meaning? "Ability to pay" cannot act in place of "greatest need" (in the ethical sense). Raising prices can only ensure that those with the willingness AND the ability to pay will obtain the goods. The people in that set may bear only tangential relation to those with the "greatest need".

JTK, Whether or not it is

JTK,

Whether or not it is misguided would depend entirely on one's arbitrary values, would it not? Economics can't tell you what your values ought to be, can it?

In this case, as in most others, those who support and oppose restrictions on price gouging share certain values. Nobody likes shortages and nobody likes allocating resources to those who don't value them as much as other people. Thus, when I say it is misguided, I am claiming that it is misguided according to the critics' own values.

Mongoose,

Isn't a hurricane a big enough signal that demand will be bigger than supply? We are not talking about a normal circumstance. This is an emergency where everyone knows demand will be at an extreme high

A hurricase is a signal, but it is not the kind of signal that can coordinate complex human interaction in the economic sense. A hurricane indicates that demand will probably increase. But it tells us nothing about how much demand will increase, how much we need to increase supply to meet the rise in demand, how we know when to stop increasing supply because other producers have already entered the market or increased their current production. It also tells us nothing about how much consumers might already have stockpiled, how much retailers might already have stockpiled, what kinds of goods consumers actually need, etc.

Wouldn't it make more sense for an ethical store owner to just directly ration out the goods, and forgo the possible large profits. Thereby allowing people who canâ??t easily afford it to get the essential supplies too? Do you think this kind of scalping in an emergency situation is ethical? What would you do?

Explicit rationing entails a number of problems. First of all, it doesn't solve the problem of arbitrage. Instead of the retailers raising prices, scalpers will purchase the products for resale and raise the prices themselves. Second, it doesn't solve the allocation problem. Those who don't really need the goods will still purchase them at the artificially low prices, and this risks depriving those who need the goods the most.

I can't speak to the ethics of the situation in general. I would frown on someone who charged a million dollars for a bottle of water to a man stranded in the desert. I would praise gas station owners who raise their prices at the onset of a blackout.

JustAVisitor,

While it is true that willingness to pay depends upon ability to pay, and thus does not perfectly measure true "need" (better to say "want") because of income inequality, this issue is best addressed either through private or public charity, and not through price fixing.

Micha, point taken. But if

Micha, point taken. But if that's the case there should be a law that *requires* people to raise prices! :grin:

Michi: "My original comment

Michi: "My original comment really had nothing whatsoever,actually, to do with legitimate shop keepers or business owners. Whilst my fingers were just flying away on the keyboard, I was really thinking back to the blackout of last year, and the people who raced off to the stores that were open as long as they had generator support and cleaned the shelves to set up â??shopâ?? on a street corner gallon jugs of water for 6 bucks, 50-cent candlesticks for $3.50. These people infuriate me."

It's quite possible that this situation is caused by either existing anti-gouging laws, or prediction by storeowners of some sort of quasi-legal backlash against gouging after things settle down. If Kroger sells bottled water for $6 a gallon they may end up losing all those profits and then some in legal actions later, so they let the shelves get cleared at 99 cents a gallon. No one remembers who the guy on the street corner was later, and he probably doesn't have assets or a business license to lose.

In essense, the transaction has been driven onto the black or grey markets, with all the risks normally associated with that. For example, unlike Kroger, Mr. street-corner-vendor may be bottling unhealthy water when he runs out of the good stuff, and you will never have any recourse if that happens.

If after a state of

If after a state of emergency is declared, following devastating weather and/or let's say a terrorist attack for instance -- said business wants to raise the price of its now urgently needed chain saws to 3X the national average; arrest the bastards, fine them, hang them, shoot them, burn them on a cross -- I don't care which.

Thereby destroying any incentive for the business to keep a stockpile of chain saws, which could only be sold profitably at a high price when there is a surge in demand. The consequence of such a law would be fewer chain saws available just when they are needed most.

Roderick T. Long had a good

Roderick T. Long had a good post at Liberty & Power that might help the economically uninformed:

http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/6800.html

Michi, Do you think

Michi,

Do you think "gouging" has any benefits for people in the area where the hurricane hit?

Sad, that the state feels

Sad, that the state feels the need to regulate the relative "worth" of consumer goods and services in the wake of "tragedy". Is it not already doing enough by using our tax dollars to bail out the various idiots who decided to build their dream house (or dream mobile home) in Hurricane alley? "It's a state of emergency!" And, of course, the reason why people continue building their flimsy habitats in the path of recurrent destruction is precisely because the government will be there to funnel taxpayer dough into their pockets afterwards. Then the state has the nerve to enact "mandatory" evacs. What's the point? Why not just tell people "fuck off, if you stay here and get hurt, we're not going to be here to bail you out"?

WWB, By boosting prices of

WWB,

By boosting prices of generators, the following would happen:

Those who have options to drive a few hours and stay with friends would be disinterested in paying the extra amount. Those who aren't in the direct path of the hurricane would also be hesitant to buy. Those who already have a generator, but would simply like a backup unit just in case their current one 'quits' would have second thoughts.

Meanwhile, those with no other options, no current generator, and are directly in the storm's path would have a supply available to them.

The one thing to remember here is that x product is not infinite. Wouldn't you favor those who absolutely need that product have access to it?

Here is a personal example:

I live an area that was affected by the August 2003 blackout. As poor timing would have it, I had about 1/8 of a tank of gas in my car. So I decided that I could really use a little more fuel. Even just a 1/2 tank would suffice. So I went outside the county to find a gas station.

Nevertheless, I sat in a very long line while large SUVs and trucks in front of me not only filled their tanks to the absolute brim, but also filled multiple portable red gas cans as well. Despite news reports indicating that power would likely be restored within 2 days, some appeared to be guzzling up for the apocalypse. Not only did this cause 1-2 hour lines, but gas stations in smaller towns - like the one I was at - were drying up. They surely didn't plan on having a large stock of gasoline on hand as the blackout hit. This is a problem that a $2.25/gallon price could've eliminated.

But there was nothing discouraging customers to ration or make wise decisions at $1.50 (or whatever it was), since gas stations were pressured into keeping their prices constant or risk a hefty fine. So what little fuel these stations had available were being gobbled up by those who could have gone with less, or without.

WriteWingBlogger: Oh,

WriteWingBlogger:

Oh, because you say it's wrong, then, the government should outlaw it. Hmmmm. You know, I think it's wrong to eat cheese. Therefore, using your logic, the government should outlaw cheese consumption.

Adjusting price to correspond with demand, regardless of the "tragedy" or whatever else may have caused the spike in demand, cannot simply be dismissed as "wrong". Nobody is forcing anybody to purchase a chainsaw at a certain price. If nobody is willing to pay a certain price, then the seller will be forced to lower the price. Let's look at it this way:

It's a nice day, no bad weather, life is good. A guy has a tree in his backyard he wants to cut up for firewood. Sure, he doesn't need the chaiinsaw all that much, but it's only $100 at the hardware store. His relative desire for the product is low at this point, but $100 is also relatively inexpensive.

But then, a hurricane comes through, and he needs a chainsaw much more now than he did beforehand. His desire (demand) for the product has gone up. Should he still pay the same amount, even though his demand is much higher?

If not, then let's remove ourselves from the "tragedy". Let's say a certain pair of nike sneakers is very popular with schoolkids. Demand goes up. Is it "gouging" if retailers adjust their prices to reflect demand? No, of course not. It happens all the time. The more popular something becomes, the more the price typically goes up.

So then, all we're left with is this notion of emergency. Who MADE these people build their house in the path of recurrent destruction? Nobody. Who forced them to take the risk? Nobody. So, then, all the deaths and destroyed property is nobody's fault but their own. If you fail to do a risk assessment before building/purchasing a house in a coastal region, then it is your own foolish fault. :dunce:

Hurricane charley didn't create this "emergency". All the fools who decided to build/buy/live in hurricane alley did.

Speaking as someone who has

Speaking as someone who has little/no understanding of even basic economic principles and/or libertarianism -- and who also believes Neal Boortz sucks eggs;

If a business wants to sell chain saws in Florida for 3X the national average all year long -- I have no problem with that.

If after a state of emergency is declared, following devastating weather and/or let's say a terrorist attack for instance -- said business wants to raise the price of its now urgently needed chain saws to 3X the national average; arrest the bastards, fine them, hang them, shoot them, burn them on a cross -- I don't care which.

It's just so wrong to profit excessively from such, that I don't care whose principles it offends to punish someone willing to do so.

Because it's really your

Because it's really your stuff, not their's, right?

Strictly playing devil's

Strictly playing devil's advocate, there is a legal doctrine called unconscionablity that could (emphasize, could) render gouging contracts invalid, in which case Boortz' argument totally falls apart.
:stupid:

On the other hand, unconscionability usually requires some form of asymmetrical or incomplete information (as opposed to asymmetrical bargaining power). "Big wind come this way!" would seem to negate that notion.:shock:

It's an analysis that every first-law law student has to slog his way through -- what should "unconscionable" mean and should gouging count? I'm totally in the libertarian camp, but that doesn't mean you can simply wish away the doctrine.

Because it's really your

Because it's really your stuff, not their's, right? ~J.T.

No, J.T. -- because it's *wrong* -- and if you want to debate the meaning of the word wrong today, you'll have to find someone else to play that game.

Strictly playing devil's

Strictly playing devil's advocate, there is a legal doctrine called unconsionability that could(emphasize, could)render gouging contracts invalid, in which case Boortz' argument totally falls apart.~KipEsquire

HOORAY!:grin:

As far as the 'big wind comes this way' -- that hardly seems adequate to describe a category 4 hurricane that causes so much destruction and the deaths to date of 19 people, leaving the region in a state of emergency. You think?

~Michi

This thread is also a great

This thread is also a great demonstration of why JTK's method of argument (and by extension, Billy Beck's) is pointless. Those who aren't already libertarians could care less whether the hardware store vendor "owns" his chainsaws, or whether the chainsaws should be subject to government fiat in times of emergency. Which reminds me: absent economics, an Objectivist could always use Ayn Rand's cheap excuse, "natural rights don't apply in times of emergency." If you are going to be a fundamentalist Objectivist, at least stick to your own principles. It's the only thing you have going for you, and that's not saying much.

So if we reject economics as besides the point (and this rejection can easily follow from pure natural rights principles, as we have seen), we have no argument against the "gouging" critics. But with economics, even those who don't believe in the sanctity of private property rights can understand why price controls and prohibitions on "gouging" actually harm the very people we are trying to help, and achieve the perverse consequence of expanding shortages rather than diminishing them.

"No, J.T. -- because it's

"No, J.T. -- because it's wrong - and if you want to debate the meaning of the word wrong today, you'll have to find someone else to play that game."

WWB, you are the most incompetent debater I've ever seen. :lol:

Oh, and by the way, no, it's not wrong.

Contrast Doug Allen's post

Contrast Doug Allen's post above with Evan Williams'. I agree entirely with both, but which one will be quickly dismissed as the rantings of a selfish, evil right-wing extremist and which one might actually have a chance of influencing someone's opinion?

Alex, Michi (WWB) is not the

Alex,

Michi (WWB) is not the most incompetent debater you've ever seen. JTK made precisely the same argument in this thread: both are claiming that "X is wrong, period." You just happen to agree with JTK, so you probably don't notice that when he writes, "[I]t's not your property, it's theirs. And that means they're entitled to dispose of it as they see fit," it's just as convincing--and by that I mean just as unconvincing--as Michi's argument that "It's just so wrong to profit excessively from such, that I don't care whose principles it offends to punish someone willing to do so."

The arguments are completely identical. They are arguments from emotion, based on unempirical moral intuitions. That is not to say they are wrong. We all have emotions, and we like to express them.

When these kinds of beliefs conflict, the disagreement cannot be resolved through any rational means. Either you believe in the absolute sanctity of private property (and even then, there are questions), or you don't. And then all you have is a childish yelling match: "No, you're wrong. No, YOU'RE WRONG! Oh yeah? Well you're Evil!" Etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum.

Micha, Regarding your

Micha,

Regarding your complaint that the Constitution does not guarantee a freedom of contract: the Constitution exists to protect the people from the government. It bestows certain powers to Congress, and the BoR restricts it from infringing upon other rights.

Which is to say, the foundation of the republic is negative rights, not positive rights. The Constitution does not exist to guarantee me certain freedoms. For example, the Constitution does not explicitely say that I have the right to keep a 3-legged dog in a room with blue walls, does it? But do I have that right? Of course, because the Constitution does not give Congress the power to regulate 3-legged dogs or wall colors in my house.

Micha, "This thread is also

Micha,

"This thread is also a great demonstration of why JTK's method of argument (and by extension, Billy Beck's) is pointless. Those who aren't already libertarians could care less whether the hardware store vendor 'owns' his chainsaws, or whether the chainsaws should be subject to government fiat in times of emergency. Which reminds me: absent economics, an Objectivist could always use Ayn Rand's cheap excuse, "natural rights don't apply in times of emergency." If you are going to be a fundamentalist Objectivist, at least stick to your own principles."

You're the one claiming those are my principles, not me. I say Rand was wrong about emergencies.

"But really. What do you

"But really. What do you have to base "fair", "moral", "noble", etc. upon, whether we're talking about pricing or anything else, other than personal aesthetics and appeals to authority?"

Or rape or robbery, murder or genocide, slavery or torture...

Nothing but personal aesthetics really.

Who could doubt that liberal philosophy will thrive once such fanciful notions as "fair", "moral, and "noble" are properly laid to rest?

WWB says "No, J.T. --

WWB says "No, J.T. -- because it's wrong -- and if you want to debate the meaning of the word wrong today, you'll have to find someone else to play that game."

Short summary of the above
- it's wrong because it's wrong (circularity)
- I won't debate wrong (complete foreclosure of the argument)

So, no, it's not wrong. Shall we talk about what's wrong? How about, making people who really want that chainsaw - say, to reopen their blocked-in business, or rescue their trapped family - wait in line behind somebody who just wants to trim a tree in his backyard. Waiting in line is the certain result of forcing prices low when demand is high.

Micha, " When these kinds of

Micha,

" When these kinds of beliefs conflict, the disagreement cannot be resolved through any rational means. "

Is that objectively true, or merely your subjective belief?

Why couldn't one of us be right about the matter in dispute? You seem to think you're right - that morality is subjective. If you are objectively right about that then shouldn't there be a way for me to be persuaded of that objective truth too?

It's not a moral offense to

It's not a moral offense to have your comment system mangle comments, but it sure makes the threads a chore to read.

Micha, Why is Catallarchy

Micha,

Why is Catallarchy dedicated to a countenance of individualist ethics?

Who came up with the dedication anyway?

Those entrepeneurs who guess

Those entrepeneurs who guess that people will be willing to pay more after a hurricane must get those supplies and face increased overhead prior to the storm. There were a few store owners in the peninsula area of Virginia who stocked up previous to the fall '03 hurricane, including extra preperations so that they could be open immediately after the storm. These store owners raised prices slightly right before and right after the storm (10-20% iirc). They have since been fined and told not to do it again. They have been punished for having the foresight to carry additional inventory, running a generator, and otherwise take on additional costs to be open and have goods to sell. Guess what? Their plans now are to only protect the building and inventory and open much later after the storm. Moreover, other potential entrepeneurs who might have seen an opportunity to bring in more stuff now know to stay clear.

It is simple supply and demand, except that most people forget that there is a time component. Over time increased demand (of produceable) goods leads to lower prices. Why? In the very near term prices rise, entrepeneurs see a chance for profit and begin increasing supply. With the time period between increased demand and increased supply rapidly decreasing, allowing "gouging" will actually eliminate the ability of store owners to gouge. By allowing gouging I'd expect that after a few more storms stores will be open through the storm and have clearance sales the day after.

generally speaking, i

generally speaking, i thought i was in business for myself, not the good of others. i guess all these years i've been laboring under that crazy assumption. oh well.

Mongoose, I understand that

Mongoose,

I understand that you have a strong moral intuition about what the right thing for a store owner to do is.

I wonder...What's the right thing for you to do about starving people in the world right now? Do you think that the same answer applies to everyone? Do you think people should be free to disagree about things like that (and act according to their own conclusions), or do you think that somebody's (or perhaps the majority's) moral intuition should be imposed on individuals?

Is the price-gouging-law issue morally different somehow?

the gains or lack of gains

the gains or lack of gains are immaterial. its ridiculous that these business owners are painted as less than virtuous and are targets for lawyers and thier socialist minions. its thier store, thier products, thier ABSOLUTE RIGHT to do as they wish without being forced to 'help others'. what if i own a store and hate everyones guts in the area? why should i subsidize them? what if one of them is lying on the ground with a punctured kidney. should i be forced to give up my kidney at a 'fair price' to save them? its no different. this insane smug morality play against a perfectly moral activity is why i can barely watch CNN or even more repugnant, the CBC.

To whoever asked about

To whoever asked about contracts and the constitution â??

No State shall . . . pass any . . . Law impairing
the Obligation of Contracts . . . .

US Constitution article I section 10.