Anti-Gouging Laws Must Be Expanded in Scope.

While everyone understands that it should be illegal for gas stations to charge more than enough to realize a reasonable profit over the prior cost of filling the gas station's underground tank, that's by far not the most egregious gouging going on.

If you and your next door neighbor have identical houses and both want to sell, what prices should you both ask?

Your neighbor bought his house last year, from your previous neighbor, for $400,000, and asking $500,000 for it today seems reasonable, yielding a nominal 25% profit.

You, on the other hand, bought your house 15 years ago when it was newly constructed for $80,000. Clearly, you must be prevented from gouging a prospective buyer by asking more than $100,000. Fair is fair. If people don't act fairly on their own, that's where government is required to act.

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I've been wondering about

I've been wondering about something: If a gas station owner decided to implement a policy of selling each gallon of gas at, say, a 20% markup over what he paid for it, how many of these anti-gouging crusaders would reward him by buying from him at above-market prices when the crisis ended and wholesale prices returned to normal?

In an NPR story this past

In an NPR story this past Saturday, the term "price gouging" was used in reference to housing prices in Baton Rouge, LA. According to the story, Baton Rouge has become a boom town as former New Orleans residents seek new housing and are willing to engage in bidding wars against multiple potential buyers.

Why does rationality fly out

Why does rationality fly out the window when people think about oil companies? The relevant measure of profitability is return on investment, and the oil industry is only middling in that respect over the long haul--though it is cyclical. No one mourns the producers, refiners, distributors, and gas station owners during their periodic bust years. From time to time the industry has good years, sometimes very good years. So what? Google's return on investment has been many times Exxon's; why not punish Google, and all the other companies that have done as well as, or better than, the energy companies? Dumb question, I know, thought I'd ask anyway.

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So, will it also be

So, will it also be considered gouging if PACs supporting anit-gouging laws accept more in contributions than they need to fund their lobbying efforts?