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Williams: Posturing on 'price gouging'

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Here’s a which-is-better question for you. Suppose a New Jersey motel room rented for $125 a night prior to Hurricane Sandy’s devastation. When the hurricane hits, a husband, wife and their two youngsters might seek the comfort of renting two adjoining rooms. However, when they arrive at the motel, they find that rooms now rent for $250. At that price, they might decide to make do with one room.

In my book, that would be wonderful. That decision would make a room available for another family who had to evacuate Sandy’s wrath. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others condemn this as price gouging, but I ask you: Which is preferable for a family seeking shelter — a room available at $250 or a room unavailable at the pre-hurricane price of $125?

Christie told merchants that price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal because “during emergencies, New Jerseyans should look out for each other — not seek to take advantage of each other.” Christie warned: “The state Division of Consumer Affairs will look closely at any and all complaints about alleged price gouging.

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Price Gouging

And suppose the power was out at the motel. The owner might stay and still provide accommodation if he could get double the usual rate. Residents of high crime areas deal with "price gouging" every day. Merchants faced with the risk of robbery and injury demand a higher return for higher risk. And that is completely understandable. Maybe Governor Christie should have encouraged residents of nearby areas to fill up gas cans and bring them to the disaster zone and sell the gas for whatever they can get for it. What's better - gas for $10 a gallon, or no gas for $3 a gallon?

In defense of Christie and Schneiderman

I want to take exception to Dr William's characterization of the New Jersey governor and the New York DA as wily politicians pandering to the ignorant for political gain. I think they are themselves, in fact, truly ignorant of economic reality and that is why they pander to the 47%. After two generations of education dominated by progressives (i.e., retrogressives) which education itself panders to the lowest common denominator, most of whom did not learn any useful skills in their school years, we have reached the point where economic ignorance is self-sustaining. Takers teach takers that there is an entitlement to being supported by the "government." They are of course too ignorant to understand that it is the makers who pay all of the bills, and that when and if they destroy this enemy the result is both actual and cultural bankruptcy. Get used to the darkness after a storm.

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