Yesterday, Gov. Perdue declared a state of emergency on the North Carolina coast, which automatically triggered the states price-gouging law. Attorney General Cooper said, Were warning price gougers that you cant use a storm as an excuse to make an unfair profit off of consumers. Anyone who was in Charlotte after Hurricane Hugo hit remembers the stories of people having to pay exploitative hustlers ten bucks for a bottle of water, a hundred dollars for a flashlight, a thousand for a small chain saw, or up to five thousand for a generator.
So a law against price-gouging is a good thing, right? Protecting ordinary people from predators and so forth, its all good, right? In normal times you would think so. But these are far from normal times, and free-market fundamentalists are in full roar. They believe any restrictions on business are evil even apparently, restrictions on business practices that ruthlessly take advantage of others misery. No, we're not kidding.
As BlueNC reminds us today, the Ayn Rand-worshipping ideologues at Raleighs John Locke Foundation think that banning price-gouging is a terrible restriction on business transactions. Again, no, were not kidding, and unfortunately, neither are the Lockers. Their reasoning? Higher prices encourage conservation just when it's needed the most," and In terms of public welfare and social order, it is important to allow the price system to work freely during times of natural disasters and emergencies. Great God Almighty, what is wrong with people like that? Ive heard of, and met, people whose devotion to their ideology was so strong it blinded them to common sense; but, saying that letting scumbags take advantage of people after a natural disaster is just off the charts.