Demands and Supply

A storm hits the east coast. Some homes are washed away. Others burn down. Millions lose power. Gasoline supplies are massively disrupted, even as mass transit is unusable for days.

Obviously, post-Hurricane Sandy, emergency measures are called for. It’s crucial, for instance, that the disrupted and reduced supplies of gasoline be gotten into the tanks of vehicles as inefficiently as possible, and by causing motorists to waste as much of their precious time as possible. Who but rational and well-informed persons could disagree?

To achieve this goal, rationing and laws against “price gouging” — in New Jersey, defined as adding more than ten percent to prices under normal conditions of supply and demand — come to the rescue! So Governor Chris Christie assures gas station owners that his government will “impose the strictest penalties on profiteers who . . . seek to capitalize on the misfortune of others in the midst of a crisis. . . .”

After all, what’s the alternative?

Well, it’s this: Let fuel prices rise to the height required to induce motorists who least urgently demand gas to give way to those who most urgently demand it. This would

  • shrink or prevent round-the-block gas lines;
  • encourage shipment of gas to those areas where prices have risen the highest, i.e., where gasoline is scarcest;
  • allow people to get back on their feet as quickly as possible by following their own best judgment in the face of local circumstances best known to themselves.

What do you call this strategy? Getting out of the way. Or laissez faire — but there’s nothing foreign about it. It used to be the American way.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Nov
    9
    9:51
    AM
    Brian Richard Allen

    …. What do you call this strategy? Getting out of the way. Or Laissez Faire — but there’s nothing foreign about it. It used to be the American way.

    ….This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob ….

    It is! And I thank G-d for you!

  2. Nov
    9
    11:34
    AM
    Drik

    In the midst of the plenty of the free market, the political panderers idealize the fixed price rationing system. Very few of the people living under the government store regemins of the Soviet Union or Cuba or other bastions of socialist infrastructure would not give up most of the their security for our surpluses in a minute. Yet we are about to structure our entire healthcare service into that exact sort of miserly regemin.

  3. Nov
    9
    11:43
    AM
    MoreFreedom

    Which just goes to show that Christie is a big government master, not a defender of freedom and free markets. This, in spite of his willingness to say the truth about previous governors and politicians. At least as it suits him.

  4. Nov
    10
    10:07
    AM
    JFB

    They all say that they support and believe in the free market, however they do not have sufficient faith to allow it to work. They are not believers at all, the are hypocrites seeking power and re-election.

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