Watching NC14 News just now I saw the obligatory “gas price-gouging” story. The reporter was standing at a station that was selling gas for $4.79 per gallon and the place was empty. Then he showed one selling it for $3.68 and the line went down the street. Most of its tanks were empty, one gas buyer said.
Then they cut to Attorney General Roy Cooper who, when asked what price gouging was, he replied, “you know it when you see it.” Question: If the guy selling gas for $4.79 had no customers (and even if he did, no one was holding a gun to any buyer’s head) how is he gouging anyone? It never occurred to the reporter (who didn’t bother to ask) or Cooper (who should know better) that perhaps the station manager selling gas for $4.79 was doing it to maintain supply for the time when everyone else runs out.
In any case, what business is it of the state’s if gas sellers and buyers decide voluntarily on a price agreeable to each? If no one wants to buy at a high price, the seller loses money or goes out of business. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
But not many politicians can resist a chance to demagogue.
UPDATE: Thunder Pig points out that Gov. Mike Easley’s decision that gas prices shouldn’t rise more than 20 cents per gallon, and his directing of Cooper to enforce price-gouging laws, is hardly the answer to the problem:
What Governor Easley has instructed the Attorney General to do is immoral, and potentially more damaging to the economy than the idiots who flooded the gas stations Thursday, Friday and into Saturday.
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