Price Gouging Policy As Rendered in Everyday Politics

Michael Giberson

Way to go, Sen. Goss. Now grandma in Wilmington is gonna go three days without a flashlight ‘cuz you don’t understand basic economics.

That is the conclusion of a post on Carolina Politics Online about a proposal by North Carolina state senator Steve Goss to not limit the state’s price gouging law to periods of declared emergencies. According to an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times (no longer online) the proposal would turn the “state authorities who scrutinized gas prices during the shortage following Hurricane Ike [into] year-round watchdogs.”

Meanwhile, in neighboring Georgia, the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs took time out of a press release detailing progress on price gouging investigations to emphasize, “Absent a declared state of emergency, competition and demand drive prices in our free-market economy.”

(Of “more than 2,000 complaints or inquiries about price gouging or gas shortages,” arising during the post-Hurricane Ike supply problems, the office said, “as of May 15th, 91 cases have been resolved – 26 with a finding of no price gouging and 65 with a finding of price gouging.” Note that not all of the 2,000 “complaints or inquiries” necessarily resulted in an investigation.)

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