Log in

No account? Create an account

I got some gas yesterday

The gas shortage is still pretty bad here in Charlotte. Since the gas tank in my car is on the passenger side, waiting in a gas line is difficult. I need to go in a different direction from most of the other people.

Fortunately I was able to find a station the other day that, while it had lines at most of it's pumps, had one pump that was free. I was really lucky. There was a station a few blocks down that had lines out into the street.

Many blame the people who insist on topping off. There are two problems with this. First, there's no way to enforce a rule against that. You can limit how much people buy, but it would be a logistical nightmare to insist on looking at everyone's gas meter. The other problem is that topping off, while 'selfish', is perfectly prudent and reasonable behavior in a gas shortage. If you see an opportunity to get gas, you'll get as much as you possibly can because you don't know when you'll be able to buy gas again.

What this all leads me to is that laws against price gouging are insane. Sadly, they are very popular and a sure-fire political winner. Our governor knows that and is cracking down on it.

If stations could charge as much as they wanted to, people would not buy as much gas. It would help a lot with the topping off problem. Not only would there be a disincentive because of the price, but it would get rid of the positive incentive. If people aren't buying as much gas, you won't be as afraid that you won't have another chance to get it  yourself.

I understand that price demand for gas is not as elastic as say, the price of sugar. That doesn't mean it has 0 elasticity. People can find ways to avoid driving if gas is expensive enough. They can put off trips and outings. They can walk or bike when possible.

Another argument made for price gouging laws is that price gouging hurts the poor. I don't want to hurt the poor. But I don't see how  affordable gas helps the poor if there is none to be had.

Neal Boortz makes the case against price-gouging laws less politely but more colorfully than I just did in a recent Townhall column.


Yeah I gotta agree about putting gas in containers. A rule against those would be pretty easy to enforce.