by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
I’ve written often about the problems of North Carolina’s anti–price gouging law, which is one of those laws that sounds good but has bad unintended consequences. At worst, what we wind up with is the same low pre-disaster price of gas and water, but no gas and water to be found.
At which point the “fair” price doesn’t matter one bit. A government price ceiling creates a shortage.
In recent years, however, I’ve noticed another government approach to ensuring supplies of necessities during disasters that seems to actually help. It seems this government approach helps offset the bad effects of the anti–price gouging law.
What is it? It’s not something the government does; it’s something the government does less of.
The governor, by relaxing certain regulations, is able to lower the regulatory costs of providing necessities.
The forecast of Hurricane Florence for North Carolina is, at this writing, very bad. On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency (which is also a legal trigger for the anti–price gouging law). Cooper also issued an Executive Order temporarily suspending several truck driving, weight, size, etc. restrictions, registration requirements, and fines for utility service trucks and trucks carrying food and essential supplies.
Gov. Pat McCrory took this approach in 2016 and Cooper followed suit in 2017. It’s the right call.