by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
In Hurricane Michael’s destructive wake, media in Florida are warning to be on the lookout for price gougers.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has activated the state’s anti-“gouging” law, which bans pricing “essential commodities” at an amount that “grossly exceeds” their average prices. Those would be the average prices before, you know, a massive, localized disruption in their supply and demand.
Meanwhile, media are reporting on shortages in Florida as if those are solely the result of the storm and not from bad state policies that dissuade outsiders from taking any unusual step to bring essential supplies in.
A shortage is an inability to obtain a good, no matter the sticker price, because it has run out. You can’t buy what isn’t available.
Laws that forbid “price gouging” after a disaster are laws that encourage shortages of essential necessities. It’s an inescapable reality of a ill-conceived law, however compassionately meant. We’ve discussed that unintended bad consequence for years here at the John Locke Foundation.