Lucente’s Attempt to Justify Price-Gouging

Thomas Lucente In his Sunday column in the Lima News tried to sell his stale libertarian views with his usual ad hominem attacks and cherry-picked examples. He tries to justify the price gouging $99 cases of water after Hurricane Harvey as some stores trying to prevent hoarding. What $99 cases of water will do is ensure that the desperately poor who urgently need a case won’t be able to buy one, while it will do nothing to prevent the wealthy from hoarding them. If the stores truly want to prevent hoarding of cases of water, they should call up a local disaster relief agency and sell the cases to them at the usual price they bought them at. The disaster relief agency could then distribute the water to those who need it, rather than only to those who can afford it.

He tries further to claim that those high prices are necessary to bring in more cases of water. In fact the news contains stories of local soft drink companies changing their lines to bottling water instead of soda, not in pursuit of gouging people but out of humanitarian concern. But Lucente is blind to government or private humanitarian assistance because he has only one tool—the invisible hand of the market. And to a man with only a hammer even a screw looks like a nail.

Mr. Lucente might do well to read the newspaper he writes for—I refer to the article in the same Sunday edition by Lee Schroeder “Capitalism or price-gouging?” Mr. Schroeder points out that there is no federal law prohibiting price gouging (though our Senator, Sherrod Brown, has introduced one.) But many states, including Ohio have such laws, much I’m sure to Mr. Lucente’s disgust.