All too often, government is the problem rather than the solution in catastrophic situations such as Superstorm Sandy.
Superstorm Sandy caused widespread damage to the state of New Jersey, causing gasoline stations to either have their tanks inundated with water or not be able to sell gas because they have no electrical power to pump it. I’m sure you have seen pictures of the people waiting in long lines of cars just to fill up their tanks, with people even getting to the point of violence against others for cutting in line.
These problems are caused in part, if not in whole, by laws prohibiting price gouging in emergencies. These laws, however well intentioned, actually do more harm than good and handcuff the impressive power of free enterprise that could come to the rescue.
If gasoline stations were allowed in an emergency to charge what the market would bear, prices would rise and people who merely wanted to top off their tanks would wait. Gasoline stations without power would have an incentive to hire generators and sell gas.
Entrepreneurs would hire gasoline trucks and sell gas in the same manner as airplanes are filled at some airports. Anyone who didn’t want to pay the higher prices would not be required to buy gas.
They could find other ways to get to work or get their kids to school such as riding with others. This would lower demand even more and eventually lower prices and solve the problem.
Entrepreneurs are constantly looking for needs so they can fill them. This is why we recently saw food trucks wanting to come into Auburn.
Unfortunately, the City Council of Auburn bowed to pressure from business owners and enacted protectionist laws that will harm Auburn in the long run.
Whenever business competition is artificially regulated, the consumer will be harmed, either through higher prices or fewer choices.
As a society we must continually be on guard against enacting laws that prohibit freedom, including freedom to earn a living and earn money, start a business and compete against the Good ol’ boys, and not have government to dictate and decide who can make a living and who cannot.
Capitalism provides the best for the least, but businesses who are not willing to change with the times will eventually suffer a slow, agonizing death.
Competition is the equal playing field and provides the most for the least. In the end, it is capitalism that will feed the babies rather than government control that, however well-intentioned, causes famine.
Robert Vaughan, Auburn