Today’s “On Point” by Vincent Carroll is priceless: he highlights a Colorado Democrat legislator who has introduced a bill that reveals some combination of total economic illiteracy, shameless populist pandering, and/or a statist thirst for destructive power. Out of deference and good will, we will presume the motive to be the first.
From Carroll’s piece:
There are knavish corporations in our fair land who raise and lower prices according to the available supply of their product and in response to public demand. This is an intolerable state of affairs. And Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden, knows exactly what to do about the practice. Outlaw it.
Her House Bill 1251 defines price-gouging in essential goods and services as “a price increase at least 10 percent greater than the average price for the good or service charged by the seller . . . during the 30 days immediately prior to the formal declaration of the emergency.”
What kind of emergency? A “natural disaster,” of course, but also – and here’s the part to warm the heart of any demagogic politician – any other “circumstance or event that is formally declared to be an emergency by federal or state authorities.”
A few other wrinkles grace this bill, including a definition of a product’s reasonable cost that might have been written by any first-grade class in Green’s district. Also of course the punishment for violators: a fine of up to $10,000 a day as well as restitution “to aggrieved consumers.”
Naturally, nowhere in the bill is there so much as a hint of recognition that government-imposed price controls create shortages and aggravate existing ones – and have since the dawn of the centralized state.
O Exxon, what fits of political delusion your profits now provoke!
Price-gouging? Looks more like brain-gouging to me. And from a Democrat official who narrowly won an election last time around and is setting herself up to be a surefire candidate to go down in political history as a “one-termer.”
Will the legislative majority party be able to resist and restrain Rep. Green with some sound, election-year discipline? Or will the Dems throw common sense and good economic policy to the wind for the chance to flirt with the mighty populist soapbox?
Maybe we aren’t spending enough money on education… for certain legislators to learn basic economics.