Now that Chris Christie has dared to show what used to be the standard amount of deference and respect due to the office of the president, the right wing has pounced on him like Rush Limbaugh on a Dominican hooker. The latest complaint is that he is not allowing oil companies to take advantage of New Jersey’s misfortune and charge whatever they want in storm-stricken neighborhoods filled with desperate people. There are long lines, you see, ever so long lines of people waiting for gasoline, and Chris Christie could fix these long lines if he just let gas stations charge, say, $20 per gallon. Why is Chris Christie a mean man that hates price gouging and by extension, capitalism?
Desperate New Jersey drivers wait in long lines to buy gasoline. One line was two miles long. The media blame “a lack of electricity” and report that “Governor Christie has acted to boost supplies of gasoline…by directing Treasury officials to waive licensing requirements that affect merchants’ ability to buy fuel from out-of-state suppliers.”
How can we fix these long, long lines? Easy, just like every problem on earth, it can be solved through the unrestrained free market. No need for regulation; just let gas stations charge whatever they want, it will solve itself and work itself out.
Christie would help more if he could suspend New Jersey’s foolish law forbidding price increases of more than 10% during an “emergency,” and if he’d apologize for bragging that the state will crack down on price “gouging!”
What politicians call “gouging” is just the free market. When markets are allowed to work their magic, lines disappear… If gas stations could raise prices, many of those drivers would wait, and drive less. Drivers who really need gas would be able to get it. At the same time, entrepreneurs would rush gasoline to gas stations that have the highest prices. The lines would quickly vanish, and prices would come back down.
The piece goes on and on like that, explaining how we could all benefit if there were no state services after a hurricane, and the free market let small armies of private contractors charge whatever they want. That way, people who “need” things the most would use them, and there would be less long lines. We will just observe that it’s such a wild coincidence how the people who “need” things the most are always the people who happen to have money. Crazy, right? Like the people who “need” medical care — isn’t it funny how poor, uninsured people don’t seem to “need” medical care and rich, insured people do? And gas — surely all these people waiting in that two-miles-long line don’t NEED gas, do they? And while we’re at it, we could argue that the long lines are equal to a sort of “time gouging,” wherein people who are willing to stand in lines two miles long are probably the people who really need the gas. The time spent in line is probably as effective a deterrent to frivolous gas usage as high prices are, anyway, according to Fox News’ thinly supported “analysis.” But we at Wonkette only would argue something like that because we’re probably communists.