Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 24, 2006 / 26 Iyar, 5766

Mississippi has a place for heroes: Jail

By John Stossel


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | John Sheperson is a hero. When Hurricane Katrina struck, he turned on the news and learned that people in Mississippi had lost electric power. They desperately needed generators. He decided to help them, while helping himself.


He borrowed money, bought 19 generators, rented a U-Haul and drove it 600 miles to Mississippi, where he offered to sell the generators for twice what he paid for them. Eager buyers surrounded his truck. "People were excited," he said.


So did the generators go to hospitals? To nursing homes? Did they save lives? Did Mississippi officials give Sheperson a medal?


Nope. Instead, they locked him up — and his generators, too.


"Nobody got any use out of them," said Sheperson.


After Katrina, Jim Hood, Mississippi's attorney general, launched a crusade against "price gouging." "For people to take advantage of those in need," he said, "violates every biblical standard of morals that I'm aware of."


The Bible does say, "Give to him that asketh," and if Sheperson had donated those 19 generators and had hauled them down to Mississippi as an act of charity, it would have been fine with Jim Hood. But the attorney general considers making a profit by selling to the desperate at so-called "gouging" prices immoral and illegal.


But making money isn't evil, it's good. Modern life is made possible by people working to make money. And making a profit by "taking advantage" of people in need by meeting their needs is even better.


Today we hear about "gouging" at the gas pump. But it's simple supply and demand. Those "greedy" oil companies don't search for oil and drill for it out of the kindness of their hearts. They do it to make money, just like John Sheperson. The hope of fat profits is what motivates them to take risks to find new sources of oil to meet our energy needs. If companies think the government will "cap" prices to keep profits "fair," they would have little incentive to take the risk.

Donate to JWR


"Gouging" prices are made possible by extraordinary need — by times when people decide that it's so important to get a generator that they're willing to pay twice the normal price. This free trade makes both parties better off, or they wouldn't agree to it: Taking advantage of someone's extreme need means meeting someone's extreme need and getting fairly compensated for the unusual effort you had to make in order to do it.


George Mason University economist Russ Roberts points out that if sellers don't raise prices after a disaster, supplies vanish. Anxious buyers often buy more than they need, just in case. Those not at the front of the line may get nothing. "How do you solve that problem? And how do you find out who should get those scarce items?"


One way is rationing — have the government decide who gets what. Another way is to make people wait in long lines and let patience and luck determine who gets the goods.


But the best way is to give the items to those who are willing to pay higher prices. It's best because it directs supplies to those who need them most and because it inspires more people to take the risks John Sheperson took, or invest in finding new sources of (or replacements for) oil. "High prices are good because what they do is they give people — and companies — the incentive to bring supply in ... and help people in the time of crisis. Without that price increase, who has the incentive to bear the risk of stocking up to take care of people?" said economist Roberts.


You may not believe me or Roberts when we say "gouging" is good, but will you believe three Nobel Prize-winning economists? Nobel Laureate (1992) Gary Becker says "gouging" is the "fairest and best" way to get supplies to those who need them the most. "That's a good thing," added Vernon Smith (2002). And Milton Friedman (1976)?


"The 'gougers' deserve a medal."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JUST OUT FROM STOSSEL
Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel --- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong  

Stossel mines his 20/20 segments for often engaging challenges to conventional wisdom, presenting a series of "myths" and then deploying an investigative journalism shovel to unearth "truth." This results in snappy debunkings of alarmism, witch-hunts, satanic ritual abuse prosecutions and marketing hokum like the irradiated-foods panic, homeopathic medicine and the notion that bottled water beats tap. Stossel's libertarian convictions make him particularly fond of exposes of government waste and regulatory fiascoes. Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.


Archives

© 2006, by JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles