Why Flexible Disaster Pricing is Necessary

Take a look at the displayed picture and tell me what you see.

My understanding is that this is from a Walmart in Florida, where Hurricane Irma is expected to hit. Let’s assume that’s true for the sake of argument.

Is this person being responsible?

For starters, why is she still in Florida? It seems to me like the most responsible thing you can do is leave. And there’s plenty of water elsewhere.

But more, how is it she’s able to purchase so much water? Because the government has made it illegal to price emergency goods according to supply and demand.

When sellers of these much-needed goods do raise their prices, they’re attacked as “price gougers” and, it is claimed, they are doing it for the windfall, to profit off of the plight of others.

But what’s happening here if not a person receiving a windfall, profiting off of the plight of others?

She’s able and willing to purchase so much water because the price is being held down by government. What happens when the next person arrives, in arguably more desperate need than her for water, and its all gone?

If the price were set by a computer to prevent a shortage, everyone who needed water would find it available. Nobody, without having to spend an arm and a leg, would be able to buy so much for themselves. They’d be forced, par circumstance, to economize, and everyone who needed water would get it, either with the current supply or with the forthcoming supply by further away enterprising individuals.

This person probably feels giddy over the windfall she is receiving; how fortunate she is that so much is currently available to her. Shouldn’t that be viewed as just as “greedy” is the price gougers? Maybe I can think of a name for this behavior…

I got it: plight gougers.

Save as PDFPrint

Written by 

Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.

Notify of

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Thomas L. Knapp
Thomas L. Knapp
5 years ago

“For starters, why is she still in Florida? It seems to me like the most responsible thing you can do is leave.” I’m not sure if all of those carts are hers. Looks like $40-50 worth of water per cart. If all three carts ARE hers, $150 worth of water maybe. What if that’s all the money she has? So, she has maybe two tanks of gas and one night in a cheap hotel there. If she can find a hotel room within the range of two tanks of gas. And if her car is reliable enough to count on… Read more »

5 years ago

That store should set a limit on the amount of water one person can purchase during a disaster. Then no price gouging is necessary and others can still buy water.

Thomas L. Knapp
Thomas L. Knapp
5 years ago

I comment more extensively on this piece on my podcast at: