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The Government’s response to the Harvey floods: Do anti-gouging laws kill?

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While the magnitude of the epic flooding in southeastern Texas from Hurricane Harvey is only beginning to emerge, and is likely to get much worse over the next few days, it is not too early to consider with apprehension the responses by government at all levels.

Ronald Reagan taught us that perhaps nothing was more dangerous than the government official who said: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Will the authorities, at all levels, impose draconian “relief” measures? Will they ration various commodities like potable water? Or gasoline? Or even confiscate goods?

Recently, in 2012, the New Jersey coast and New York City suffered some of the worst flooding in years from the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. (That was the storm which led to President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie having that infamous arms-embracing stroll on the beach, only days before the presidential election.) The response from the blue-state, government-power-loving authorities was gasoline rationing which made gas shortages worse, the lines longer and general hardship even deeper.

From personal observation, it appears that rationing does little to reduce overall demand, the impulse to hoard, or the gross inefficiency caused by waiting hours for gas.

The logical first reaction is to get a full refill in order to wring as much inefficiency from the wait time. It may, over time, reduce the amount people drive — as social engineers rejoice! — because some people will weigh the costs and benefits of any car usage against the ultimate inconvenience of a wait.

But what of people in the suburbs or rural areas, or people whose job necessitates driving around? How much economic activity is lost — never to be regained? (Note that commercial vehicles are generally exempt, but many independent contractors drive personal, noncommercial vehicles for business use and are quite vulnerable to any rationing games).

Also consider whether such disasters and sure-to-be embellished shortages will be used by the environmental or behavioral zealots whose fingers are on the levers of government power, as “teachable moments.”

As in: disasters are always a good excuse to teach a certain group a “lesson.”

Commodity rationing in times of disaster has costs. Assuming the absence of nefarious reasons to cause, permit or delay alleviating a shortage, let’s look at the immediate and easily recognizable costs of lost time, the related inefficiency, and a seriously degraded lifestyle.

There are downstream economic costs. A business owner who spends 70 hours, up from 60 hours a week, to make the same net income will either pass that cost down to consumers, or cut back on other expenses. The expectation (or objective) that the owner will willingly sacrifice his most precious commodity — his time — for the public good is both naive and, frankly, contemptuous.

Somewhere, someone will lose his or her job when owners cut back due to revenue declines or physical fatigue, or even demoralization at continued government policies that reduce or eliminate the marginal benefit of added work. This is a perfectly rational decision. Other businesses will pass on costs, and the price increases or declines in service quality, quantity or variety of offered goods and services will reduce the savings or standard of living of downstream consumers.

Somewhere, somehow, the price is going to be paid. But there are more problems.

A typical government response is an anti-gouging law. is intended to protect the consumer from presumed exploitation by a business owner who raises prices at all following a natural disaster or other emergency event. But the government presumption that businesses and their owners are exploiters leads to further, unintended — and unproductive and harmful — consequences.

The government scrutiny fuels (no pun intended) the public perception that gas retailers are greedy and somehow profiting unfairly. This encourages the consumer to cheat the gas station owner, run out on the bill, cut the line, and so on. The rule of law, based on the larger cultural value of a shared sense of fairness, will deteriorate further.

In a society where our former President Obama shamed Americans to “pay their fair share” and where First Lady Michelle Obama remarked during the 2008 campaign that some had to do with less so that others could have a little more, government policies which inflict hardship or create a sense of injustice threaten to produce more lawbreaking and antisocial behavior, not less. The danger is that more and more people will feel that they are being robbed. The result? A degrading in behavior, from harsher reactions, to reduced sympathy, to a heightened moral rationalization for greed, to less hesitancy to pass on costs or to simply withhold benefits from others just because one can.

You can imagine charitable contributions and investments drying up, in both an economic and emotional reaction. We will have hoarding, not merely of gasoline but of almost any asset or resource.

Command and control economic policies spark an uncontrollable chain reaction of misery. The solution is not to fight people, or their demand. A real solution is to open up supply. Let gas station owners and other businesspeople charge whatever they want. Those who abuse consumers will soon pay a heavy price when they are shunned by their former customers. This will encourage gas station owners to stay in business, wholesalers to deliver gas, and refineries to get back in business.

Areas hit by disasters will not experience any recovery or economic revival when their governments act like the savage bikers out of the dystopian, post-apocalyptic movie “The Road Warrior.” Elected leaders should use their authority to work on supply preservation and supply chain problems, and on intergovernmental relations among various authorities to preserve basic public order and infrastructure. These are some of the simplest, and core, functions of government. Governments must serve their people, not treat them like the enemy for the sin of wanting to drive. Otherwise, we may see a new form of “road rage.”

Conservative corporate lawyer, commentator, blockchain technology patent holder and entrepreneur. Headquartered in a red light district in the middle of a deep blue People's Republic.

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Guns and Crime

ICE gets media beating for taking illegal immigrant into custody over Mexican homicide warrant

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ICE gets media beating for taking illegal immigrant into custody over Mexican homicide warrant

It’s the type of story the media craves. An illegal immigrant, Joel Arrona-Lara, who “hasn’t done anything wrong” was detained by ICE agents while transporting his pregnant wife to the hospital. She ended up having to drive herself the rest of the way before delivering their son.

The spin is predictable. They skim over the fact that he has an arrest warrant in Mexico for homicide while putting all the focus on his wife’s dilemma. They even attempt to cast doubt on the warrant because the lawyer for the family says he couldn’t find a record of the warrant. This last part is most peculiar because it would be simple for a major media outlet to confirm the existence of the warrant. They did, of course, but they won’t report that when they have a better quote from the lawyer denying its existence.

Eventually details will emerge about the warrant, but not until the media inflicts as much damage as possible on ICE and anyone in favor of legal immigration being the proper way to enter the country.

Here’s the story. If you click through, you’ll even get a link at the bottom to the family’s new GoFundMe page:

ICE Detains Man Driving Pregnant Wife To Deliver Baby, Says He Is Wanted For Homicide In Mexico

https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2018/08/18/joel-arrona-detained-by-ice-san-bernardino-driving-wife-to-deliver-baby/Her husband Joel Arrona-Lara was driving his wife to the hospital for a scheduled Cesarean section Wednesday afternoon when they had to stop to get gas. That’s when their car was approached by two SUVs. Maria said they were officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The mother of five was then asked to show her identification and complied. When the agents asked Arrona-Lara, the couple said he didn’t have the ID on him, but that they lived nearby and could go get it for them. The agents then asked Arrona-Lara to exit the vehicle, searched the car for weapons, and put Arrona into custody, leaving Maria alone at the gas station.

My take

There’s no doubt the circumstances surrounding all of this are unfortunate. Pregnant wives should not have to drive themselves to the hospital for a scheduled C-section. On the other hand, suspected murderers shouldn’t be entering the country in the first place. That point won’t be mentioned by mainstream media.

ICE has a responsibility to take people like Arrona-Lara into custody so it can be determined whether or not they should be deported. There may have even been a certain degree of leeway given had there been no records other than his status as an illegal immigrant, but being a suspected murderer with an arrest warrant took away any chance at leeway. The ICE agents did the right thing.

As a legal immigrant, I have no sympathy for those who cheat the system and break our laws. Blaming the ICE agents for doing their job correctly in order to keep us safe is the type of insanity mainstream media loves to sell us.

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Democrats

The real reason Ocasio-Cortez is afraid of the press

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The real reason Ocasio-Cortez is afraid of the press

For at least the second time, reporters were barred from covering an event featuring Socialist Democratic darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The campaign’s reason: we want attendees to feel comfortable since there’s so much national press covering her.

This is an absolutely ridiculous excuse, of course. Nobody goes to a campaign event without knowing the press will (should) be there. It doesn’t make them less comfortable and may actually give some a sense of security knowing the answers to their questions will be judged by more than the audience at hand. That’s one of the reasons for the press in the first place, to give information about an event to people who cannot attend.

Instead, the press is getting another roadblock:

Ocasio-Cortez bans press from covering campaign event

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/08/17/ocasio-cortez-bans-press-from-covering-campaign-event.htmlAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic socialist star running for New York’s 14th congressional district, is facing criticism after her campaign banned journalists from covering a town hall meeting with voters this week.

The Queens Chronicle, a local news outlet, reported that the campaign for the 28-year-old progressive prevented reporters from attending a campaign event in Corona on Sunday, even though it was open to the rest of the public. The campaign reportedly barred reporters from a prior event as well.

It’s conspicuous that a local publication was barred because it runs contrary to the narrative the campaign is trying to sell. So why is she being hidden from reporters at these types of events?

My Take

It’s clear that her exposure is her best friend and worst enemy. Being talked about is a politician’s best friend on the campaign trail, but it also offers a risk of failure. This is most common in events like the town hall meetings she is holding because she’ll be forced to think on her feet.

What if she can’t think on her feet? What if her answers when placed in an unscripted situation the type of answers many would expect from an inexperienced socialist?

Until she’s ready to handle the pressure of having press cover these events, she won’t be ready to hold public office at this level. The House of Representatives isn’t for people who need to be protected from their own answers.

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Culture and Religion

Ken Ham on how science confirms the Bible

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Ken Ham on how science confirms the Bible

One of my biggest pet peeves is the attempt by atheists to use “science” to disprove the Bible. It’s unfortunate on many levels, not the least of which being Pascal’s Wager, but the strangest part is how much of science must be ignored in order to make the claim a Biblical worldview runs counter to modern science.

Some may object to this topic being part of mostly political news site, but it’s been more widely covered in recent years by liberal sites attempting to paint the Biblical worldview in a negative light, so it’s good to give equal time to the counterarguments.

There are better videos than Ken Ham’s discussion on the topic, but few are more easily understood. It’s well worth the hour.

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