The Political Economy of Wishful Thinking
States have some ridiculous laws on the books, but some of the most interesting, popular, and ridiculous are those on price regulation. At bottom, they come down to this: Wouldn’t it be better if there were no scarcity? Maybe (I’m not convinced), but why stop there? Gravity and friction both bug me, too.
Today Florida opened a “report your neighbor” hot line, for price gougers. But Anti-gouging laws reduce quantities available in emergencies, such as hurricanes or other natural disasters. (My own state, NC, has an egregious version). If there is not enough ice or batteries at high prices, how will there be enough at artificially low prices? (Walter Williams, John Hood, and Arnold Kling, on same) (see, for a little different view, Tyler Cowen)
Anti-scalping laws have created an entire industry focused on the secondary black market.
Why can’t we just all get along—with markets?