In Monday’s morning docket, we asked whether price-gouging investigations during hurricanes were the new trend among attorneys general. Judging from the many investigations launched over the past week, the answer is a resounding YES.
Louisiana AG Buddy “Rattlesnake” Caldwell caught our attention for his battle cry against high hotel and gas prices during Hurricane Gustav. Now that Hurricane Ike has reared its ugly head, other attorneys general are joining the war, including:
Florida AG Bill McCollum has hit up four gas stations with subpoenas. [The Gainesville Sun] South Carolina AG Henry McMaster has begun gas price-gouging investigations. [The Greenville News] New York AG Andrew Cuomo is chilling for the moment, just “issuing warnings” about high gas prices. [investigating gas prices and filed suit against a Comfort Inn for doubling the cost of rooms during Hurricane Dolly. [MSNBC]
John Lott at Fox News does not think the AGs are fighting the good fight:
You would think that people had learned their lessons about price controls during the 1970s, though memories have surely faded. Price controls didn’t stop the cost of gasoline from rising. They just changed how we paid for them. Instead of prices rising until the amount people wanted equaled the amount available, chronic shortages of gasoline had Americans waiting in lines for hours. Yet, the supposedly permanent shortages disappeared instantly as soon as price controls were removed.
But AGs are responsible for ensuring the law is enforced, not analyzing economic systems. So investigate and sue away, noble attorneys general! And if your AG isn’t following the trend, what’s up with that?
In Defense of Price Gougers [Fox News]