“Price gouging” is another term pols and the media use to slippery effect.
Three things come immediately to the eye of anybody who carefully reads Sarah Doiron’s WPRI article, “Dems urge crackdown on price gouging as gas skyrockets.”
First, the article contains not a single number or specific instance of price gouging. Politicians (Democrats all) simply note that prices are up, assert that there is “price gouging” and blame it on “corporate greed” (David Cicilline), insist that companies are “using inflation as cover to expand their profits” (Elizabeth Warren), and scream that corporations are “exploiting the disruption in the pandemic economy to jack up prices” (Sheldon Whitehouse). So, again, without a single bit of data, members of a political party whose policies are wreaking havoc on our economy spin in a few uncontested paragraphs a world in which faceless corporations are, out of greed, taking the pandemic as an excuse to raise prices and cause inflation, which they then use as cover for expanded profits.
Second, Doiron makes absolutely no effort to determine whether any of the above is true or to explore other factors that might be increasing prices (like massive subsidies to people who aren’t working, out-of-control government spending and debt, or Joe Biden’s destruction of America’s energy industry). Not a single alternative perspective is offered, making this pure propaganda.
Third, the public service portion of the article, supposedly informing readers about what they can “do to protect themselves from price gouging” muddies the water so profoundly as to make the term meaningless. Not being charged an advertised price and not getting the amount of gas you’ve paid for aren’t indications of “price gouging”; they’re indications of fraud. This is the same technique RI labor unions are using to redefine a trend toward independent contracting as “wage theft.” Again, pure propaganda, and the news media is doing nothing to clarify it for the public.
Political decisions caused inflation, and now with the help of a friendly media, the very same politicians are passing the blame on to one of their all-purpose “others.” Our democracy cannot function like this, with the most powerful institution, government, further empowered to distract and dissimulate. Indeed, it’s a malicious cycle. The Democrats take the opportunity of their policies’ ill effects to give themselves more power, as they will if this “price gouging” legislation passes and the government can begin dragging executives in front of cameras to demand proof of necessity.
If you want to know where this goes, take a look at Rhode Island’s health insurance market. This toxic mix of political demagoguery and micromanagement by people who are incompetent, ill-intended, or both is what has brought us to the point that the state has to cancel its bidding process because none of the insurers are capable of applying for the job.
Featured image by York County SC on Twitter.