Economists’ Petition: Repeal the Anti-Price Gouging Laws To Ensure Our Health and Safety During this Coronavirus Epidemic
- United States of America
REQUESTING THE SIGNATURE OF ECONOMISTS ON THIS PETITION TO REPEAL THE ANTI-PRICE GOUGING LAWS. THIS PETITION WILL BE SUBMITTED TO THE GOVERNORS OF THE 36 STATES WITH ANTI-PRICE GOUGING LAWS, KEY MEMBERS OF STATE LEGISLATURES, AND TO PRESIDENT TRUMP AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS.
FURTHER BACKGROUND ON THIS ISSUE:
(1) States with anti-price gouging laws:
(2) A longer discussion of the current issues:
(3) Academic Research on anti-price gouging laws:
We, the undersigned economists, implore the governors and legislatures of the 36 states with anti-price gouging laws to repeal or temporarily suspend them during this coronavirus emergency.
All of these laws are a form of price control, and they cause the shortages of the very products that can ensure our health and survival during this coronavirus epidemic, such as masks, sanitizers, gloves, testing kits, and other essential medical, hygiene, and food supplies.
Doctors and hospitals are having difficulty getting enough masks and gloves. And these shortages are spreading. Entire sections of grocery stores are being cleaned out as people panic-buy for fear of new shortages. Even toilet paper cannot be found in many stores!
None of this had to happen, and it can still end with vital medical supplies and abundance returning to the stores, if elected officials do one thing: repeal or, at a minimum, temporarily suspend the anti-price gouging laws.
The anti-price gouging laws interfere with the working of the most fundamental principle in economics: the Law of Supply and Demand. This Law holds that when market prices are free to adjust to reflect changes in supply and demand conditions, markets will clear; there will be no shortages (or if one temporarily arises, it will quickly subside).
This is a basic principle learned in any introductory economics class, yet it is a lesson forgotten in statehouses and courtrooms and homes and businesses across the country.
Americans need to accept that market prices reflect actual supply and demand conditions, conditions that cannot be wished away by legislating “fair” prices. When market prices spike higher, it is because there is a greater scarcity of the product in question. This is what happened when, at first, just N-95 face masks began to run out. In the first days of the epidemic, demand spiked for these face masks, but merchants could not raise prices in response, which would have controlled the quantities demanded so that they would match available supplies. Instead, they ran out of masks.
An even greater tragedy occurred on the supply side. Higher prices -- which were forbidden by the anti-price gouging laws -- would have increased the supply of these life-saving goods by signaling to manufacturers higher profits from making these goods. This means that factories could afford to bring on the extra shifts, hire more trucks, pay more for scarce supplies — do all that it takes to meet the extra demand.
Which is better, temporarily higher prices and a greater supply of masks and the other life-saving goods, or being “protected” from “gougers” and having none of these goods at all? That is the choice we face.
We beseech you to repeal or suspend the anti-price gouging laws in this time of emergency. Unleash the power of the market. Our very lives depend on it!
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The Economists’ Petition: Repeal the Anti-Price Gouging Laws To Ensure Our Health and Safety During this Coronavirus Epidemic petition to Economists was written by Raymond Niles and is in the category Government at GoPetition.