Ice and Gas Shortage: Hurricane Irene


She’s coming.  There’s been little doubt about that now for 2 days.  Irene is coming and she is big.

As the storm hits and does her damage, residents in her path are going to find that they’re short critical supplies; water, ice, gasoline, propane to name a few.  Part of the reason we’ll be short these key commodities is because people have bought more than they usually would have in advance of the storm.  The second is because we’re just gonna use more of ’em.

Demand will impact supply.

And, just as the law of supply and demand would dictate, as those items begin to run out, the price will rise.  In some cases doubling or even tripling.  This does several things:

  1. It reduces the desire of people to hoard.
  2. It signals to suppliers that a need has been established and in the interest of profit, will work to fill that need.
  3. It activates politicians to fulfill the law of politics: Pass laws that try to break the law of economics.

See, people vote politicians in, so politicians react in irrational ways to this problem:

RALEIGH, NC (NCDOJ) — North Carolina’s strong price gouging law is now in effect because a state of emergency has been declared due to Hurricane Irene, Attorney General Roy Cooper notified businesses and consumers today.

“We’re warning price gougers that you can’t use a crisis as an excuse to make an unfair profit off of consumers,” said Cooper.

Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the Governor. The law also applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.

What people WANT is for suppliers to supply goods at the normal price even as the cost of doing so goes up.  IF the law above were written to say :

The people of North Carolina have decided that during times of crisis, we do not want to encourage exceptional efforts to deliver necessary and critical goods.  We don’t want to pay any price for this effort and would rather, instead, save our money and do without.

THAT is what this law is doing.

And if you don’t think so, or if you think that we should allow prices to reflect demand, then I suggest YOU buy a U-Haul truck of water or a refer truck full of ice and drive to the coast and deliver that water and ice yourself.

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9 comments
  1. A for apple said:

    Thats a go6d ruggertion. I gope i hope people can get trucks to do this and beat the gouging elephant.

  2. A for apple said:

    Thats a good suggestion. My bad. I am not taking a drink b 4 big lady Irene show her stormy self up. I suppose the red states wont get emergency disaster relief from the government but the blue states would. Ouch

    • pino said:

      I am not taking a drink b 4 big lady Irene show her stormy self up.

      I am; cheers!

      I suppose the red states wont get emergency disaster relief from the government but the blue states would. Ouch

      We’ll see. That’s how it went for the stimulus….

  3. OVER!!! said:

    Ok. Me too. Change my mind. I will drink to dat. Cheers. . . To u, to ur blog, to Irene, and to the fricking stormy weekend.

  4. I think the bigger issue with the law is that consumers should be protected from EVERY supplier of water in the area deciding to price fix due to the hurricane, isn’t it? Someone can sell a $0.50 bottle of water on a hot day for $5.00 if they want to, but I still have a choice as to whether to buy it expensively now or cheaper at a store later, or simply drink from the garden hose when I get home (haha!) A lot of those options don’t exist during a crisis, and water is an essential need. Gas and generators? Not so much.

  5. pino said:

    A lot of those options don’t exist during a crisis, and water is an essential need. Gas and generators? Not so much.

    Right.

    But the point is that if we can sell generators, or water and ice, for 500% profit, we will REALLY work hard to sell as many generators as we can. And other people will work to do the same.

    If we don’t allow prices to go up, folks won’t go the extra mile to bring in those supplies. Then we don’t have any at ANY price.

  6. cb moose said:

    A simple point of view from a simple person, I believe. But there is a point of self-responsibility to be made here. To wit:

    I exercised my freedom of choice and chose NOT to go to North Carolina for vacation this year.
    Can’t get any more basic that that, right? But if I had chosen to go to a coastal area with a hurricane bearing down there are a few simple things I would have done:
    (1) Fill up my vehicle as soon as I arrived. That way I know that I have 400+ miles to go before worrying about fuel…besides, with freedom comes responsibility and I’m merely being responsible. I don’t need some “nanny state” bureaucrat to take care of ME!
    (2) Get out early…we bailed out of Myrtle Beach when they began taping the windows. Anyone who waits for some “nanny state” bureaucrat to tell them that the party’s over is a fool and deserves to sit in line with the “low fuel” light blazing brightly.

    So let’s see…where are the holes in Tarheel’s argument? While his arguments:

    “Demand will impact supply.
    And, just as the law of supply and demand would dictate, as those items begin to run out, the price will rise. In some cases doubling or even tripling.”

    …certainly hold water during normal times, during disasters this mindset is akin to applying the parable about the ant and the grasshopper to your neighbor’s misfortune…”too bad that tree fell on your house. Sucks to be you!”

    By the way…if you want to sit there and think “screw the tourists”, just remember that we don’t have to visit your state. Myrtle Beach used to be THE destination; then us Yankees began migrating to the OBX, but we can always go to Virginia Beach or Ocean City.

    Then you can charge one another $5 for gas and $10 for a bag of ice to chill your beer with. You won’t be getting my money…it’s all about freedom of choice, baby! It works both ways…

    • pino said:

      Anyone who waits for some “nanny state” bureaucrat to tell them that the party’s over is a fool and deserves to sit in line with the “low fuel” light blazing brightly.

      I agree. Personal responsibility wins out every day.

      during disasters this mindset is akin to applying the parable about the ant and the grasshopper to your neighbor’s misfortune…”too bad that tree fell on your house. Sucks to be you!”

      This is the problem with conservative points of view; they make the individual supporting them look like they don’t care or are some callous ass. Rather, I’m trying to explain the best way to make sure ice, gas, water and food makes its way to where they are needed.

      If you allow prices to rise you will find that there will be people who watch and “chase” these storms with supplies at the ready. When disaster hits, they’ll be there to “make a buck”, or another way, to provide critical supplies at a time when they are needed.

      By the way…if you want to sit there and think “screw the tourists”

      I actually didn’t have tourists in mind here. More so was the communities impacted by 10-12 feet of flood waters, without power or clean water. The people that typically have to stay behind.

      But you bring up a good point.

      Then you can charge one another $5 for gas and $10 for a bag of ice to chill your beer with. You won’t be getting my money…it’s all about freedom of choice, baby! It works both ways…

      Which is another great point. Communities tend to punish the selfish. If a business rakes their customers over the coals, those customers will remember.

  7. Hello. Is this photo your original work? Do yo have the photo in .TIFF form? I am interested in using this photo in a publication, if available. I would love to discuss further. Thank you.

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