Energy emergency: Sandy profiteers sell gas, generators at predatory prices on post-apocalypse Craigslist

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127 Responses to “Energy emergency: Sandy profiteers sell gas, generators at predatory prices on post-apocalypse Craigslist”

  1. Greg Robinson says:

    I’m actually surprised you didn’t find any posts seeking to trade gas for sexual favors.  Goodness knows I found a few posts along those lines when I was doing my apartment search a few years ago…

  2. Digilante says:

    That’s called capitalism and responding to market demand. You sound surprised to be seeing the American nation’s most sacred cultural axiom in action.

  3. goodcod says:

    This is a vision of things to come when gas is a scarce fuel.  

  4. comforteagle says:

    price gouging sounds terrible, but in reality, for non life essential goods, it insures the limited supplies get to the most needy -and- brings in resources from elsewhere to where they are badly needed.

    • Edie Howe says:

       “…insures the limited supplies get to the most needy…”
      Uh, not at $20/gal.  Needy=poor, dunnit?

      • michael grisham says:

        not really. He’s referring to those that need the gas the most.  If your business relies on gas, like a food cart owner who must transport his cart with his truck etc… It’s not a bad deal to over pay for a few gallons to keep you in business this week when the alternative would be to lose more than that in lost sales.

      • Boundegar says:

        Stop that!  Poor people do not need gasoline!  They need tax cuts!

      • OtherMichael says:

        In this context “needy” is defined as “those willing to pay for something.”

        Ie, those with the greatest need will do what it takes to get the good or service in question.
        Those with a lesser need will give up, do without, or find something else.

        If you wait in line for two days and shell out $20 a gallon, you are needy (in this context).
        If you give up after two hours and say “$5 a gallon, that’s terrible!” and go chop some wood for your stove, you are not needy (in this context).

        • wysinwyg says:

          There seems to be this implicit assumption that there’s no one anywhere who both needs gasoline and can’t pay these prices.  “Will do what it takes” like fellatio in alleyways?

    • knappa says:

      Sorry, this market equilibrium/efficient resource allocation only really makes sense in an idealized environment whose assumptions are entirely violated during a natural disaster. 

      • rmv says:

        assumptions like supply and demand?

        • knappa says:

          They would eventually move to the equilibrium which matches the two, but that takes time and relative stability of both supply and demand. Natural disasters are short lived and can shift the two to extremes.

          • rmv says:

            You said assumptions are violated. Supply and demand are not conditional.

            The arguments against price controls in a disaster situation is twofold. One is distributional reasons, which is where the efficient allocation of scarce resources thing comes in. The second is to induce producers into the market. One of the determinants of supply is expectations. Artificially low prices prevent potential producers from entering the market, exacerbating the length of the shortage.

            This is Intro Econ stuff.

          • foobar says:

            Again, you’re thinking long term. What’s actually happening is existing producers jacking up their prices to make a quick buck (who would be selling these goods anyway) or scalpers buying it at fair prices and holding it ransom.

            By the time new producers could enter the market, the emergency would be over.

          • rmv says:

            @boingboing-87eb9d4eaa03cf39630cf48a920d1920:disqus 

            No.

            Look at some of the pics attached to this article. Go to craigslist and search for gas or gasoline.

            You’ll find ads for people willing to bring gas. That is the price system working. You’ll find ads for gas right after Sandy hit.

            If you consider that long term, then I don’t know what to say.

      • Rindan says:

        No… the assumptions are still valid, they are just extreme.  There is a very high demand and little supply.  Economics 101 is going to correctly predict  that you will get high prices as a result.

        This isn’t a bad thing so long as essentials are being taken care of, it encourages people to transport in those things with a high price, and it discourages people from squandering what resources they have.  I bet you think twice about taking your car out to go see a friend if the cost to get it re-filled is $20 a gallon.  This is a good thing.  You SHOULDN’T be squandering scarce resources on stupid stuff during a disaster.  Eventually the price drives people to bring in enough of whatever is missing, the price drops off, and all is normal again.  

        The alternative, artificially holding the price low while demand is very high results in low supply (i.e. shortages).  Again, this is economics 101 in action.  Economics isn’t prescribing a policy, it just informs on the consequences.

        A little gouging is healthy.  It keeps people from spending scarce resources and encourages people to increase the supply of those resource.  Supply gets back  to its old levels quicker, and as a result price drops off back to normal quicker.  

        So long as the essentials are covered (food and water) so that everyone remains safe, the only real downside to this sort of activity is that it might be skirting regulations and open the door to cheater and scamming.  If you get shitty batteries sold on the street, eh, the consequences are that you are annoyed and a little poorer.  If you get black market fuel that is cut with water, the consequence might be a busted engine.

        • knappa says:

          The problem with Econ 101 is that it is taught to undergraduates who have very little knowledge about mathematics. You assume equilibrium for little to no reason — in a natural disaster the parameters are rapidly changing and there is little to no time for either buyers or sellers to find the equilibrium before the disaster has passed. For example: no one is going to buy that thousand dollar drum of gas. 

        • kromelizard says:

           Your assumptions are wildly incorrect.

          1) You assume that ability to pay is equivalent to most needy. This is a patently foolish assumption. The person who needs gasoline to power a generator to support life saving equipment, or to power the pump needed to drain water out of their house does not necessarily have a greater ability to pay than a person of means who simply doesn’t want their lifestyle temporarily inconvenienced.

          2) You assume that inflationary disaster pricing will have any effect on available supply. This is a preposterous assumption when the entire reason for the inflationary pricing is damage to the distribution network. Allowing profiteering in this situation is not terribly different than allowing a monopoly to artificially limit supply in order to allow similarly inefficient pricing. Until the distribution network is repaired price signalling has no particular relevance to the available supply and allowing disaster profiteering would have the net effect of sellers of gas profiting more from doing less. There’s nothing terribly efficient about that. And within that time span it would not actually be possible for an additional supplier to enter the market, because they themselves would be prevented by the same damage to infrastructure that is hindering existing suppliers.

          3) You assume that the profit extraction of price gouging is not hindering the efficient operation of the market. Allowing this kind of price gouging encourages hoarding and forces buyers to sink an excess of resources to pay rentiers, people who make no significant addition of value to the product and actually profit most by hindering the effective distribution of the resource they control. You actually actively encourage an even greater disruption to the distribution network when you permit price gouging and just exacerbate the underlying problem.

          Your faith in the effectiveness of price signalling in extreme situations is fundamentally foolish. Markets need regulation to operate properly. The more extreme and volatile the situation or the market, the more stringent the regulation needed. What a situation like the one in the hurricane Sandy affected area needs is not unregulated price gouging. It needs price controls and effective rationing that considers the criteria of need and the public good e.g. supplying providers of essential services first and individuals with significant need over those who just want to be able to drive around like they always do.

          • comforteagle says:

            Reading between the lines I think you’re seeing Mr. Burns behind every corner. 

          • kromelizard says:

            What I’m seeing is too many people like you defending dangerous and damaging behavior with specious economic reasoning with no particular foundation in the actual facts or the real operations of markets. It is appalling that there are so many here who seem to think it’s fine to make a quick buck off of desperate people who’ve already lost everything.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            People suck.

          • comforteagle says:

            It think it is dangerous that you don’t like the idea of someone charging more and are willing to ignore that it directs goods where they’re needed because you perceive a slight where there is none.  Pre disaster prices for items are expensive for some and nothing to others. Same now, but the numbers are different.

            You see others not agreeing with you… maybe it’s you.  I used to think price gauging was wrong until I took a long hard look at it beyond the initial ‘gauge’.

          • kromelizard says:

             I see people not agreeing because unfortunately far too many people don’t understand market economics. Most of those people call themselves “free marketeers” and fail to understand that all markets require regulation in order to operate. Your argument about price signalling directing supply does not work because price signalling requires an efficiently functioning market in order to direct supply where it is needed.

            In a disaster area the market ceases efficient functioning, fragments, and diverts essential resources to the efforts of profiteers and consumers who now must deal with additional layers of distribution in order to secure needed supplies. The market becomes inefficient and that inefficiency allows for predatory pricing and profiteering. This is wasteful, damaging, and dangerous. Profiteers are prone to employing force and adulterating their goods, further compromising public safety for their own benefit. You can play semantic games with the words “gauge” and “gouge” all you want, your argument is still wrong.

          • wysinwyg says:

            You see others not agreeing with you… maybe it’s you.

            LOL.  “If I disagree with you then you’re wrong.”  Great argument, dude.

          • wysinwyg says:

             Great comment, especially part (2).

    • foobar says:

      price gouging sounds terrible, but in reality, for non life essential goods, it insures the limited supplies get to the most needy rich
      FTFY.

  5. GlyphGryph says:

    Honestly, it just seems pretty savvy, at least for those that honestly purchased it before the storm. If they were in an area that didn’t lose power, suddenly they’ve got extra gas and a bunch of people that really want – sounds like a sellers market, and considering the circumstances, the prices (generally) don’t seem that unreasonable.

    • acerplatanoides says:

      So a sellers market justifies the laws being broken? How far down the slippery slope are you willing to push your fellow citizens?

      • I believe the argument here is that it is a bad law…

        • BarBarSeven says:

          Okay, can you then explain to me the following: The same kind of gouging that is happening with gasoline is 100% not happening with food or water?  I swear, I am in NYC right now and if anything food & water is being given away without issue.

          Gasoline? Gouge.  The law is not broken. Human morality for some is broken.

        • acerplatanoides says:

          Says the minority.

          Welcome to the absolute tyranny that is sensible safety laws. AKA civilization. Cling to it or don’t, but don’t think everyone is going to stand idly by while you try to shove us both off for YOUR opinion.

          You may not be aware of the downsides of no regulation. Perhaps you should make an argument for what level of regulation works better than the sensible safety laws regarding liquid fuels which have been developed by prior generations to avoid avoidable disasters. 

      • Rindan says:

        The law isn’t morality.  You can break laws and be a moral person.  Hell, you sometimes MUST break laws to be a moral person.  If you want to argue that people selling gasoline at higher than pre-storm rates is immoral, great, go for it.  Just don’t use “it is wrong because it is illegal” as an argument.  

        Pot is illegal, but if someone makes and grows pot, more power to them.  Anal sex was illegal in Texas less than a decade ago, and anyone who wants to argue that is immoral I assume gets their morals from 3000 year dead goat herders.

        Legality and morality often overlap, but one most certainly does not imply the other.

        • acerplatanoides says:

          Well then Rindan, I guess It’s a good thing I never made that argument. Kindly take that shitty rhetoric out of my mouth. 

          It’s not bad because it’s illegal. It’s illegal because it’s antisocial.

          • Johnny Lemuria says:

            And causing shortages, potentially fatal ones, as well as setting the conditions of a black market that will make getting essential supplies more dangerous, is _more_ social?

          • acerplatanoides says:

            You go reason with the force of nature that caused the blackout about how anti-scoial it was to cause the emergency., and take Rindan’s strawman with you.

    • foobar says:

      The law would not prohibit them from selling it at a fair price, or even for adding a reasonable surcharge for delivery.

  6. Bevatron Repairman says:

    Here’s a guy offering to buy gasoline for $15? Is he wrong to make the offer?  All that’s going on right now is hoarding.  

    http://newyork.craigslist.org/stn/wan/3379940658.html

    • acerplatanoides says:

      I’ve always found the use of the word ‘all’ in a sentence like that to be an emotional appeal to justify one’s own unethical behavior by way of the herds action.

      • Bevatron Repairman says:

        I’m sure you have.

        What do you think is going to happen to a stockpile of 55 gallons of gas in the midst of a shortage (real or perceived) in the absence of a premium price?  It won’t get sold and so it won’t get used.  How is that helpful to anyone?

        • EH says:

          Gas can’t be used unless it’s sold?

        • acerplatanoides says:

          what does helpful have to do with anything? That’s seems like maybe an emotional appeal to justify one’s own unethical behavior by way of the herds action.

          also, I think it will evaporate. Stop stockpiling gas, it’s dangerous and you can poison yourself more easily than you think.

          • Bevatron Repairman says:

            You misunderstand.  I don’t want to stockpile gas and I don’t want to sell it. Anything beyond the 20 or so gallons in the cars and the two gallons in the lawn shed would be a pain in the arse to store for any such eventuality.  And even if I could store 50 gallons and sell it for $20 gallon, is it really worth that much trouble for a $1000 or so as one time potential windfall?  Not for me.

            But I’d really like to be able to buy it at some premium in that situation instead of being forced to panic buy at lower than market prices because the supply is questionable.

          • acerplatanoides says:

            I assume that the people with the most self-interest in selling gasoline are the most motivated to solve the problem of not being able to sell gasoline. They’re gas station owners. At the end of the day we’re all better off leaving it to the professionals, at centralized locations.

          • OtherMichael says:

            stockpiling IS dangerous.  Before you know it, the stockpilers are building buildings, demanding larger portions of your grain, creating taxation, alphabets and learnin’ your young-uns that mammy and pappy’s nomadic ways are archaic.

          • wysinwyg says:

             Are you simply unaware that gasoline is actually a really volatile and dangerous substance?

  7. Brian Denton says:

    Matt Yglesias comments: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/11/01/gas_lines_in_new_jersey_the_state_needs_more_price_gouging.html

  8. angstrom says:

    Wait, $5 a gallon gas. Is that good or bad?
    Here in the uk it costs 9.60 usd a gallon.

    Do these guys ship overseas? Even with postage that sounds like a bargain to me.

    • HulloHulot says:

      In Scotland, on the east coast, we can expect to buy petrol for ~10.80 USD a gallon. So, how much is the average gallon in the US?

      • acerplatanoides says:

         3.89 for 87 octane in Massachusetts. I don’t drive much, but the pickup is thirsty.

      • Andrew Grohs says:

        Anywhere from $3.50 in the “wide-open country” where you have to drive a lot, all the way to near $5.00 in inner-city areas. 

        That’s the range (for the midwest), but we’re at the mercy of its wild fluctuations. I live halfway between Chicago and Detroit near a small suburban city. Gas was always around $4.00/gal. A few weeks ago though it dropped to an unbelievable $3.40 overnight, for no apparent reason. When I was in Chicago a bit ago it was something like $4.89.

        You have to remember though, you drive A LOT more in the US than you do in the UK. I would have to drive 20 miles to get to the nearest public transportation, which will take me only to Detroit or Chicago, 150 miles either way. My commute is 60 miles round-trip, no other option other than driving. You can not function without a car in the US unless you live in New York or similar large city (or obscenely close to your work). 

        Contrast to my summer vacation in England. 100 yard walk to a bus stop, bus to train, a train anywhere my heart desired on the hour. This concept was completely foreign to me. 

        • EH says:

          A few weeks ago though it dropped to an unbelievable $3.40 overnight

          I believe that was right around the time of one of the Presidential debates.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        $4.25 to $4.50 here for the last few years, but we’re pretty consistently near the top of the price range.

      • retchdog says:

        the average us gallon is eight pints.

  9. off_leash says:

    Anyone storing a large amount of gas at their home is probably voiding their fire insurance. My policy specifically says the limit is 5 gallons outside of what is in your car’s fuel tank.

  10. LikesTurtles says:

    In theory it is a good thing. A person needing gas for a generator that powers a ventilator keeping someone alive is going to be willing to pay more and thus gets the gas over someone buying it to power their TV. Unfortunately in practice what’s more likely is someone with a lot of disposable income will outbid everyone else so they can play xbox. And because the bidders in general don’t know about each other, the xbox player might be totally willing to let the gas go to the person with the ventilator but from their point of view, it’s simply someone offering gas for a temporarily high price. They don’t even know the external factors surrounding their out bidding of everyone else (or that there were even other bidders). 

    • wysinwyg says:

      Unfortunately in practice what’s more likely is someone with a lot of
      disposable income will outbid everyone else so they can play xbox.

      No way man, a bunch of other people in the thread assured me that this couldn’t happen.  Because only the neediest will get the overpriced fuel, and besides people are either cash-rich or time-rich and never both so no one who can afford $20 a gallon has time to play X-Box.

  11. mrfantasy says:

    Okay, profiteering is bad.  But what if i just made people amuse me for a while in exchange for market-priced gasoline?

  12. Marmo Squirrel says:

    If there is a person selling gasoline at $5 a gallon, and I want to buy at that price, why is this wrong? Who are YOU to say this is “gouging” and should be stopped or at least frowned on?

    Even at $10 a gallon, I would have it delivered to the location of my choice. It would save me standing in line for hours, it would avoid me having to risk being in an angry crowd and it would allow me to avoid being close to gun toting fellow customers. Also, I would be able to buy as many gallons as I could afford, not just the rationed amount the stations offer each customer.

    These impromptu gasoline vendors are providing a service, and they are doing it in the tried and true capitalist manner. Gasoline bought at pre-storm prices of 3 bucks a gallon and sold at 5 or 10 have far, far less markup on them, expressed as a percentage than does everyday brand name shoes from China, most clothing and even a lot of grocery items.

    it’s all about choice, and what the market will bear. Everything else is sour grapes and whining.

    • acerplatanoides says:

      “If there is a person selling gasoline at $5 a gallon, and I want to buy at that price, why is this wrong?”

      Licensing, storage, insurance, weight and measures restrictions, fraud, public safety, 

      Who are YOU to say this is “gouging” and should be stopped or at least frowned on?”

      Strangely, that wasn’t anywhere near the list of good reasons. Almost like you’re putting a strawman out there. Gouging is the least of the social problems here.  Ignoring the rules of a civilized society during a time of public disaster…. because it’s what you feel you need to do…. that’s the issue.

      Justify your selfishness however you like, but you’re not being selfish BECAUSE there are rules. You’re selfish because you’ve decided to 1UP civilization, but still expect it to be there for YOU when you need it.

    • acerplatanoides says:

      ” Everything else is sour grapes and whining.”

      (and groundwater contamination, and fire hazard, and antisocial profiteering)

      Note the bully telling us to just shut up already.

    • wysinwyg says:

      Who are you to tell me what to call it?

      If you want to pay $10 for gas go ahead and pay it.  No one’s singling you out here.

  13. KWillets says:

    From each according to ability, to each according to horsepower.  

  14. zombieite says:

    Without predatory pricing we’re left with predatory consuming

  15. eddy says:

    Big deal. People have something others want and they are selling it. Demand drives prices.  I guess more people  are learning a good lesson on being prepared or evacuating. 

    • EH says:

      Capitalism is a religion, you can tell by the “ism” in the word.

      • BarBarSeven says:

        Demand drives prices.

        That only applies to a functioning infrastructure being in place. In the case of a disaster, doing this is known as gouging.  It’s illegal, and I bet in a week or so there will be very clear public reports of fines & arrests being made in the case of anyone gouging in the aftermath of a storm.

        Also, if your logic held any water than folks who had food in blacked out areas would be selling that at a premium as well. But guess what a good chunk of people & businesses ddid when the power went off & things were going to spoil? They gave the food away for free.

        • eddy says:

           Well you know what? No one is forcing anybody to buy anything. They can take their gas cans and go stand in line at the pumps. Maybe somebody has some extra cash and decides to buy from someone on Craigslist. Again, so what.

  16. Tim H says:

    A block from my apartment a guy is selling gasoline directly out of a fuel truck in a parking lot to cars lined up down the avenue.  Five blocks past that truck the gas station is out of gasoline.

    I regret not finding out what the price was.

  17. BarBarSeven says:

    Folks, gouging is illegal. Especially in times of crisis like this. So I suggest anyone who comes across any schmuck who is transparent enough to share their e-mail & phone number to take a screenshot & compile a list of names to give to the State Attorney General.  Use social media to socially & legally shame some humanity into these profiteers. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2012/11/storm-battered-states-crack-down-on-scams-gouging.html

  18. When you institute price controls like this you actually limit supply. Right now it is hard to bring fuel into the affected area and allowing people to sell it for higher prices will encourage more people to bring in fuel and increase the available supply.

    If the fuel shortage was general as opposed to local this sort of behavior would be negative but as it is only a local shortage higher prices reward people for bringing gas in which increases the total availability.

    • BarBarSeven says:

      Are you in New York City right now? Not everyone is without gas & in the next 24/48 hours things will get back to normal. Anyone gouging right now should simply be arrested.  No question.

    • acerplatanoides says:

      Dude, there is no gas because there is no power. There was a storm. It caused problems that it caused.

      How hard are you spinning this into a ‘there is no gas because of the government”?

      I assure you, there is about 10K+ gallons underground at dozens and dozens of locations in the area. I could probably find you a map.  Problem is no electricity to pump the gas out of the underground tanks.

      • I have heard of this scenario before, and it always stuns me that gas stations don’t have standby generators of some kind to run the pumps. It’s not as if they don’t have fuel to run them! All you have to do is pump the first five gallons out by hand to get the generator started, then away you go. It seems so obvious that there must be some good reason that I’m missing why it’s not done.

        • tlwest says:

           Well, if they aren’t supposed to raise their prices during a crisis, why should they spend the extra money to buy a generator?  Especially given that manning the station is going to have a much higher than normal employee, equipment and security cost during the crisis.

          Given that most consumers (me included) generally have no loyalty to gas stations outside of the lowest price, I scarcely expect the gas station to turn around and show any great loyalty to me.  We’re each trying to extract the most for the least.

          • acerplatanoides says:

             Also, too, without a little effort you have to make sure their hasn’t been damage to the pumping equipment, water in the tanks, etc…. It’s doable, but it takes a while in the best of times.

  19. BarBarSeven says:

    Here is a summary list from the American Bar Association on gouging laws & practices state by state:
    http://apps.americanbar.org/antitrust/at-committees/at-fe/pdf/programs/spring-06/price-gouging-statutes.pdf

    And here is a brief summary from the article I got that list from:
    Of the 13 East Coast states hit by Sandy, seven have laws against price gouging:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57544099/after-sandy-allegations-of-price-gouging/

    • North Carolina defines gouging as “a price that is unreasonably excessive under the circumstances.”
    • New York forbids sellers of “essential consumer goods and services from charging excessive prices during what is clearly an abnormal disruption of the market.”
    • Connecticut prohibits “individuals from excessively hiking up the prices of products and services during severe weather events.”
    • Massachusetts describes gouging as “A gross disparity between the price charged and price at which similar products were sold immediately before the emergency.”
    • Maine prohibits any “unjust or unreasonable profit” in the sale or exchange of necessities.
    • Virginia requires courts to consider whether the price charged for a product grossly exceeds the price for the same or similar products in the 10 days prior to the emergency.

  20. BarBarSeven says:

    And here is a Sandy specific guide from the New York State Division of Consumer Protection:
    https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/scams/sandyscams.html

    Price Gouging
    New York State General Business Law prohibits the inflation of the price of necessary goods like food, water, gas, generators, batteries and flashlights, and services like transportation, during natural disasters or other events that disrupt the market. Consumers should report any price gouging they experience to the New York Department of State or to theNew York State Office of the Attorney General.

    • BarBarSeven says:

      I love the fact that pointing to the specific state law in New York that prohibits gouging garners no response & no “likes” from commentors here.  Pretty much speaks for itself.

      • Boris Bartlog says:

        Because it’s irrelevant. We’re more or less arguing about whether the law is a good idea. I could post excerpts from state laws on MJ in an argument about legalization and it would be equally retarded. 

    • bolamig says:

      So the law that disrupts the market only applies when the market is disrupted. 

  21. BlackPanda says:

    Pretty much what everybody else pays for it, outside the USA.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Because it’s taxed so highly. Taxes which contribute to things like socialized education and medicine, which we don’t have. Please feel free to trade places with me. You’ll get gas for $4.37 per gallon and have to pay $666 per month in insurance premiums.

  22. perchecreek says:

    Dmitry Orlov in his book, Reinventing Collapse, observes that the urban denizens of the former Soviet Union were able to continue functioning after a catastrophic decrease in liquid fuel, at least as a civil society, because of the purported failings of central planning: rail systems ran on electricity (allowing coal to be substituted, and for transport to be 10x as efficient as auto-based systems), cities had not been suburbanized (greatly lowering total energy need), and co-generation supplied heat to apartment blocks (increasing thermal plant efficiency from 30% to 70%). The US, on the other hand, lacks these advantages, and may suffer a different fate should liquid fossil fuels become scarce, either on a short term or long term basis. I should add to Orlov’s observations that Germany in WWII and South Africa during Apartheid addressed the liquid fuel dilemma by coal liquefaction.

  23. ironman77 says:

    Hurricane Andrew hit us dead on (Homestead,FL).We were wiped clean.No power for 4 Months.Everyone was running generators at about $40 a day in gas.Every day or two,one of us would drive the 200 mile round trip north to get basic needs and fill 4 55 Gal. drums of gas.Nobody ever asked for a penny.The gas was “free”,take what you need.But you were expected to make the drive when needed.No $$ changed hands,but alot of respect,Love,trust did.

  24. Marky says:

    Last Saturday I helped a pal pull his boat out of it’s Long Island Sound mooring because the storm was coming. I, being an idiotic smart ass, broke his stones about being a “chicken”, Sandy’s only a tropical storm, he’s in no danger.

    Oops, Captain Bob was right.

    Friday, he called me up and asked me if I needed any gas. Turns out, the boat had 150 gallons on board, and he was giving it away to the folks in his neighborhood who needed some.

    Thanks, Bob!

  25. bolamig says:

    In Europe driving is expensive and a luxury for most people because the full costs of driving are born by drivers.  In that sort of climate free enterprise thrives and is an appropriate response to a disaster.

    In the USA gas prices are subsidized by the government, so it makes sense that they would limit supplies.  The market was never free to begin with, and our transportation infrastructure makes driving essential rather than a luxury for most people.

    It’s time for our government to gradually get into the healthcare business and out of the gas business, after the disaster has passed.

  26. sburns54 says:

    Capitalism in action! Bootstrapping go-getters, all of them! A republican’s dream come true!
    We should be admiring these flinty entrepreneurs, building these small businesses all by themselves without any government help! Only a commie socialist freeloader that wants everything handed to them for free and drives around in a Cadillac they got for free from the government would find a problem with this.

  27. Mac says:

    Just to understand - drug companies are prevented from selling AIDS drugs at high prices to desperate people – because that would be ‘predatory pricing’ … right?
    Clearly, to people in desparate need of AIDS drugs, chemo drugs etc there can be no real ‘supply & demand’ equilibrium.  So does the ‘predatory pricing’ laws outlaw that?  After all – cancer is a major natural disaster as well.

  28. Sounds like an episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

  29. Dan mcgovern says:

    Ignore for a moment whatever feelings you have on price gouging and it’s connotations.  Would you rather wait on-line for hours to pay $3.50/gal or would you rather the option to pay $10 or $20/gal to just drive up to the pump, fill up, and be on your merry way?  If enough people go for  the $20/gal station the lines at the $3.50/gal station would get shorter.  This seems like a win-win situation to me.  But I’m just a silly free marketeer and I don’t know any better.  

    • kromelizard says:

       You offer a false dichotomy. I would prefer price controls and rationing that discouraged hoarding and profiteering and directed supply to where it is most needed and not where it can most easily be paid for. And you clearly don’t know better because there’s no such thing as a “free” market, just well regulated or poorly regulated.

      • Dan mcgovern says:

        Who directs the supply to where it is most needed and how is that need determined?  

        • kromelizard says:

           The government agencies already responsible for regulating the existing market. This is what government is for, preserving the public good when profit motive will not.

          • Dan mcgovern says:

            So consumers and suppliers have no say in their mutually beneficial transactions?  Government gets to decide who is in need and who isn’t?  How is that need determined and how is the supply directed by government?  Even/Odd rationing isn’t really a determination of need or a direction of the supply – just random  luck of the draw on what day you got plates for your car it in fact ignores whether someone needs gas or not.  If I’m on E today, but my plates say I can’t get gas, how do I go to work to support my family or even get groceries?   Not sure where you’re from, but New Jersey isn’t all shopping malls and suburbia.  There are huge areas of rural land as well where people live and work.  It’s not a matter of going a few blocks to the gas station or grocery store but driving miles down ‘highways’ that are only two lanes – many of which are still blocked with storm debris.  Who are you to tell me that I can’t pay more for gas so I don’t have to drive 40 miles to the next gas station and wait on an hours long line?  You find evil in the profit motive.  I find evil in the idea that we all have to suffer so you can feel righteous about some fantasy called fairness.  

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I find evil in the idea that we all have to suffer so you can feel righteous about some fantasy called fairness.

            What are you – 13 years old? Most adults would be embarrassed to be caught saying something so sociopathic.

          • Dan mcgovern says:

            Antinous –  Yes, I’m a sociopath because I believe in free association instead of using armed men to put people in cages for the sole crime of ‘profit’ as many boingers do.  

          • cdh1971 says:

            A wise man, quoting from a text sacred to his people once said to me:

            “Even in the worst of times, someone makes a profit”

            I think we can all take comfort in that.

          • kromelizard says:

            http://updates.gawker.com/post/34986727036/trump-at-the-pump-the-full-story-of-his-post-sandy-gas

            Donald Trump can afford to arrange for special deals to secure gas for his show. Consumer and supplier engaging in mutually beneficial transaction… to the detriment of the public good by locking up and hoarding an outsized amount of a resource in short supply. This is the face of profiteering. This is what happens. It doesn’t get gas to people who desperately need it to keep their lives from completely falling apart. It goes to keeping some rich dirtbag’s shitty show on TV.

            That you would call the well established and enshrined in law market regulations restricting disaster profiteering that exist in every functioning economy in the world a “fantasy called fairness” demonstrates the sheer bloody minded ignorance of your viewpoint. It’s YOUR free market fantasy that’s a goddamn evil nightmare. You’d reduce the U.S. to third world conditions to alleviate yourself of a short term inconvenience.

          • wysinwyg says:

            You really do sound like a teenager who just read The Fountainhead for the first time though.

            Incidentally, it’s not the profit motive itself that is “evil.”  It’s what you can do with it.  Yes, it’s not obvious what point I’m making.  Think about it.

          • acerplatanoides says:

            Dan. Consumers and Suppliers say HAS BEEN HAD. Committes met. Rules were hashed out. Civilization settled.

            You coming along later, not well informed and self important, doesn’t trump the past.

            It happened. Work to change what you don’t like, but the whinging isn’t going to make you many allies.

  30. L_Mariachi says:

    There has been too much violence, too much pain.  But I have an honorable compromise:  Just walk away.  

  31. BarBarSeven says:

    Free gas being distributed on Staten Island. pic.twitter.com/TkXFQpwK

  32. Paul Shapiro says:

    I got this relevant Facebook ad.

  33. IRMO says:

    If gas station owners were allowed to sell their gas for $20, these Craiglist opportunists would not be able to. It would still be gouging, (if you care – I don’t), but at least it wouldn’t be a major fire hazard added to an already difficult situation. 

  34. BarBarSeven says:

    I’m writing this from Brooklyn, NY in an apartment without heat & I do not own a car.  Also speaking of “Russia”, Brighton Beach (aka: Little Odessa) has been devastated by the flood & gas is short there. Those people actually are from Russia & as someone who grew up in the neighborhood as Russian immigrants took over I assure you of one thing: Gougers & looters will not be treated kindly.

    This is not the “free market” at play. This is profiteering & scumbagness.

    PS: Some folks in NYC are actually delivering gas at less than “fair prices”… They are getting gas & just donating it.

  35. grimc says:

    You want to pay $100 for 5 gallons during a disaster? Russia’s the place for you, tough guy.

  36. BarBarSeven says:

    The problem is the gas they are hoarding can be donated. People are in need.  This “boom” is going to last a few days. If nobody buys that gasoline, the price goes back to normal.  The profiteers could be heroes by donating. Instead, they hoard while others suffer.  They deserve nothing.

  37. BarBarSeven says:

    People need food & water in NYC as well. Guess what? People are donating that for free.  Only the gas hoarders are gouging others.  

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