Prof. P. Hughes
To Gouge, Or Not To Gouge?
In the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie in 2004, a debate was waged regarding alleged price gouging that took place and whether it was justifiable or not. On one side of the argument you have people who were in favor of the free-market concept and that vendors/retailers should be able to charge whatever the market will bear for their goods and services. On the other side were the people who supported price gouging laws and the government’s role of controlling such instances in the wake of tragedies such as Hurricane Charlie for the betterment or welfare of society as a whole. It is my opinion that the behavior of the vendors/retailers who were gouging these people was morally unacceptable and I will discuss it further in this paper.
This argument simply boils down to the ideas of self-interest and selfishness. We discussed these ideas in class and the difference between the two is that the selfish person does not care about the welfare of anyone but themselves. I believe that to be true in this particular instance as well. Business owners have the right to pursue their own self-interest, i.e. profits, but it should not come at the expense of exploiting the disenfranchised.
I can offer an example of this through my own personal experience. In August of 2003, I was working as a salesperson for a beverage company here in metro Detroit. During that month, there was a major blackout that left this area and a vast area of the eastern U.S. and a portion of Ontario without any power for a few days. The cause of this blackout was determined to be a bad power grid somewhere in Ontario, but with this happening a little less than two years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 there was some initial panic. Because of this, the management of the company that I worked for decided that it would be good for business to sell whatever water we had in our warehouse to the...