What’s It Worth?
Thanks go to Combest for linking to this silly news report about "price-gouging." The Missouri Attorney General’s office is warning us to watch out for it. Here’s a quote:
Several businesses including hotels, a gas station and a hardware store settled claims they charged customers more than market value for their goods and services following January’s ice storm.
What do they mean by "more than market value"? If some people are willing to sell and others are willing to buy at a price, then that is the market price. This reminds me of one of my first econ courses, in which I had to read Aristotle and other ancients, who thought goods had several different values: the price they sell for, how useful they are, their intrinsic goodness, etc. I guess defining value is an interesting philosophical question, but since philosophers haven’t solved it in a few thousand years, I doubt the Missouri Attorney General will make much progress before the next ice storm.
We don’t want state officials fixing the price of goods for us, especially in times of shortage like right after storms. That’s so former Soviet Union.