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And IMO that's a good scenario where the State should intervene.

The main effect of government intervention in this case is to ensure dangerous shortages of basic goods in an emergency. That seems like an odd policy to cheer for.

It's an awfully big reach to assume that failure to purchase generators was directly caused by price-gouging controls.

The fact that margins on gas are slim does not mean gas stations struggle to get by. The gas is there to get people in the door to buy snacks, drinks, smokes, and lotto. Tobacco and lottery tickets alone make an absolute killing, and the station couldn't sell any of them while the power was out. The author of the article actually owns a gas station, and he figures the other owners were just short-sighted. I don't see any reason to doubt him.

What? The base level intervention here would be to require stations to have a generator capable of powering the pumps (and maybe the computer systems to accept payments). That's not that big of an ask actually a generator able to do just that won't be very large and it could be fueled directly from their existing storage tanks.

- Gov't enforces price controls on basic goods (eg. gasoline)

  = Nobody delivers gasoline into high-risk areas. Shortages persist.
- Prices allowed to float higher on shortages

  = Lines of trucks can be observed from *orbit*, attempting to enter the area to supply the demand; prices drop almost immediately.
Which would you prefer?

The issue in the article wasn't an actual shortage of gas, the gas was there it just couldn't be accessed because of the power outage. The pumps and payment processing equipment isn't that power hungry and could be powered by a small generator.

I'm not sure I see much distinction between (a) a shortage of usable gas because nobody is bringing in gas, versus (b) a shortage of usable gas because nobody is bringing in generators to run the pumps. In both cases people could get access to a lot more gasoline if there was enough money to be made by, say, loading up a pickup truck and driving quickly to the affected area.

... But it sounds like you're not arguing for price controls, specifically, but for some kind of government intervention. I agree that requiring backup generators sounds like a much better policy than anti-price-gouging laws, since it's at least not obviously counterproductive.

It's strange when one feel-good state intervention makes a problem worse, and to combat that, we recommend another feel-good state intervention that will likely make things worse still.

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