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Friday, September 9, 2005

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

Price gouging
is good

“There are growing concerns that oil companies are making too much in profits at the expense of consumers,” New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici said.

“The president needs to have emergency powers to halt gas price gouging,” Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington said.

The above two quotes are pulled from a September 7 Associated Press story about the rise in gas prices following Hurricane Katrina.

Welcome to the world of the closet communist.

I must admit that at one time I could be lumped into that group when it came to “price gouging.”

I know in high school that my first reaction to a steep rise in prices tied to a natural disaster was revulsion.

Darn it, it was just plain evil to jack prices up just because there was a hurricane or tornado or whatever the disaster of the week was.

Eventually I grew out of such foolishness, but I think it is a fairly natural reaction.

Actually, I did not grow out of anything; I was educated out of it. I now believe that price gouging is not only not evil, but actually good.


You bet?

How can it be good?

For two reasons:

First it is no different than any other day of the week in a free market. Businesses charge the maximum that they can for their product so as to maximize profit. If I thought I could charge $10 /copy for this newspaper, I would do it in a heartbeat - just like every other guy selling widgets, a service or his time.

We all do. To do less is to cheat our families and ourselves.

Workers charge the maximum rate they can for their labor. Factories charge the maximum rate they can for their goods. Stores do the same. It is called a free market and the free market system has brought more real wealth, more nutrition, more shoes, more roofs, more heat and air conditioning, more food, more everything to people than any other economic system ever devised.

But, should not we put aside our desire to make a profit and just help people when something happens like a hurricane?

Well, maybe. And if an individual wants to, I’m all for it. The government putting a gun to my head and telling me to play nice, I can do without.

But, the second reason that price gouging is good, and this is the kicker, is that it conserves resources - and conservation of resources is exactly what needs to happen when a disaster limits supplies.

There is no better means to conserve resources for those that really need them than price.

Lets take gasoline. Right now there is a real concern that gasoline production in the coming months is not going to match our usual demand - there is not going to be enough to go around for our usual driving and heating and such.

In response to this concern gasoline related businesses from producers to refiners to the guys pumping it at the filling station have raised the price.

A lot.

Okay, what is the effect?

The effect is that we drive less. She-who-must-be-obeyed has put a clamp on non-essential driving at our house and I’ll bet my bottom dollar the same holds true across the country.

What would the effect be if the government imposed a gasoline price control? Well, the price would be cheaper. I would probably drive more. I would then use more gasoline.

Unfortunately, the supply for my usual usage does not exist. The end result is that for a short time we would all enjoy cheap driving as usual, and then one day we would show up at the pump and there would not be any gasoline to buy.


The higher the price the more inventive mom and I will be when it comes to conserving fuel.

And, as we all conserve, not because we want to but because finances demand it, we conserve the limited supply available.

I might not be driving to Big Bend to watch the sunset, or Odessa to get a cheeseburger, but there will probably be enough gas available for me to get my children to school and myself to work.

It may not be fun, or even nice, but price is by far the most effective way to conserve resources - even in times of disaster.

Your View

Reader disagrees with history interpretation

To the Editor:

I continue to disagree with you about history and particularly our independence from England. It must have been great sport for the Americans to hide and shoot the British shoulders in their red coats with their squirrel rifles and the Braddock defeat was due to pure leadership and his unfamiliarity with Indian methods. Washington was an aid to Braddock at the time, 1775.

Louis XVI of France sent 6,000 men under General Rochambeau to America. The French navy under Admiral Grasse was a large part of our victory. Grasse sent General Saint-Simon to strike Cornwallis at Chesapeake. The forces of Washington, Rochambeau, Saint-Simon and Virginia militia totaled 15,000 men when they defeated Conrwallis October 17, 1781. Not a guerrilla operation.

The last fighting on American soil was when George Rogers Clark collected 1,100 mounted riflemen and routed the British-allied Indians who had raided into Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky. He defeated a guerrilla force.

The Gauls in circa 400 BC sacked and burned Rome but the Romans drove them back. Julius Caesar, thinking that he had lost favor with the Romans, decided he would stack everything upon a siege or Alisea where Vecingetorix had gathered 30,000 troops. Caesar had gathered about the same number of troops when he heard that the Gauls were marching toward him with 250,000 men. Caesar fortified the city and Vecingetorix and his allies, after repeated attempts to defeat Caesar, surrendered and that decided the fate of Gaul. I would say that Gaul’s 250,000 troops was not a guerrilla force. It is hard to think that Gaul with 250,000 troops could be considered a guerrilla force.

More to come in another letter after developing the idea that Great Britain is not an imperialist nation as we are not. Secretary Powell made that clear when he told a group of India and British West Africa should be an interesting topic. Were the Brits defeated by guerillas or did they relinquish authority? Sincerely,

Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan

Dear Editor:

By your actions over the past two weeks it is clear that you missed an important aspect of Civics 101: With rights come responsibilities. You certainly have the right to voice your opinion against the war in Iraq and the President's policies. You even have the right to camp outside the President's home in Crawford and demand he meet with you. Your status as a mother who has lost a child in the war also gives your words and actions a credibility and a larger audience than otherwise would be the case. Now that your supporters have given you a broad forum from which to be heard, making you a national figure, its time you considered your responsibilities to all of us. I have a daughter set to deploy to Fallujah in two weeks and I have a serious concern with how your irresponsible and short sighted actions might impact on her. She is, after all, a volunteer, like your son, and she is going in harm's way because she believes it is her responsibility to protect your rights and freedoms.

Well meaning people like you always seem to forget the law of unintended consequences and in your vanity and arrogant self-righteousness never bother to think through what it is you are trying to do versus what you may actually accomplish. I am here to inform you, Ma'am, that you will not change the policy of our government by sitting outside Crawford making a spectacle of yourself in the name of your rights to free speech; what you will do is provide more propaganda for our enemies and cost the lives of even more brave and selfless American warriors. How long do you think it will be before you become a star on Al Jazeera? For all I know, it may have already happened. One thing is certain, though, and that is that your actions and words will further embolden a ruthless and evil enemy and more American blood will be shed and some of it will be on your hands. I pray that my daughter will not be one of them. If she is, then I will hold you and those like you partly responsible. Yes, my daughter's fate will depend mostly on her own courageous decision to serve, but only the most naive among us can deny the impact our own words and actions here in America have in a world grown smaller by the revolution in communications technology.

I am sure you believe that you are serving some great cause by putting our servicemen and women in more danger and that you can, by your irresponsible exercise of free speech, help end a policy you disagree with. Your emotion may be compelling but the reality is that you will not set in motion any process that will change or undo what has been done. The war will go on because to end it now would dishonor the sacrifice of all of our fellow countrymen who have died in the cause of fighting terrorism. Rational Americans will not allow that. Too much is at stake. Unfortunately, shallow and irrational ones, such as yourself, will continue to put the lives of our sons and daughters in danger by aiding and abetting an enemy who sees propagandizing in the mass media as its main weapon in a war it could otherwise not win standing on its own wretched and evil justification of radical Islam, or by force of arms. You, Ma'am, have joined forces with an evil you neither understand nor apparently have tried to comprehend. You direct your anger toward our country while the enemy plots to kill and maim the innocent. You make a mockery of responsible free speech while thousands of young men and women fight desperately to preserve your safety. Instead of honoring your son's sacrifice you are inspired to comfort an evil enemy.

You clearly do not understand the challenge we face as a nation and have not tried to put it in historical perspective. It is a sad fact that it is those of your thinking that have led us to where we are today. Decades of appeasement to these haters of everything we hold dear has cost thousands of American lives from Beirut to New York and in dozens of other forgotten places. Remember Lockerbie? The Achille Lauro? The USS Cole? We as a people were dragged into this war, much like December 7th, 1941, and we must fight and win it wherever the enemy hides and against whomever would support him. Make no mistake about Iraq. It is both a legitimate and crucial campaign in this much larger, global war of radical Islam's making. These people hate us for who we are, not what we have done. We did not bring this on ourselves, as many would have us believe, by our policies and actions abroad. We brought this on ourselves in 1775 when the Founding Fathers embarked on a course of freedom, tolerance, and liberal democratic and social ideals. These haters of all we hold dear strive to destroy forever a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" that Abraham Lincoln hoped would never "Perish from the earth". They would replace it with an oppressive world theocracy unlike anything modern history has ever seen for its ruthless disregard for personal freedom and liberty. If more appeasement is your answer for an alternative policy, spare us. We have suffered enough from cowardice and inaction.

An historical analogy screams to be let out here. It is one of two men, both named Chamberlain. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a school teacher turned soldier in the American Civil War, found himself in the crosshairs of history on a warm July day in 1863 on a small hill in Pennsylvania. Commanding the 20th Maine Regiment on the extreme Union left at Gettysburg he was in a most perilous position. Should he fail to hold against a strong Confederate attack, the Union could be lost. You see, he was serving in an increasingly unpopular war at home against a resurgent enemy, and for a President fighting for his political life. Colonel Chamberlain, stoic but determined, refused to yield. His small regiment held against an onslaught of Confederate attacks, an action many historians believe turned the tide of the war. He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The other half of this analogy focuses on Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain in the years preceding World War II. His story is widely known. Through his policy of appeasement and a lack of moral courage, he handed Adolf Hitler much of Europe. Which side of history have you chosen, Ma'am?

Your son died in the service of freedom and my daughter will go in harm's way to protect and preserve it. Honor their sacrifice, Ma'am, by exercising it responsibly.

I will pray with you and I will grieve with you but I will not stand by silent while you needlessly and arrogantly endanger the life of my daughter and her comrades in arms. Please bless us with your silence and go home. Brantley Smith
Proud father of a United States Marine
Tullahoma, TN
Posted 25 Aug 05 as a courtesy for varied opinions The Northwest Veterans Newsletter

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