Can They Teach Politicians Any Basic Economics?

Every day everything is rationed by the price system. It seems to be a requirement of being a politician that you don't understand how that works.  When there is any kind of disaster, they go completely crazy.

Here we have our Attorney General, the ever-grandstanding Eric Schneiderman, investigating "Sandy price gouging."    "Our office has zero tolerance for price gouging," he is quoted as saying.  It seems that one store raised the price of a bag of potatoes from $3 to $7.  A gas station raised the price of a gallon by 83 cents.  Would the world be better off if the stores sold out of potatoes or gas on the first day and then nobody could get more at any price?

New York's General Business Law Section 396-r prohibits charging an "unconscionably excessive price" during an "abnormal disruption of the market." Is $4.89/gal an "unconscionably excessive price"?  In California they pay it every day.  As for New York, you'll have to ask Schneiderman to find out.

Meanwhile Mayor Bloomberg calls for gas rationing.  You need rationing because without a price mechanism to allocate the gas, you'll immediately run out.  How about hiring a few thousand bureaucrats to hand out ration cards?

The genius of the price allocation mechanism is that there is always supply, without having to go through a bureaucracy, if you can pay the price.