In a free market there is no such thing as price “gauging,” just transactions undertaken pursuant to voluntary agreement between the parties on price and all the other terms of the transaction. From Laurence M. Vance at lewrockwell.com:
In the midst of an old article about the personalities on the American Pickers television show, I noted this particular sentence for future reference: “One of the criticisms of American Pickers is that they basically rip people off by buying things real cheap so they can sell them for a huge profit.” Buying things cheap and selling them for a huge profit—isn’t that the goal of every American business? If that is not the goal of a business, then why is it in business?
People are applauded by the “sharks” on the show Shark Tank when they say that something costs them x to make and they sell it for y. “Wow, that’s a great margin,” I have heard it said many times.
There are many books and articles that have been written about “retail arbitrage”; that is, purchasing a product from a local retail outlet for a low price and then selling it for a higher price on Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist.
So why does there exist the ridiculous non-crime of price gouging? And why is it a federal offense?
In Puerto Rico, the U.S. Attorney’s Office just charged Tonatiuh Antonio Leal-Matos with “two counts of violating the Defense Production Act (50 U.S.C. § 4512) in relation to price gouging personal protective equipment (“PPE”), face masks and disinfecting wipes, during the COVID-19 national public health emergency.”