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Post How Do You Combat Price Gouging? From Ric Mauricio
Created by John Eipper on 06/23/22 3:58 AM

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How Do You Combat Price Gouging? From Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA, 06/23/22 3:58 am)

Ric Mauricio writes:

Economics has a lot of moving parts, so controlling the numbers is at best an inexact science. Indeed, it may be more art than science.

If one were to strip away manipulations by corporations and/or government, pricing the cost of goods (inflation/deflation), would come down to basically a supply and demand equation.

More supply and less demand should eventually lead to lower prices. Vice versa, less supply and more demand should lead to higher prices. Currently, limited supplies and more demand due to more employees commuting back to the office, there is the opportunity for fuel distributors to charge what the market will bear. People ask me if the gas stations raising their prices in lockstep proves collusion amongst the fuel distributors and thus an anti-trust situation. Well, the government will have to have definitive proof that fuel distributors talk to each other and agreed to increase their prices in lockstep. Good luck with that. No, our guy doesn't talk to any other fuel distributor when he sets the prices. He has an algorithm that takes into account the cost of goods (fuel) and determines whether to raise or lower the retail price. He was the highest-paid employee on the payroll. He also has to determine what the market will bear in specific areas. It's complicated, which is why he gets paid the big bucks.

John E asks what options we have to combat this? Taking the above supply/demand equation, one would simply (simply in this case is not easy) increase supply or decrease demand or both. At this point, it would be easier to decrease demand by allowing more companies to allow more work-from-home employees. Again, easier said than done. Musk requires his employees to come into the office. On the supply side, increased importing of fuel from Canada would help supply. The shutdown on the Keystone XL pipeline inhibits the import of oil. It has been said that the pipeline is environmentally unsafe, but that is not true. In fact, transporting the fuel by truck is not only inefficient, using more fuel that goes into the air, but is inherently more dangerous on the roads.

Personally, I have taken steps to combat inflation. I refuse to pay the higher grocery prices that some products are now priced at. I am driving less and planning trips more efficiently, oftentimes bundling many stopovers to avoid the mileage. I am in the midst of xeriscaping my front yard (already did the backyard) to save water. I time my showers and utilize an on/off switch at the shower head to soap up. I noticed my personal gas/electric bill is half of what my neighbors are quoting. Yes, all my lighting is LED, but I am conscious of turning off the lights when I am not in the room.

I would like to figure out how to harness the wind (we have a good strong breeze coming in from the Bay) to generate electrical power. In fact, I noticed that between houses, the wind is the strongest, so it seems like a good location for a wind turbine.

If every person in the US were to personally combat their personal inflation, I am optimistic that we can overcome the headwinds. But it would take a concerted effort, which I am not sure the American people are up to. We are just too comfortable as things are.

But let's talk about comfortable music. "The best female voice in the world: melodic, tuneful and distinctive" (Paul McCartney). He was describing Karen Carpenter. Yes, to answer John E's query, I did set up the sound system at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium in July 1971. The Carpenters were the headliners with Mac Davis. I really never got to interact with Karen or her brother, Richard. We were just too busy. But I tell you, she made our sound system sound like a million dollars. What a voice. I totally agree with Paul McCartney. I did get to talk with Mac Davis. Really nice guy. His biggest hit was, "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me." What impressed me more was his composing talent. He composed songs that were performed by Elvis that I count as my favorite Elvis hits: "In the Ghetto," "Memories," "Don't Cry Daddy." If there was anyone that I would have loved to have the voice and looks, it would be Elvis, the svelte Elvis. OK, ok, I'll settle for the voice of Englebert Humperdinck or Roy Orbison. But Karen Carpenter's tragic story is sad. The story was she was abused by her husband which led to anorexia nervosa, which eventually killed her.

JE comments:  Amen, Sir Paul.  Karen Carpenter's greatest strength was her low range.  Flashy sopranos get all the attention, but a powerful alto touches the depths of your soul.  (I don't know if this image makes sense, but I really like the voice of Karen Carpenter.  She was also a first-rate drummer.)

Reducing demand is the best antidote to price gouging, and Ric, you've lowered your carbon (and water) footprint admirably.  What are other WAISers doing?  We're driving less, to be sure, and also thinking of installing solar panels at WAIS HQ.  Does anyone have advice?  It's very windy here too, but I don't think our Home Association allows windmills.  Possibly it's for the best; I'll have to do my tilting elsewhere.

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