Great. Looks like it’s hoarding time again for gasoline.

Hoarding can be unfortunately rational, you see, if prices aren’t allowed to give consumers accurate information about a temporary relative scarcity. People won’t be incentivized to conserve voluntarily, nor would they then be able to buy according to the depth of their need. It’ll be first come, first served. Consume as if nothing’s changed until the good is exhausted and everyone is unhappy.

And here we go again. WRAL reports:

Attorney General Roy Cooper is reminding residents that North Carolina’s price gouging law remains in effect. A previous shutdown of the same gas pipeline in September triggered the law, which went into effect again in October after Hurricane Matthew and remains in effect statewide.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat McCrory said his administration is monitoring the explosion for possible disruptions to the state’s gasoline supply. He also urged citizens not to participate in panic buying, saying it would only make the situation worse. The governor said the pipeline provides 70 percent of North Carolina’s gasoline supply.

shortageOf course, if 70 percent of the supply of a thing is lost, and the demand for that thing hasn’t changed, then the price of that thing has to rise or we will quickly run out of it, and then no one can have any no matter how much they need it.

Nevertheless, the last time this happened, Cooper* said the following:

A supply crunch shouldn’t be an excuse to rip off people who need gas.

If you don’t see what’s wrong with that, read my phrase-by-phrase dismantling of it.

Or watch this lesson from Raleigh:

*Nota bene: Yes, the Roy Cooper who wants to prosecute people for temporarily raising prices on scarce bottled water and hotel rooms is the same Roy Cooper who still supports Obamacare despite premiums skyrocketing up permanently, a 24 percent increase this year hot on the heels of a 34 percent increase last year.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...