Circumscribing Gouging = Circumscribing Private Property

Business,Capitalism,Economy,Ethics,Individual Rights,Objectivism,Political Economy,Private Property,Reason

Rights-based arguments are seldom made by members of the media and their guests. In explaining what a (semantic) aberration the term gouging is John Stossel opted to privilege the utilitarian angle. So did his guests.

Like any voluntary exchange of goods, “gouging” amounts to free people exchanging property to which they hold title. Each relinquishes something he values less (money/goods/labor) for something he values more (money/goods/labor).

John Stossel and guests prefer to stick to purely utilitarian economics. That’s the mindset that prevails.

I’d like to hear our side argue for freedom by saying that, whether free markets work or not is secondary to the unalienable, immutable, rights of men. It so happens that—surprise!—upholding the absolute rights of the individual to life, liberty and property works very well. Wealth redounds to all.

Bless Stossel for his efforts to promote economic literacy, over decades. However, I listened to Steve Horowitz last night, and then “muted” when Stossel made the perennial decision that guides the dueling perspectives political panel.

Rather than let Steve enlighten, Stossel allowed the reality denier to hog the stage with a perversion, not a version, of the truth.

“By presenting the public with two competing perspectives—you mislead viewers into believing that indeed there are two realities, and that it is up to them to decide which one is more compelling.”

This positively postmodernist format would be fine were Rome not burning. However, “a Homeric contest is underway in the USA. Rome is burning. Now is not the time to fiddle or to unwittingly defraud the public.”

As I wrote in “More Chris Christie Cretinism*: Outlawing Price ‘Gouging,’” in addition to acting as “the street signs of the economy,” “prices are the prerogative of private property”:

In a free market, the institute of private property ensures that we have prices. “Prices are like a compass: pegged to supply and demand they ensure the correct allocation of resources. Without market prices, supply and demand cannot be brought into balance and, by extension, consumer needs cannot be satisfied. Conversely, in socialized systems there are no prices because there is no private property. Absent such knowledge, misuse, misallocation and mismanagement of capital are inevitable.”