Monday, November 12, 2012

Gas price contest

As all of you know, New York and New Jersey are having huge gas lines in the wake (still) of hurricane Sandy. Both are enforcing laws against "gouging," and New Jersey's attorney general, apparently having time on his hands, is going after people who listed gas for resale on Craigslist.

Let's start a little comments essay contest. If New York and New Jersey let people charge whatever they wanted for gas, and prices went up to $25 per gallon then...

Here are some ideas to get you started

  • People would voluntarily stay home.
  • Rather than allocating gas to people with time on their hands to wait in line, gas would go to people who are really busy. 
  • People would voluntarily form carpools. Better, they would advertise for paying carpool mates on Craigslist, and the minivan owner running it would be able to get gas. 
  • People who have emergencies, like wife needing to go to the hospital to deliver a baby, could get gas to do so. 
  • Ditto emergency services, fire, ambulances, cops
  • Gas stations would have bought generators, so they could pump and sell gas at a big profit when the power goes out.
  • Gas stations would buy said generators now. (We need to get rid of gouging laws on the generators too, so that gas stations needing generators can pay through the nose to get them, instead of someone who wants to recharge his iphone.)
  • People who don't have to go anywhere would siphon their gas and sell it neighbors. Or second-car gas. 
  • They'd siphon their lawnmowers too.
  • People would rent tanker trucks, drive around the northeast, buy gas and resell it in NY.
  • Actually, people might get a bunch of gas cans and drive the gas in from rural areas in the back of pickups. Not sure if this is a good idea, especially for smokers, but it would improve gas supplies.  
  • Exxon would have spent the money for more storage tanks in NJ, ready to sell gas at high prices in an emergency. 
OK, you get the idea. I took the low hanging fruit, but you've got time on your hands, obviously, you're reading a blog. Let's see some creativity here. 

Interactions between gas and New York's reported prohibitions on home made food for shelter, tree clearance without permits, restrictive taxi and limo licensing laws, taxi prices, etc. are especially welcome. 

Stories of market adaptation to rationing rules are also welcome.  I gather that with AG prosecution for gas pricing in the air, Craigslist ads now ask $5 for gallon of gas. $100 for container. Are local teenagers yet starting little businesses to go get gas for neighbors? --"For $25 I'll go wait in line and fill up your car?" Are people swapping plates yet?