So a bunch of companies are getting in trouble in New Jersey for price gouging. In other words, selling items from more than what the fair market value is considered to be. In this case one of the companies was allegedly offering to sell 7 million face masks at a price of $6 each even though they retailed for roughly $1 each.

It always puzzled me how the government could tell a private business what to charge for goods or services. Part of doing business in a free market is understanding supply and demand. So when there’s a huge demand for things you may be able to get a higher price for them if the supply is low. That’s business 101.

I never even understand how they could cap the mark-up on concert tickets, for instance. Something is worth as much money as its inherent value to a buyer. If it’s difficult to procure, it’s probably worth more. Unless you don’t think so, in which case you don’t pay it. If you’re a collector and you’re looking for something specific that is difficult to find you would gladly shell out thousands more dollars than what its “market value” is to get it.

I learned about supply and demand in fourth grade. Why has this become so evil? People get emotional about masks and PPE because they feel like they are for a medical purpose. But medical suppliers are businesses also. And they constantly compete with each other to get contracts with healthcare providers, making deals and lowering and raising their prices to make the sale, just like any other business. If it’s masks that you’re selling, and you decide to mark them up, eventually someone else will cut the price to try to sell more of them.

That’s business. At least the way it works in a capitalist society. But most people complaining about price gouging aren’t fans of that old relic called “capitalism” anyway. They’s would be happy to allow the government to set the price for anything worth buying.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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