Are raising prices a crime?

Wall Street Journal on the absurdity of legislation on “price gouging”. Not only have previous investigations over the pase few decades turned up few cases of price gouging, but the language of the bill loosely defines price gouging as anyone who raises prices for any reason, or any fuel seller with higher prices than other sellers in their area.

Meanwhile a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story (hat tip to Club for Growth) covers how a few small, independent service stations have decided to stop sell gas for fear of being charged as price gougers. Why? The price of gasoline that they buy wholesale are almost as high as what the large, franchised stations sell retail – and the cost of credit card service charges more than make up that difference in price.

On a personal note, this is the same situation my father faced before getting rid of his gas pumps, as the prices he paid more for gasoline from the distributor than other stations were selling for. Incidently, not only could he be accused of price gouging, but of “undercutting” competitors with absurdly low prices on oil changes and tire repairs – because he didn’t increase what he charged for his own labor for about 20 years.