Friday, November 2, 2012

Sandy, Part 2: "Price Gouging" and Hard Currency

  20 Liter Jerry Gas Can

I'm just old enough that I remember long lines, waiting to gas up my mom's orange Maverick.  Forty years later, my business partner just left my house (Metar Weather's backup facility as our offices lost power!) because he "has a line on a car under a big tree with a full tank of gas."  No, he's not stealing it.  It's a friends' car.

Why?  Price gouging is illegal.  In other words "absence of price controls is illegal."

So, what happens?  Instead of selling gas for dollars, we sell gasoline for time plus dollars.  Gasoline doesn't get to those who need it most, or value it most, except through reasonably dangerous, probably illegal transactions.

Solution: Gasoline backed hard currency.

Licensed drivers in a state receive vouchers that are exchangeable into gasoline during officially designated times of crisis. The vouchers are freely tradeable.  When a governor declares crisis, best guess estimates will determine the amount of gas available for purchase in exchange for a voucher, assuming all the available gasoline is divided amongst outstanding vouchers.

If I am a non-driver, I can sell my voucher to someone who really needs or wants to drive.

If I must drive to get to work, I can get my entitlement without fighting the hoards and wasting hours searching and waiting.

If I am so inclined (more common than you'd think) I can burn gasoline with reckless abandon in my 1000 watt generator to keep my cell phone and wi-fi hotspot going.

Lastly, just in case we need some political fun and games, state governments could reasonably easily "inflate" their way out of the problem that fire trucks and tree removal crews cannot get enough, leading to 50 independent "State Reserve Boards" setting monetary policy!