[Ed. note: This post follows yesterday’s post by Donald Hertzmark challenging a call for federal price controls on energy.]
The spectacular problems that beset the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricane Katrina have led analysts of weather emergencies to look elsewhere for leadership, or even evidence of competence.
Increasingly, that leadership has been found prominently in the private sector: among companies being recognized for their emergency response capabilities are big box retailers like Walmart and Home Depot and the regional restaurant chain Waffle House.
One reason that some government agencies may be failing is that their attention is directed to the wrong things. High on that list is policing against high prices during emergencies. Basic economic analysis finds that price gouging laws end up wasting state government resources and wasting consumers’ time during emergencies.…