Anti-Gouging Laws Aren’t The Only Regulations That Make Disasters Worse

Dave Killion — November 12, 2012

As Antony wrote a few days ago, anti-gouging laws make disasters worse, not better , and since coastal British Columbia is destined to suffer a massive earthquake at some time, we should be concerned over this. The good news is that BC has, to the best of my knowledge, no anti-gouging laws, per se. How ever, the Emergency Program Act ’empowers’ the minister to do just about anything short of murder (if you think I exaggerate, please see this), including  –

“….fix prices for… food, clothing, fuel, equipment, medical supplies or other essential supplies and the use of any property, services, resources or equipment within any part of British Columbia for the duration of the state of emergency.” 

Given that every decision the Minister makes will be tempered by its likely effect in the voter’s booth at the next election, the popular appetite of an economically ignorant electorate for price controls during an emergency insures we will suffer long lines and shortages far in excess of what would otherwise be the case. Plan accordingly.

Sadder still, even if the government of the day is wise enough and in a secure enough position to do what’s right, rather than what’s expedient, there many other types of regulations which may serve to exacerbate difficulties. These include, but are not limited to –

1. Laws prohibiting out of district gas in the area.
2. Laws against selling gas direct from trucks.
3. Laws requiring meter inspections on fuel sales.
4. Laws requiring meter fume control.

Storing gas is a difficult proposition, but I’ve decided not to let any of my vehicles get below half empty (half full?), and I’ll keep a full 5-gallon container in my carport. In the face of disaster, both natural- and man-made, this is likely to prove both trivial and pathetic, but there is at least some comfort in doing something more than nothing.



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