Bob's Links and Rants

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Gimme a break


From Vic Harville.

From Jeff Parker.

I'm continuing my lonely vigil as perhaps the only pro-gouging blogger on the Internet. If a tornado comes through Ann Arbor and opens a hole in my roof, I'll gladly pay four times the normal price for plywood from the first guy who comes down my street with it--and I'll be totally pissed if the cops arrest him before he gets to me.

I was watching a TV station from Jackson, Mississippi over the Internet yesterday, and they kept flashing the 800 number for the gouging hotline on the bottom of the screen. Stopping people from bringing hurricane victims what they need--obviously a top priority. If you want to condemn someone for exploiting tragedy, go after aWol and his shameless ongoing exploitation of 9/11, something that was at the very least partially his own fault. The guys trying to sell $500 generators for $1000 in Mississippi had nothing to do with Katrina. They're taking a risk to provide a service and make some money. America is supposed to admire that, not arrest it. We let big-time wage gougers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot operate, then go after the little guy with the pickup truck.

Along with the media-hyped hatred for "gougers" is their hissing anger at "looters." Mississippi governor Haley Barbour said a lot of things yesterday, many of them sensible and intelligent, but the one that CNN's Paula Zahn couldn't resist from repeating over and over again was when Barbour said that looters would be dealt with "ruthlessly." Zahn said this with evident glee. And one of the CNN reporters mentioned seeing video of 50 people coming out of a Winn Dixie supermarket with shopping carts full of groceries. He shook his head with disdain for these obvious dregs of humanity. It didn't sound like he'd even investigated whether the store might have still been open, or pondered how long that food was likely to last with the power out, possibly for weeks.

People going door to door stealing DVD players while the homeowners are away is one thing--but people who may have just lost everything, including their food, going and grabbing some stuff off the Winn Dixie shelves (which they might well have paid for if the store was open) is clearly another. "Ruthlessly" is not the way to deal with them. Chances are that the "official" way for them to eat would be to wait three days for FEMA or the Red Cross to set up food tents--with food donated by Winn Dixie.