Do you know how to make sure a gas station is always operational and has gas on hand to serve any and all consumers who might show at all times of the day?
Neither do the President, the Governors of New York and New Jersey, various federal, state, local executives and legislators etc.
But, there are people who do.
The NYC/NJ area is now entering the 11th day of gas shortage following Sandy.
In addition to the State of New Jersey, New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk counties have just announced that they are going to initiate a gas rationing scheme.
All so that the price on the signs outside gas stations doesn't go up.
There is nothing we can do about the fact that gas is now more scarce in this area as a result of a natural disaster.
But, the continued shortage is simply a man-made disaster.
If gas stations were allowed to charge whatever price they wanted, they would undertake whatever expense is necessary to bring in additional quantities of gas or keep their stations operational at prices consumers are willing to pay.
If station owners can recoup their expenses, they would make sure that all consumers who are willing to pay at least the marginal cost of putting a gallon of gas in their tank right here right now would be able to get it.
Sure, that might mean that in some places at some points, the price of gas may shoot up to $10/gallon. But, those spikes would be short lived.
People might protest that's a high price. Well, you're going to pay either way: Either you end up stock in line in cold, dank weather, fighting with black-marketers, living in perpetual anxiety that one day you're going to get stuck in traffic for too long and run out of gas, or, you can pay a few dollars extra for a few days.
I used to tell my students that the reason people in Somalia starved was not because they had no idea how to grow food.
Similarly, the reason people in the NYC/NJ area are going without gas, and wasting countless hours at gas stations is not because no one in this area knows how to keep gas stations operating and supplied.
It is a pity that in this day and age, we have to relive the bad old days of the 70s in, of all places, the United States of America.