The Immoral Price Gouging of the Markets


Courtesy of Nicholas Kamm/ Getty Images

Numerous stores across the nation have been accused of price gouging their hand sanitizer, with one store being held accountable for charging $1 a squirt.

Gabby McCutchan, Section Editor

To say that supermarkets have been swarmed since the start of the coronavirus scare is an immense understatement. Practically all the essentials are wiped clean off the shelves before they’ve even been restocked by market employees. And to make it all worse, a new enemy has surfaced in the market amongst the growing crowd of hoarders, xenophobes, and racists: Price gougers. 

To put it simply, price gougers increase the price of a demanded product to an exponential degree in the hopes of taking advantage of people who are in desperate need. Price gouging is seen most prevalently during a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a hurricane; or during a scare, like an international pandemic such as this. 

Consumers first noticed signs of price gouging when the prices of face masks surged drastically, when prices went up by an alarming 166%.

Although retail giant Amazon has recently been attempting to prevent itself from price gouging, it’s impossible to deny that the corporation is ultimately guilty of marking up its prices for goods such as hand sanitizer and face masks (USA Today).

The New York Times recently announced that Amazon has officially suspended about 4,000 sellers due to their unethical listings for price gouging, and they have worked with national attorneys to hold “predatory vendors” accountable for their actions. 

Many sources will argue that price gouging, in a way, helps “fix” the markets back into normalcy after an event like this has occurred. Sources such as FEE (Foundation for Economic Education) will assert that it is best to let the market straighten itself out, and that interference is not necessary. 

Nonetheless, all price gouging does is ensure that essential goods are transferred from lower classes to the upper classes. Which is particularly interesting to me, seeing that it’s usually the lower class workers who are put more at risk of catching the virus. Typically, those in the lower classes hold jobs at fast food restaurants, grocery stores, delivery services, etc., which for the most part demands person-to-person contact. 

So by taking advantage of the lower classes by price gouging and handing everything to the upper classes, communities are put more at risk as those in essential jobs who make contact with hundreds of people a day cannot prepare themselves from preventing their body from catching the coronavirus.

Greed is the drive that compels people to take advantage of others in order to make a quick buck. But greed such as this is what is going to send numbers upon numbers of people to the hospital, including those who price gouge, because they weren’t given the essentials that they wanted, needed, and deserved.