The first semester course in marketplace economics (see post below)obviously is beyond the level of Governor "Easy" Mike Easley and Attorney General Roy "I wanna be like Mike" Cooper in North Carolina. The Governor is fanning the flames of panic by saying North Carolina might "run out of gas". He's asking "all North Carolinians to conserve gas", has suspended all "non-essential" state travel (using government transportation), and has implored the state's citizens to "carpool" and "limit non-essential road trips".
Meanwhile, Cooper said yesterday he wanted to know about "price gouging" spotted by consumers, and warned that his staff would "look into" those reports. Fortunately, he may not have dozed off in economics class as much as it appears Easley did. To his credit, Cooper did note the current gas price increases "were probably not illegal". Nonetheless, it makes consumers believe there MAY be some shenanigans going on, which further stirs the pot. Except for a few odd-ball cases when the fuel price is way out of line with what other stations in a general area are charging, it still doesn't mean there is anything going on except the marketplace finding its equilibrium price.
Needless to say, it would be best if public pressure on these two state officials does not cause them to make a bad situation worse: The Governor COULD declare a "disaster", which would allow Cooper to go after "price gougers". That would set into motion an artificial marketplace where demand would continue to rise, prices couldn't change enough to slow the demand, and a shortage would definitely occur. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.