Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined Thursday’s “The Glenn Beck Radio Program” to talk about Texans’ “remarkable” response to Tropical Storm Harvey as well as the politics of price gouging.

“Overall, it’s been a remarkable effort,” Paxton said. “Any loss of life is horrible, but it’s been amazingly low given the magnitude and the length of this storm.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state and federal officials have worked together to mitigate damage from the storm and make sure stranded people are rescued. They have been joined by volunteers from around the country.

“This is the toughest time in my lifetime,” Glenn Beck said. “I’ve never seen our country more divided. And look at what the people of Texas [are doing] coming from all over the region just to go in and help.”

There will be some fluctuation for the price of water, gasoline and other necessities simply because the storm has shut down the country’s biggest oil refinery, reducing how much gas is available to use and to transport goods.


“Gas will go up to some degree,” Paxton said. “Supply and demand is going to be affected here.”

While some expense is normal, an unreasonable increase to products that the government defines as price gouging is against the law.

“Do you remember when the Supreme Court had to deal with pornography, and they basically said, ‘We know it when we see it?’  When I see gas prices at $20 a gallon, I know it’s price gouging. When I saw water at $100 a case, I know it’s price gouging,” Paxton said. “When I see gas at $2.57, it’s probably not price gouging.”

Based on historic price and context from the current market, officials use discretion to keep people from being ripped off, he asserted.

“We’re not talking about price gouging as it relates to anything other than things that really are critical to people surviving,” Paxton said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

GLENN: Lots to talk about today. First, I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the country, but here in Texas, I think there’s going to be a lot of people that are late for work. Because anybody who got up this morning and was driving in and saw the little red light go on and went, “Uh-oh, I got to go get gas,” you are now sitting in a line. And that line is getting longer. We could be out of gas in Texas by the — by the weekend.

Ninety percent of all of the gasoline that fuels the cars at least in Texas — and I bet it’s the greater southwest region, comes out of Houston. Forty-two percent of all of the jet fuel comes out of Houston. Those refineries are now gone, or at least shut down.

We don’t know when they will start refining again and when trucks will be replenishing again. This is going to affect all of us. We just have to keep our heads about us. And we also have to discuss, how are we going to get some of the — how is this going to affect the people who are just getting on the road with their trucks and their cars, and they’re going to help?

You can’t really drive down to Houston, four hours away, if you can’t get gas somewhere along the way to get you back.

We’ve had another wrinkle added now to the hurricane in Houston. We begin there and also talk a little about price gouging with the attorney general in Texas. Ken Paxton joins us. We begin, right now.
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GLENN: This is a really weird situation because the — the — if I warn you about gas, it’s going to make people go and sit in lines and everybody starts to hoard gas. And I got to get my lawn mower filled. It’s probably not the right move.

But I warn you now because I want you to think about this weekend. This is Labor Day Weekend. Especially if you’re in the — in the Dallas area or the Texas area, we get our gas from those refineries.

JEFFY: Yeah, but nobody has to worry until after this program is over.

GLENN: Right.

JEFFY: Then it’s fine. Once I go fill up my car, after the show, then — then they can worry.

GLENN: Right. Well, we got the tweet from a guy in New York just a little while ago that said — what was it? It went up 17 cents in an hour, or half an hour?

STU: Yeah, another person writes: Gas here in Cincinnati went up 2.23 to 2.59 in the day.

GLENN: I mean, you know, it’s going to impact all of us, this hurricane. It’s going to impact us hard. But those oil refineries — it’s my understanding, these oil refineries were locked down tight. We didn’t have a problem with winds, just flooding. And it’s my understanding that, you know, this can and will come back online as soon as the waters recede. And they’re going to start those plants back up. Is that your understanding, Stu? Not really?

STU: Yeah. I’m not…

GLENN: Can we get? Keith! Let’s see if we can get somebody on from the oil industry. I know they’re probably not busy at all, but to give us some information about these oil refineries. And perhaps Ken Paxton knows a little about this, even though this is not his area of expertise. He is our attorney general.

Ken, how are you, sir?

KEN: I’m doing well. How are you this morning?

GLENN: I’m good. Thank you for all of the hard work, and please pass on to the governor how proud we are of him and what a good job he is doing.

KEN: You know, I would have to totally agree. The magnitude of the storm and what they’ve had to deal with over a long period of time, and obviously still continues. I’m amazed, the job that both the federal and state government have done working together.

GLENN: You know, I know that there was a disagreement — and I — I would have been on the wrong side of this disagreement, I think. And I don’t know who had what side, and it doesn’t matter.

But there was a disagreement on when to evacuate people. And I think the city of Houston said, “No, no, we’re not going to evacuate.” Which in New Orleans, worked out horribly.

The way this is stacking up, it might have been a blessing that we didn’t have a whole bunch of people, a million people on the road, stuck in traffic on Houston when this thing rolled in.

KEN: Yeah, it’s so hard to know. Because you’ve got 7 million people or more down in the Houston area. And to try to evacuate that — we’re not talking about evacuating some small town. We’re talking about a massive effort. I don’t even know how you get that many people out.

So I don’t know, maybe some could have evacuated. We could look at that later.

I do think overall, it’s been a remarkable effort. And if you look at loss of life, obviously any loss of life is horrible, but it’s been amazingly low, given the magnitude and the length of this storm and what we’re still dealing with.

GLENN: I have to tell you, I can’t get my arms around how low those numbers are.

Are we concerned that when the waters recede, we’re going to just start going through homes, and we’re just going to find a lot of people, or are we pretty sure that this is relatively stable? I mean, we know we’re going to find a lot more people, but that we haven’t lost an eye-bleed amount of people, is astonishing.

KEN: Yeah. You just think about the magnitude of the storm coming to shore, we could have lost hundreds, if not thousands of people. And who knows what the future holds and what we’re going to find. I can just say, I think they’ve done an amazing job rescuing people. They’ve gotten resources in place.

The federal government was there early and quick and offered up everything we needed. And Abbott and his team have done an amazing job, just keeping this thing going and making sure that we get this thing done right.

GLENN: I will tell you that this is where — you know, having the governor and the — and the president and everybody on board come in handy as now cleanup and real big, huge infrastructure pieces need to be moved.

But I have been — it is — it is proof to me why I moved here five or six years ago, when I said on the air, “There are going to be tough times, and you just have to know that the people around you have the same kind of attitude, that when push comes to shove, we’re all neighbors.”

I mean, we’ve never been — I don’t remember the 1960s. I was like four.

KEN: Me too.

GLENN: But I know those were tough times in our — in my lifetime. This is the toughest time in my lifetime. I’ve never seen our country more divided. And look at the people of Texas, coming from all over the region, just to go in and help. Without the government, without anybody organizing, just, “I got a boat. I’m going in.”

KEN: Well, not only that, hundreds of people have done that, and it wasn’t like it was not risky for them. They were risking their lives.

GLENN: I know.

KEN: You know, there’s just so much at stake for them personally. They didn’t have to do it. You would think people would want to go out and save their own families, and yet they came back to help. So it does say a lot about the type of people that live in Texas, and it’s really encouraging, given what you just talked about, the divisive nature of what’s going on in our country and how difficult it is. And yet, you see in Texas, we — we’ve had a devastating hurricane, devastating storms. And yet, you know we’ll come back.

GLENN: Ken, I know this is not in your purview, and I’m sorry to hit you with this and even the questions I’m asking you. Because this is not what you do for a living.

But have you heard any talk at all about the gasoline situation? We’re seeing — I mean, stopping at four different gas stations here in the Dallas area on the way into work, four of them had signs on the pumps, out of gas. Ninety percent of all of the fuel coming into Texas is coming in from those refineries that have all been shut down. Are we concerned at all about running out of gas temporarily? Do you have any clue as to what’s happening with the gas situation?

KEN: Well, I do think that we’re going to start getting supplies from other places. But I think gas is going to go up to some degree. Obviously, supply and demand is going to be affected here. But I do think we’re going to have other places that it’s going to come from. The supply chain is going to change a bit until those refineries in Texas open back up.

GLENN: And the 42 percent of the fuel for jet fuel comes out of Houston. How long before these refineries can open up. Do you know that?

KEN: That I don’t know. I think it’s been so dependent on when the rain stops and the water receded. So I believe it will be — I’m hopeful in the next week they’ll open back up. It’s an issue. But I do think, as I said, I think the supply chain is changing to address that. It’s just prices are going to go up some.

GLENN: So that brings me to what we actually wanted to talk about, and that is price gouging. We just had a listener tweet in from New York and said, “I went. I brought my car in. It was, what? 2.41 or 2.43. I fill up. I go and I get my mom’s car. I come back, and it’s 2.57, 30 minutes later.” And that was in New York.

KEN: That was in New York? Wow.

GLENN: Yes.

KEN: It’s going to — look, it’s the natural supply and demand. Prices are going to go up, until the refineries are back open. That’s just the reality. We’re going to see higher gas prices, for at least, you know, the next few weeks.

GLENN: So I, in my head, can make the leap to things like water. I don’t want — I mean, water — you have to have water to live. But that stops — by not — by saying you can’t raise the price, that stops the trucker or the somebody else that might live, you know, in another state, who says, you know what, I’m going to go buy a bunch of water, because I’ll be able to make it up. And I’m going to deliver a whole truckload of it, and I’m going to sell it.

So it actually, by — by disrupting the capitalist system or the free market system, it actually can end up hurting the — the efforts. How do you balance that?

How do you define price gouging and — and — and know where the line is?

KEN: Do you remember when the Supreme Court had to deal with pornography, and they basically said, “We know it when we see it?”

So when I see gas prices at $20 a gallon, I know it’s price gouging. When I see water at $100 a gas, I know it’s price gouging. When I see gas at 2.57, it’s probably not price gouging.

So, you know, we take a look at it and we try to figure out based on the historic price, based on what’s going on in the market, are these people taking advantage of people in crisis? And, you know, there is some — there is definitely some discretion here. And we’re not trying to stop the market from working. We’re just trying to stop people from ripping people off.

STU: Ken, are you at all uncomfortable with — and I know you’re trying to do good work here and help people in need. But are you at all uncomfortable with the government making a standard of, we know it when we see it?

KEN: Well, so, you know, my job isn’t to make laws. I have to deal with the laws I’m given. Whether I would have passed a law exactly like this —

GLENN: Yes.

KEN: As I know from being in the legislature, I never got to pass any law that I exactly liked. I get to — I get to negotiate laws that were partly what I liked and partly what I didn’t.

So, yeah. I’m a free market guy. But I don’t think — in this case, we’re not talking about efficient markets. We are talking about really inefficient markets. And I don’t think we necessarily have a free market right now in Houston. We have limited supplies. And we’ve got — we’re talking about critical supplies.

So we’re not talking about price gouging as it relates to anything other than things that really are critical to people surviving.

GLENN: You know, Ken, there’s an article. And I’m not going to mention where. You know, some person on the left said, “What we’re seeing in Houston is not miraculous. People just — people just rise to the occasion.” And I think that’s absolutely untrue. We have seen other places and other disasters where people don’t necessarily rise to the occasion. And the bad guys take advantage of the occasion. And, you know, are doing some really horrible things.

Are we missing the stories of the violence and the looting and everything else that is happening in Houston? Because I know some of it is happening.

But are — are we just not seeing a large level of that taking root in Houston?

KEN: You know, I don’t think there’s a large level. Look, I may — we could be wrong. We may find more than there is. But part of it is, it’s hard for looters to get in and out. They’re limited by the same things we’re limited by. And so it’s made it difficult for them to loot. Now, as the water recedes, we may have more of a problem. But I know that local law enforcement is focused on that. Although, they’re particularly focused on rescuing lives first.

But as the waters recede, we’ll see what happens. Hopefully, you know, there won’t be a lot of that going on.

GLENN: You know, there was a story that came out that President Bush just allowed all of the sales of the transfer of, you know, some serious armaments or, you know — you know, armed personnel, et cetera, to our local police. And that bothers me. It bothered me under George Bush. And it bothered me under Barack Obama. It bothers me under this president.

I don’t understand why that’s happening. I want our police to be effective and to be safe. But why isn’t that equipment just being transferred to our National Guard. Because they’re the ones that really need. We don’t really need it to serve a warrant of arrest to somebody.

Why — why is that happening? And what are we doing with that and our police? Do you know?

KEN: I don’t know. I’m not involved in that transfer.

GLENN: Okay.

KEN: I don’t know that I disagree with you, that local police shouldn’t be armed like they’re the US military. That would be better served put into the hands of the National Guard. So I tend to agree with your assessment of that. I have the same concerns you do.

GLENN: One last question: Besides prayer, what can we do to help the governor and everybody else in service the next week or so?

KEN: Well, that’s a great question. I think you can pray. That’s obviously very important. Still people that are in harm’s way. Still people that are rescuing. And that will continue. But there’s also great organizations on the ground. Like Samaritan’s Purse. There’s a group called Minute Man out of Texas, actually out of McKinney, Texas, that I’m very aware that are on the ground. We have groups like the Red Cross.

There are some really good groups that are — that are down there doing — also, Texas Baptist Men. So those are at least three or four of the groups that I know of, that are down there now that know what they’re doing, that are, you know, legitimate organizations. And that are trying to make a difference.

So you can give money to them. I think they will make a difference down there.

GLENN: Ken, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

KEN: Thank you. Absolutely.

GLENN: By the way, yesterday, I got word that Mercury One — this is about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, hit a million dollars from this audience. And we can’t thank you enough. And you can donate.