Capitalism vs. Price Gouging: How Much Would You Charge for a Bottle of Water?

In Texas, prices for water, gasoline and hotel rooms have skyrocketed in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey, which flooded Houston and is expected to remain on the Gulf Coast for a few more days.

People are reporting that a case of water costs $99 and gas costs as much as $10 per gallon. This past weekend, there were more than 500 complaints about price gouging, or raising the cost of goods to an exploitative price, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told CNBC.

A Best Western near Corpus Christi was charging $321.89 a night, almost tripled from the room’s normal rate of $120, KXAN reported. The attorney general’s office has delivered a subpoena to the motel in question after finding that nearly 40 guests were similarly over-charged.

The state has a penalty of $20,000 for those found guilty of price gouging, and the fine can be as much as $250,000 if the victim is age 65 or older.

The state defines price gouging as:

  1. Selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or
  2. Demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine or another necessity.

While price gouging is illegal in Texas, it’s an undecided question for some conservatives who value the free market. On radio Tuesday, Glenn and the guys debated the ethics of price gouging and whether or not there is a benefit to letting the market stay unregulated even during a disaster.

Stu was alone in being certain in his opinion.

“Stu is just a pure capitalist, ‘screw ‘em all, let ‘em eat each other,’” Glenn joked about Stu’s perspective.

Estimating that a case of water had 24 bottles, Stu pointed out that you would be paying around $4 per bottle, which is roughly what you might pay at a baseball game. “That’s not even price gouging. That is event pricing,” he said.

Glenn couldn’t quite get past the fact that water is the most fundamental human necessity.

“I’m really torn on this because I mean, water is water. … It’s life-saving,” he said.

GLENN: So here's -- here's a -- if we may have an intellectual conversation about something that we are all really torn on, except for Stu. Stu is just a pure capitalist, screw them all, let them eat each other under the bridge.

STU: Not accurate in any way.

GLENN: I know.

PAT: He's a godless animal.

JEFFY: Right. Hates people.

GLENN: Hates people. Wants your children to die.

But there's a price gouging thing that's going on here in Texas with water and gas and everything else. And I'm really torn on this. Because, I mean, water is water. You got to have water. It's life-saving.

PAT: And they're charging $99 for a case of water.

GLENN: Okay. That's kind of a problem.

PAT: That's a lot.

STU: Is it? What's a case of water? Twenty-four? So let's say, you're at, what? Four bucks a bottle of water. I pay that at every freaking baseball game I go to. Every game I go to, $4 a water is a very reasonable price.

JEFFY: Absolutely, it is.

STU: That's not even price gouging. That is event pricing. That is legitimately event pricing. If I go to a movie, I'm paying $4 for a bottle of water.

GLENN: And you know what, that's actually what this is too, this is an event. It's a bad event, but it's an event.

STU: It's an event. It is.

GLENN: Okay. But I still have a problem.

PAT: What about rooms? Okay. A hotel room going from 120 a night to 321.89.

STU: I have no problem with that.

PAT: That's Best Western. That's not even a hotel. That's a motel.

GLENN: No, I have no problem with that.

PAT: No problem? Okay.

JEFFY: Don't look down on Best Western. Don't point your nose down at it.

PAT: Okay.

STU: There's an extreme scarcity and demand increase.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.

PAT: Gas at ten bucks a gallon. You can't get gas, you're going to pay ten bucks a gallon.

JEFFY: You know you are.

GLENN: Right. And here's the thing: Yes, should you have gas? But once that gas station runs out --

PAT: They're not getting anymore.

GLENN: -- how are you going to get the trucks to come in? You need some mercenaries to come in and to refill some things. You need some truckers who are incentivized to come in and say, "I'll get that water there. I'll get that gas there." I mean, there's a balance between humanity and the truth about our better angels.

PAT: Uh-huh.

GLENN: That capitalism needs to walk.

The Biden admin has let in MORE illegal aliens than the populations of THESE 15 states

GUILLERMO ARIAS / Contributor | Getty Images

There are currently an estimated 16.8 MILLION illegal aliens residing in the United States as of June 2023, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). This number is already 1.3 million higher than FAIR's January 2022 estimate of 15.5 million and a 2.3 million increase from its end-of-2020 estimate. Even Democrats like New York City's Mayor Adams Mayor Adams are waking up to what Conservatives have been warning for years: we are in a border CRISIS.

However, this isn't the same border crisis that Republicans were warning about back in 2010. In the first two years of the Biden administration alone, the illegal alien population increased by 16 PERCENT nationwide, imposing a whopping net cost of $150.6 BILLION PER YEAR on American taxpayers. That is nearly DOUBLE the total amount that the Biden administration has sent to Ukraine.

This isn't the same border crisis that Republicans were warning about back in 2010.

These large numbers often make it difficult to conceptualize the sheer impact of illegal immigration on the United States. To put it in perspective, we have listed ALL 15 states and the District of Colombia that have smaller populations than the 2.3 MILLION illegal immigrants, who have entered the U.S. under the Biden administration. That is more than the entire populations of Wyoming, Vermont, and South Dakota COMBINED—and the American taxpayers have to pay the price.

Here are all 16 states/districts that have FEWER people than the illegal immigrants who have entered the U.S. under the Biden administration.

1. New Mexico

Population: 2,110,011

2. Idaho

Population: 1,973,752

3. Nebraska

Population: 1,972,292

4. West Virginia

Population: 1,764,786

5. Hawaii

Population: 1,433,238

6. New Hampshire

Population: 1,402,957

7. Maine

Population: 1,393,442

8. Montana

Population: 1,139,507

9. Rhode Island

Population: 1,090,483

10. Delaware

Population: 1,031,985

11. South Dakota

Population: 923,484

12. North Dakota

Population: 780,588

13. Alaska

Population: 732,984

14. Washington DC

Population: 674,815

15. Vermont

Population: 647,156

16. Wyoming

Population: 583,279

POLL: Should the Government control the future of AI?

The Washington Post / Contributor | Getty Images

Earlier this week, tech titans, lawmakers, and union leaders met on Capitol Hill to discuss the future of AI regulation. The three-hour meeting boasted an impressive roster of tech leaders including, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and others, along with more than 60 US Senators.

Tech Titans and Senators gathered in the Kennedy Caucus Room.The Washington Post / Contributor | Getty Images

The meeting was closed to the public, so what was exactly discussed is unknown. However, what we do know is that a majority of the CEOs support AI regulation, the most vocal of which is Elon Musk. During the meeting, Musk called AI "a double-edged sword" and strongly pushed for regulation in the interest of public safety.

A majority of the CEOs support AI regulation.

Many other related issues were discussed, including the disruption AI has caused to the job market. As Glenn has discussed on his program, the potential for AI to alter or destroy jobs is very real, and many have already felt the effects. From taxi drivers to Hollywood actors and writers, AI's presence can be felt everywhere and lawmakers are unsure how to respond.

The potential for AI to alter or destroy jobs is very real.

Ultimately, the meeting's conclusion was less than decisive, with several Senators making comments to the tune of "we need more time before we act." The White House is expected to release an executive order regarding AI regulation by the end of the year. But now it's YOUR turn to tell us what YOU think needs to be done!

Should A.I. be regulated?

Can the government be trusted with the power to regulate A.I.? 

Can Silicon Valley be trusted to regulate AI? 

Should AI development be slowed for safety, despite its potential advantages?

If a job can be done cheaper and better by AI, should it be taken away from a human?

Do you feel that your job is threatened by AI?

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Glenn wrote this essay on September 12, 2001. Are we the same people now?

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Twenty two years ago today on September 12th, 2001, Glenn wrote an essay called "The Greatest American Generation." These were his visceral thoughts immediately following the 9/11 attacks. This beautiful essay calls upon the American spirit to rise to the occasion to pull us through what was one of the darkest days in our nation's history. He called us to unite around the common vision that unites us as Americans.

Yesterday, Glenn revisited this essay, wondering if we are the same people who could have pulled through that dark hour. Do you still believe the things that he wrote in this essay? Or have we become a people too divided to overcome a tragedy of the magnitude of 9/11? Consider these questions as you read Glenn's essay below, "The Greatest American Generation," published on September 12, 2001.

I've always believed that the greatest American generation is the one that's living, in the here and the now. The question is not if this is the greatest American generation. The question was when were we going to wake up? I remember staying at my grandparents' house in the summer when I was small. Every morning my grandmother would open the attic door and call up, "Kids, time to wake up." For me she'd have to do this a couple of times before I'd lumber out of bed and cross the cold, squeaky wooden floor. But finally, I would. And she'd be there in the kitchen ready with breakfast. My grandfather was already outside in the henhouse because there was work to do. They were hardworking, good and decent people. Seemed to me that they were from not only a different time but a different place. They weren't.

The spirit of our parents and our grandparents isn't from some foreign place. It hasn't died out. It's a flame that flickers in all Americans. It's there and it's ready to blaze to life when we're ready to face the challenges that now lie at our feet. It's what sets us apart. It's what built this country. It's why our borders still teem with the poor and the tired and those yearning to be free, burned with zeal in the hearts of millions of immigrants from every corner of the Earth who came here in search of a better way of life. The flame that Lady Liberty holds is the American spirit which burns deep within all of us, no matter what our race, gender, our religious background. And today the world is watching us. It's really nothing new. It always has.

Since the dawn of man people dreamt of a better life, dreamt of a better way, of freedom. But it was Americans that finally found a way to build it. And out of all that we've built, the powerful machines, the computers, the weapons of mass destruction, hardware and software that we spent millions on every year to protect and keep the plan secret, our biggest seeming secret, the one the world wants most of all, isn't a secret at all. It's something we freely give to the rest of the world. And while it seems self‑evident to us, for some reason it can't be duplicated. Yet it can be passed on from person to person, torch to torch. It's the American spirit.

If you weren't trapped in one of those towers or on a plane or in the Pentagon, then you have great reason to humbly give thanks today, not for our lives but because we're the lucky ones. God hasn't forsaken us. He's awakened us. Standing at the bottom of the stairs, he's gently called out, "Kids, it's time to wake up! We've been given another chance."

Thousands of years ago in Babel, the great civilization in their arrogance built a tower that reached the sky. It crumbled and they were scattered. Our heart and steely symbols of power and wealth may have crumbled, but we have not been scattered. Americans aren't ever going to scatter. Let the world recognize through our actions today that those firefighters in New York are not the exception. They are the rule. Americans don't run from burning buildings. We run into them. It was a beautiful fall morning on the edge of the land created through divine providence. Coffee shops were open. Children were on their buses and people easing into another typical workday when America's greatest generation heard the voice: "Kids, it's time to wake up."

Several times we've ignored the voice. We've drifted back into twilight sleep muttering, "I know, I know, in a minute." But finally we are awake and out of bed, for there is much work to do. The task before us is much more daunting than what our grandparents and parents faced, but we are stronger, a more prepared nation. The torch has been passed. We are the greatest American generation. The American spirit is alive and well. Our flame has not burned out. It had just been dimmed while we were asleep."