Amazon and eBay punished coronavirus price-gougers by making it harder for the rest of us to get hand sanitizer

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Amazon and eBay could have asked them to sell at a reasonable price.



Not everyone agrees that price gouging is immoral, of course; the Libertarian Institute argues

Who cares what they think

Apparently the sanitizer these two collected in Tennessee is now being donated locally. It is true that that means that wealthy people in LA and NYC have lost their opportunity to increase global warming by flying the sanitizer to their houses.


The “usual” economic models are a product of the math and computational techniques available in the 50’s through 70’s. They imply certain behaviours (rational consumers, full information) but that’s not to say that they suggest such behaviours actually dominate (or even exist).

Modern models (Modern Monetary Circuit Theory and other Agent Based Models) clearly show what happens when there is a “rush to the exit” or a “fire sale” and why such dynamics appear.

In a rush for the exit (or hand sanitiser or toilet paper ) the dynamics are very different, and not conducive to egalitarian outcomes.

The Libertarians need to refresh their brand of Kool-Aid.


the Libertarian Institute argues that it’s a perfect example of why an unregulated free market is the best system for dealing with crises.

Which is why nobody benefitted from rationing during WWII in the UK, eh?. Sure thing, guys. Here’s a suggestion, why don’t you come back and tell us how that worked out for you when the free market in guillotines kicks in? Fuckwits!!


Huh. If I, myself, were to assign blame for “making it harder for the rest of us to get hand sanitizer,” my instinct would have been to assign it to the people buying up huge stocks they didn’t need.


The libertarian justification is simplistic to the point of ridicule: the fittest and strongest will survive. The definition of fit is money. So the “weak”, although they may be concert pianists, doctors, educators, authors - they die if they don’t have money.

The libertarian argument deserves to catch SARS-COV-2, develop Covid-19, and die a sputum-drowning death.


I’m sorry - but that’s too good for them. Maybe finishing off the job by being publicly drowned in vats of hand sanitiser once they are half-drowned in their own sputum?


Meanwhile bloated capitalists are giving it away

Mind you this could be giving with a price TBA.


Just because Amazon/eBay stopped him from selling there doesn’t mean that all of us are being punished. If this guy didn’t exist, those thousands of bottles wouldn’t have been on Amazon anyway. He could always sell/give them back to all the local stores he bought them from, returning the system back to what should have been from the beginning.


I thought the most important point of the NYT article was hardly mentioned. The figures in the article show that amazon also was price gouging the products they sell directly to customers with 200-300% increases on some basic prevention supplies. In the U.S. the focus of economic problems is always on individual behavior. Its always about how there must be individual bad actors, but a multinational corporation does the same thing and thats just capitalism working as intended and nobody says shit


Some specific items are being stopped from being sold at a higher price but others they don’t care. Excedrin Migraine and Extra Strength apparently stopped being manufactured in late January due to the virus, I checked online and Amazon had third party sellers with bottles of the stuff for crazy prices. I recently ran out so I ended buying a generic brand instead

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They can’t because they bought them at a reasonable price. Also, they can’t because the Tennessee attorney general ordered them not to sell, donate, or otherwise dispose of the merchandise in question pending an investigation.

What they should have done was immediately return all the merchandise to the original stores for a full refund. I guess that hasn’t occurred to anyone.


Ya. Well the reason they got into this fix and got the attention of the AG is because $80 a bottle for hand sanitizer is Not a reasonable or fair price.


It is in the process of being donated, with the cooperation of the AG’s office. Returning it would have been silly because of the work involved; they actually put a lot of time and effort and gas into collecting the sanitizer, there’s no need to increase the carbon footprint by trying to return it, besides which why would the shops that sold it to them want to buy it back?


In other words: they punished people for manipulating supply-and-demand in a time of great need, Amazon and eBay by cutting off the suppliers, so they can’t sell the supplies they have, which in turn makes the demand grow.

This sounds like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. If they didn’t do anything, people would be bitching that there were price gougers getting rich off of their platforms.

Gouging sucks. But, it does actually help more people get a needed item than if it was regular price. The If an item costs $10 normally and you have $100, you might buy 10 items, all that you can afford, leaving less for the next persons. If it were $50, a ridiculous price, but now at best you can only buy 2, leaving more for more people. You may even only get one because over paying so much is a hard thing to do. The down side is, people that only had $20, who normally could get 2, now can’t get any. So it isn’t a perfect system. In the chaos of crisis, there is no perfect system because humans are stupid, panicky animals.

Now - what should Amazon do moving forward? Pricing controls and item limits. Allow people to resell and set a limit. I don’t know what a good limit is, 30% over MSRP? 50% over MSRP? I guess depending on what it is, that sounds like a reasonable mark up. Then set a limit, say 3 per item. You get the people with foresight making their profit, you get people who need stuff able to get stuff, and it doesn’t allow people to hoard.

I know amazon has item limits in place, because I found out the other day, for whatever reason, Funko only allows you to buy 3 pop protectors. And I couldn’t order 3 more the next day, so they must have a time limit between orders set up.


That is a fair statement. The difference of course is that Pharma is business measured in billions, not thousands.


If you have a platform that is a quasi-monopoly, that’s where the buck stops.

Rationing has worked quite well in the past. But probably not with a family of grifters as president.

Good question. Just a thought: maybe Amazon needs to fuck off and die to make things better, because they are at the heart of cultivating behavior that made people more vulnerable to a crisis like this?

If Amazon really wanted to support people in this crisis, they’d find a way. But they just don’t.


Oh yeah now we’re talkin’!

Talking bad case scenarios (lots of >65 year olds die - and I don’t, really don’t, like the idea of that) - both in the UK and US it seems to me the right wing are setting the virus on their own voting base.

So they’re going to have to try an immense youth-recruitment. If it’s really damn clear how this happened (ah shit I hear another person coughing outside - familiar cough now) then there are going to be lots and lots of younger people with lost parents / grandparents / other family. I really don’t think they’re going to get onside - watch for the massive facebook campaign though.

This may well be peak late-stage capitalism. Their weakness is fundamental and simple: money flows. A movement to deny those companies that feed these monsters of cash could well be extremely effective.

People power. That’s why they wiped out the hippies. It was a persuasive, intelligent, holistic and powerful movement that threatened corporations and their shareholders. (Is there a text on that anywhere??)