Sunday, October 09, 2005

Consumer Protection and Hurricane Katrina

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, William Niskanen (2005) recommended the following:
 
Do not impose any form of rationing or price controls on food, gasoline, rents. etc. … (History has shown) that price controls lead to other, less desirable, forms of rationing – by waiting lines, bribery, favoritism, and the substitution of lower quality goods and services.
 
There is a good case, consistent with our natural generosity, to make ample assistance to those households displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and there is ample funding within the $62.5 billion already approved for such assistance. Such assistance, however, should be temporary, say for a year, and should be independent of where the displaced households choose to live.
 
Returning to the Gulf Coast, specifically, should not be a condition for receiving such assistance. The federal budget cost of a rent voucher for displaced households, say of $10,000, would be around $6 billion, and the voucher should be usable anywhere in the country.
 
“It is especially important for the federal government to avoid financing any rebuilding of private property that was not covered by flood insurance,” says Miskanen.”

Niskanen, William A. “Commerce and Consumer Protection Implications of Hurricane Katrina” Congressional testimony, September 22, 2005

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