John Stossel asks an excellent question in his column today:  When did profit become a dirty word?

Like the Larry Elder column I linked to last week, Stossel puts a useful perspective on the “record high” gas prices – they are only a record high if you fail to account for inflation, which is a silly economic move.

Stossel also has harsh words for the anti-“gouging” bill passed by the House last month:

“…[the bill] would make it a crime to charge ‘unconscionably excessive’ prices, ‘tak[e] unfair advantage of unusual market conditions,’ and ‘increase prices unreasonably’ during an emergency?

“Please. Lawyers will get rich debating vague words like those. Laws are supposed to be clear so we’ll know in advance what’s legal and what’s not. But there’s nothing clear about those ‘crimes.’

“…And Congress should know better. After Hurricane Katrina, Congress had the Federal Trade Commission investigate price gouging, and so the FTC studied price spikes going back years. But it found ‘no instances of illegal manipulation.’

“If the politicians do enforce anti-‘gouging’ rules, it will be akin to capping prices, and we tried that before. It was a disaster. Drivers had to wait in long lines, and some couldn’t get any gasoline. Only when price controls were lifted did supplies rush in, and only then did prices go back down.”

Read more here.