Bill De Blasio, current occupant of Gracie Mansion, and purported mayor of New York City, got his more-woke-than-thou knickers in a twist over the fact that some Dominos locations in Times Square were delivering pizzas to the revelers who’d gathered hours ahead of the New Year’s Eve ball drop, and were stuck in their corrals. His beef? That they were charging $30 a pie (yes, in NYC we call a whole pizza a ‘pie’), twice the typical $14.49 price.

Welcome to the free market, Mr. Mayor. Even in NY, where politicians attempt to strangle every economic liberty we have, market forces find a way. And, you know what? The consumers didn’t complain. They were happy to be handed hot pizza on a cold day (I’m not a fan of Dominos’ product, but obviously some people are, and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do).

Critics will call this ‘price gouging,’ but the phrase is an opinion, not a description. Just as the difference between ambition and greed is in the eye of the beholder, so is the difference between market pricing and ‘gouging.’ Usually, the complainers about gouging are the people who don’t want to pay as much as others are willing to for a product, and want someone to impose their will on sellers on their behalf.

The thing is – ‘gouging’ serves a useful function, especially in times of shortage. In the aftermath of a hurricane or flood, higher prices for things like gasoline, food, water, and other supplies serve to more efficiently ration and distribute those goods. They discourage hoarding, i.e. people buying more than they need and thus depriving others; they encourage local sellers to load up on extra stock, because they know the added carrying cost will be recovered; and they invite sellers for whom normal prices might not be sufficient to bring more product to an area. In short, ‘gouging’ serves as a rationing mechanism during extraordinary times, and will produce a better distribution of scarce goods than laws that prevent gouging ever will (and, rest assured, if a licensed merchant is precluded from raising prices above a certain level, (as is law in many states), enterprising consumers will hoard stock in order to resell for their own profit).

Moreso, unlike water and fuel after a hurricane, pizza in Times Square for New Year’s Eve is optional, a luxury item, with countless alternatives (put a sandwich in your pocket before you leave the house) alternatives. A merchant made a business decision on pricing, and it worked out just fine.

De Blasio’s complaint is especially rich, given his support for congestion pricing as a means of better ‘rationing’ access to Manhattan’s clogged streets. Apparently, it’s OK when the government does it. Perhaps, I suppose, because government isn’t greedy.


Forgive me. Is there anyone greedier than a big-government politician? The asserted reason for congestion pricing is to improve traffic flow in Manhattan’s most congested areas at peak times. The underlying purpose is, of course, revenue. They want/need the money to make up for decades of fiscal mis-management of public transportation. As added proof, consider how the city is doing all sorts of things that make traffic flow worse, and isn’t even trying to engage in traffic engineering that would make it better.

It’s an easy conclusion that De Blasio’s pizza whine is nothing more than opportunistic pandering – an attempt at stoking cheap outrage. As a friend pointed out, De Blasio’s favorite pizza normally sells for $30 a pie.

Sadly, cheap outrage works. Playing to people’s emotions is more effective than appealing to their rationality. It’s why we get politicians like De Blasio, and it’s why the Babylon Bee’s recent headline, “Six-Year-Old Saying, ‘Why Don’t We Just Give Everything Away For Free?’ Surges To Top Of Democratic Polls,” is so scathing and on-point.

As for Dominos $30 Times Square pies? If I were (voluntarily) trapped in a cattle-pen for hours in the cold, with nothing but a stale sandwich in my pocket, and some dude walked by with a stack of hot overpriced-but-mediocre pizzas, damn right I’d buck up for it. Willingly.

So would Bill, if he were among the hoi polloi rather than a pampered, self-indulgent, better-than-thou politician.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


Like this post?