Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight
to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"Everything is easy if somebody else is the one doing it." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, March 14, 2020

They Should Only Frelling Choke On It.
Hell, They Should Only Drown In It.

On March 1, the day after the first coronavirus death in the United States was announced, brothers Matt and Noah Colvin set out in a silver S.U.V. to pick up some hand sanitizer. Driving around Chattanooga, Tenn., they hit a Dollar Tree, then a Walmart, a Staples and a Home Depot. At each store, they cleaned out the shelves.

Over the next three days, Noah Colvin took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes, mostly from “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods,” his brother said. “The major metro areas were cleaned out.”
The next day, Amazon pulled his items and thousands of other listings for sanitizer, wipes and face masks. The company suspended some of the sellers behind the listings and warned many others that if they kept running up prices, they’d lose their accounts. EBay soon followed with even stricter measures, prohibiting any U.S. sales of masks or sanitizer.

Now, while millions of people across the country search in vain for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Mr. Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff with little idea where to sell them.

“It’s been a huge amount of whiplash,” he said. “From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”
In less enlightened countries, back in the day, people who engaged in such profiteering during a time of war were shot.

I love it how these profiteers think that they were providing a public service; just like the assholes in 2012-13 who were buying boxes of .22 and 9mm from Wal-mart (which wasn't engaging in profiteering) and then selling them for several times what they paid for it. The only thing that these putzim are doing is servicing their own greed. The giveaway that this one particular clown and his brother knew that what they were doing was immoral was at the end of the article:
As for his stockpile, Mr. Colvin said he would now probably try to sell it locally. “If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.”

After The Times published this article on Saturday morning, Mr. Colvin said he was exploring ways to donate all the supplies.
In other words, he was happy to be the guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of hand-sanitizer and made a killing on reselling it, so long as nobody else found out about it. (Betcha he doesn't donate the stuff.)

Speaking of Wal-Mart, they're rationing some things, such as distilled water and hand-sanitizer, both that I was able to buy this afternoon. they had a worker watching the sanitizer to ensure that nobody took more than two. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the computers at the self-checkout would red-flag anyone trying to sneak more out.


B said...

I fail to see how good old capitalism became a Bad Thing.

Guys were smart, forward thinking and if people are willing to pay their price (I wouldn't) then that is the market price of the item.

If this is bad, and should be illegal, then are you gonna keep the Airlines from raising prices at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Hotels from raising their prices around the Superbowl? How about the stock markets? You want the State to set the prices there as well?

That way lies Socialism...where the State sets the price.

And the current shortages at the retail outlets will be just the beginning

DTWND said...

Capitalism is one thing, profiteering is something else. By your standards, Martin Shkreli was just a visionary entrepreneur.

No, reselling $4 sanitizer for $8, $16, $24 is capitalism. $700? 175% increase? That’s okay? I say nope.


DTWND said...

Oops, my bad math 17,500% increase


Comrade Misfit said...

The fact that the profiteer highlighted in the article now is saying he's going to donate his stock tells me that even he knows that he was not exactly a righteous dude.

For if he was, he's say "why do you hate capitalism" and keep trying to sell his shit. But no...

CenterPuke88 said...

The Kroger checkouts (self and attended) will simply beep and refuse to ring up anything over any hard limit set by the store. The local Kroger's are out of toilet paper, paper towels, tissues and hand sanitizer until roughtly March 17th. Today the veggies, the bread and the milk were cleaned out, theres a dent in the boxed wine and beer supplies, and bottled water and butter is getting scarce. Eggs are low.

Shit, people, if it gets that bad, the power is going off to and all that frozen shit is gonna be trashed. Haven't checked on ammo, but with a decent supply of .45 ACP, I'm good.

Sikhandtake said...

So, at maybe $4 per bottle, that is around 70k he had sitting around to spend on this? How is that not 'being in a nice place' already?

B said...

SO no one has answered....why is it then ok for airlines and hotels to raise prices in high demand times....why is that not "Profiteering" and why are you not demanding that it stop?

I honestly don't see the difference. He saw a market and filled it. He didn't steal it, he paid for it in a place where it was in low demand and then tried to sell it to others who had a high demand for it. Price is what the market will bear. If people were willing to pay it, then why should he not make as much profit as he can? If they weren't, then they didn't have to buy it.

If they failed to prepare for the expected need until the last minute then that is on them.

Tod Germanica said...

If you don't get the hotel or flight you want you stay somewhere cheaper or stay home.
OTOH if you don't clean your hands following touching something harboring covid-19 then you (in theory) could get sick. Or die. That's why competent medical authorities recommend it. (Not trump, he still shakes hands like a real man.)
By your interpretation of unfettered capitalism the drug companies could charge $100,000 per dose of cheap insulin. Don't have the dough? Well then go die. Loser. Because people exist to serve the economy.
(This does not apply to Glenn Filthy who wipes his ass with his fingers. You go boy. Love your handle, but those hands!)

CenterPuke88 said...

B., lets run with that question an I note that the airlines capped their fares from Europe after the announcement to limit fare increases.

The line between “Capitalism” and “Profiteering” is, and will always be, a blurry one, but it does have a simple guidepost...

- The actions of an individual(s) to secure an undue proportion of the market share for a necessary good, and then acting to offer a supply to individuals or groups at a grossly inflated rate, is profiteering. Doing the same and gaining an “acceptable” profit is Capitalist. The difference between these two cases is often significantly changed by events (I.e. bottled water is not a necessity while the taps flow and are safe, but becomes essential if that system is impaired).

On your Capitalist front, why were the Hunt brothers so castigated for trying to corner the silver market? The primary uses for silver in 1980 were jewelry and industry, but none of it was irreplaceable. However, Tiffany’s complaints finally resulted in actions that broke the back of the Hunt’s scheme, and eventually bankrupted them. This was considered a public good.

DTWND said...

Okay, I’ll try again. Capitalism (from what I recall from soooo long ago in school) is prices for products or services are set by the market (supply and demand) AND in competition with other companies making the same product. A monopoly is NOT capitalism, in that there is NOT a competitive entity.

In your example B, the hotels and airlines have competition in the setting the values (unless there is collusion, which is another discussion altogether) of their product/service. And as Tod pointed out, the hotel, airfare, etc, are not a necessity. A person has the option of either using or not using the service/product. This “entrepreneur” is taking advantage others during this situation. If he was not hoarding the supply of sanitizer, it would be available for consumption by others.

In the case of this article, it smacks more of profiteering or extortion, where as it can be argued the product is a necessity for living during this outbreak. Now if Mr. Colvin went around, bought all these items for his family and his own consumption, I would say he’s one far thinking individual. To resell it for 2, 3, 5 times what he paid is not capitalism, in that he has no competition, other than the stores that sell the same products at a reduced price. He then demonstrates he hoards their supply to control/manipulate the “market” as indicated in the article when he travels across states to fill a U-haul. For him to resell at a 1750% mark up (I misread the article, thought it said $700 per unit at first) THAT is gouging.

We have freedoms in this country, so long as it does not infringe on others. Your right to throw a punch ends at the tip of my nose. His right to make a profit ends when people, with limited means and/or access to the product he is hoarding, die.


B said...

So SOME profit is OK....But too much profit isn't good. And the "Market" price is what people are willing to pay, but in this case, since he worked, and had forethought, and the "Market" was willing to pay in a time of shortage, it is bad.....People complained about his profit....And since he chose to bring items from a place of relative abundance to a place or market where there was a shortage, he should't be allowed to make a high profit for his foresight, even though no one was forced to buy the product and there were other options available (Try simple handwashing)....and had he not chosen to drive a truck and move the items from the abundant areas to sell via the internet he is a Bad Person...Even though these folks CAN'T get the product now at all because he isn't allowed to sell it, so they are unable to use it, or even acquire it at all in their local areas.

So just exactly HOW MUCH profit is acceptable? No one is dying because of his actions, there ARE alternatives available, and he didn't make it UNAVAILABLE for any of the people that complained about his prices....He didn't cause these folks to not be able to buy the sanitizer, it already isn't available in their area. He did not buy the entire supply from the manufacturers, he bough surplus from places that had lots and tried to sell it via the internet to people who had shortages in their area due to a supply chain failing to meet the demand. And there ARE other options available. No one need die because he won't sell them hand sanitizer cheaply. Nor did he in any way affect the (failed) supply chain. The big box retailers sell more in a week than the amount he has stored, each and every one of them.

Other than the fact that he had foresight and they didn't and he wants to sell it for as much as he can, and people don't like the fact that he wants a higher price than they want to pay, what, exactly is the issue?

Again, How much profit is OK? How much should foresight equate to profit?

Make no mistake, I support the choice of Amazon and EBay to choose to not allow him to sell it via their platforms. They are private entities and can choose what or how items are sold via their services.

Again though, his attempt at making a huge profit did not in any way affect the availability of people to buy the sanitizer elsewhere, His purchases were less than a rounding error compared to the volumes produced and sold every day. He didn't in any way affect the supply chain, nor did he in any way inhibit people from buying other available supplies.

The arguments that he was "hoarding" are specious. The arguments that he prevented people from being able to buy it elsewhere are also specious. To claim that he cornered the supply are flat out wrong.

Your complaint that people could die if they can't buy his sanitzer cheaply implies that he has some obligation to sell it to anyone, or that they have some right to purchase the items at a price they find acceptable. Further, you claim that it is a needed item because there are no alternative is flat out wrong.

CenterPuke88 said...

No, B., he created the shortage and then acted to profit enormously from that action. See the Silver Market in 1980, as I mentioned before. As for “too much profit”, see insulin prices over the past few years. Companies have literally killed people in a race to ratchet up the price of insulin, and now they may just get pummeled for that.

DTWND said...

I’m going to use one of your favorite phrases now, B. Read for comprehension.

‘Over the next three days, Noah Colvin took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes, mostly from “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods,” his brother said. “The major metro areas were cleaned out.” ‘

The previous was cut and pasted from the article. By their own admission they went to all the smaller communities and CREATED THE SHORTAGE! How much clearer can it be? The brothers MANIPULATED the market for the items in question. They CREATED the short supply prior to the high demand. That is NOT capitalism in action. It’s extortion. Christ, if it was the stock market, the SEC would hang them by their nuts. Can you not see the difference?

In short, these guys are not capitalists nor entrepreneurs. They are opportunistic robber barons who thought only about themselves with no compassions for the suffering of others.


Deadstick said...

CP88 -- my local Kroger affiliate, normally a 24/7 store, took last night off to stock shelves without crowd pressure. By the time they opened there were about 30 people waiting at the door, acting all neighborly, joking around -- until the door opened, whereupon they went Mad Max. My cart and I were quite literally rammed by a man half my age and his cart, lest I get into the paper aisle ahead of him. Once you scored the one package per product you were allotted, you were up against a crush of carts just to get out of the aisle, raising an uncomfortable thought of the Coconut Grove.

Homo Sap has canine teeth, eyes in front of his head, and the predator heritage that speaks of is only this far under the veneer.

B said...

And you should "Read for Comprehension"

The "Major Metropolitan areas were wiped out" Not so the “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods,”.

He took stuff from places where it was available. Tried to sell it (for a massive profit, I admit) to people in places where it wasn't. He didn't create a shortage. No one died because he did so.

If you can read without the bias, you might find that "Comprehension" you claim I lack.

We are simply gonna disagree here. I can't have a discussion with those who are unable to think or reason.

Comrade Misfit said...

Horseshit. Those two clowns created shortages in rural areas in a wide area, all so they could make an obscene profit. A lot of people in rural areas depend on those Dollar General and similar stores for the goods that they need. They don't have the money to go onto Amazon and pay inflated prices because two greedy assholes wiped out the stock of $2/bottle hand-sanitizer for miles around.

Why are you defending those two profiteers, B?

DTWND said...

Jesus, he admits to taking the items from small stores in small areas. By doing so, they are creating shortages in those small areas. Artificial manipulation of the economics in those areas. How hard can it be to understand?

You want to maintain your original point of “free enterprise” despite the dialogue that counterfeits your position. And finally you attempt to insult by insinuating that I/we cannot think or reason. Look in a mirror. I’d venture to say you’d see a very stubborn individual.


Dark Avenger said...

Harry Lime: Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs - it's the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.

Martins: You used to believe in God.

Harry Lime: Oh, I still do believe in God, old man. I believe in God and Mercy and all that. But the dead are happier dead. They don't miss much here, poor devils.

dinthebeast said...

Hey B, would you be as supportive of these guys' behavior if they were hoarding brass and meat rations during a major war, to sell at a huge profit?

-Doug in Oakland