Well, now, "extortion." That sounds bad. And I'm pretty sure it's already illegal. "Extort" means: " ... to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power."
In the above-referenced news story, Sen. Maria Cantwell of the state of Washington is, as senators are wont to do, urging legislation:
With gas prices above $3 a gallon in many places, Congress should pass legislation by Memorial Day to make price-gouging a federal crime, Sen. Maria Cantwell said Saturday in the Democrats' weekly radio address.Regrettably, the news story provides no further detail about what prices would constitute "gouging," and I was unable to locate a transcript of Sen. Cantwell's address. Her web site has a fair amount of material on the subject, but it neither defines "gouging," nor "profiteering," nor does it indicate what prices for gasoline or other fuels are acceptable.
Price-fixing collusions: already illegal. Extortion: already illegal. This makes me think that something that isn't already illegal is about to become so, and I wonder what it is. I expect there's a good chance that it will turn out that "gouging" and "profiteering" mean asking a higher price from willing buyers than Sen. Cantwell finds seemly. Now I wonder when Sen. Cantwell will turn her critical eye and technical expertise to the real-estate markets. Many Americans are selling their houses for far, far more than they paid for them. Yes, sadly, many Americans are gouging and profiteering. Perhaps Sen. Cantwell will let us know what fair prices would look like.
Now, I don't mean to seem partisan here; all who know me also know that I carry no water for the Gee-Oh-Pee. So let's pause to note here that the "gouge" word has also recently been heard from the simian lips of El Presidente himself. It matters not which crime family any particular lawfaker associates himself or herself with; all of them love to make expansive and threatening gestures with the huge gun that is government, while barking out orders to you and I, telling us what we may buy at what price, and what we are forbidden to buy. Of course, all this is as it should and must be ... of course! Without our Dear Leaders, whatever would we do?