Our society works — and generally works quite well — on capitalism.
The private industry competes with limited interference from the government. Supply and demand, as well as competition, combine to provide the products and services we need and determine the prices we pay for them.
These are exceptional times, and unfortunately, it's not a surprise some people would look to profit at the expense of others during a national emergency.
We're talking about price gouging.
"We've received over 400 price gouging complaints in the past two weeks, and we're monitoring a number of different scams," Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a news release.
Missouri law prohibits individuals and businesses from substantially raising their prices for the necessities of life during an emergency, Schmitt said.
We've had a letter to the editor about price gouging and seen many social media posts from our area about such allegations.
As we recently reported, the Attorney General's Office recently issued a cease-and-desist letter to a Springfield man for inflating the prices of N95 masks and sent civil investigative demands to eight third-party sellers on Amazon for potential price gouging.
We join Schmitt and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe in urging area residents to report such incidents.
The form on the AG's website can be found at ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/price-gouging. There's also a banner on the ago.mo.gov homepage that directs consumers to the form.
The form asks specific questions relating to price points, if other sellers were also selling items at this price, where the incident occurred, if a sale took place and more. These questions will aid the Attorney General's Office's Consumer Protection Section in tracking down and investigating these complaints.
Price gouging can also be reported at the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 and on the standard consumer complaint form at ago.mo.gov, but if possible consumers are urged to use the specific form if reporting price gouging.
Your diligence in reporting price gouging incidents will help the state shut down such unscrupulous business practices in Missouri.