Here is a man thanking a "price-gouger" for rescuing him from the cold very late one night last week. "An Economics Lesson at the Baggage Carousel ... Government-regulated taxis weren't around in a snowstorm. Then came a man with a car and price." But the writer is an admitted economist.
It's a very old story. Markets elicit cooperation between willing parties. But many only smell "unfairness" when the service is not offered at a loss. The regulated taxis who would have had to take a loss had already disappeared.
The bad weather and the emergency had happened. Accept that and do the best. If markets clear at a higher price, that's the best of a bad situation. Enforcing "anti-gouging" laws (or sentiments) would make a bad situation worse.
But this is what we do. The toughest U.S. price controls were put into effect in World War II. This only made a very bad situation worse. As in the taxis-in-the-snowtorm story, it is unwise to punish those with the extra capacity to serve when it counts most. As Prof Higgs noted, during the war this only brought law-breaking and black markets.
I have often noted that many see pricing as exotic and/or sinister. Here is the NY Times' Annie Lowrey struggling. She sees "high-tech gouging", sees no difference in the time-of-day that the "same ride" occurs, and sees some "longing for inefficiencies they never knew they were benefiting from."