The photos in this story are pretty amazing (see link below). However, something struck me yesterday as I was talking about this mess with Critter. Isn’t sad and disappointing that, when it comes to helping others in need, humans tend to take the path of most profit?
Local villagers were doing brisk business selling instant noodles, boxed lunches and snacks, weaving between the parked trucks on bicycles.
Though there were no reports of road rage violence, drivers complained about price-gouging by villagers who were their only source of food and water. A bottle of water that normally costs 1 yuan (15 cents) was selling for 10 yuan ($1.50), while the price of a 3 yuan- (45 cent-) cup of instant noodles had more than tripled, media reports said.
“A boxed lunch is 10 yuan ($1.50), and one box isn’t enough for me,” China National Radio cited a driver surnamed Lu as saying. “I’m spending up to 50 yuan (about $7.50) a day on food. It’s more expensive than eating in a restaurant.”
If these people were starving and dying from a massive natural disaster or something like that, you might see more genuine help being offered. But they’re people with money on hand, trapped in this stupid situation, which means the local villagers are charging as much as they can get away with for food and water. The same thing happens in the U.S. when, say, a town becomes flooded and people have to flee their homes. That same day you’ll see nearby grocery stores hike their prices up 300%. Is it unreasonable or unrealistic to be disgusted by this, or is it just business as usual?
Back to the traffic jam. I’m wondering what will happen when these people start running out of money in a few days. Will they be denied food because they can’t pay triple the usual amount for a cup of noodles? I’d like to think that humans are essentially good, but we’re also greedy, and that’s when things get ugly.