Saturday, December 31, 2011

A letter to Consumer Reports

Here's a letter to Consumer Reports Magazine:

I’ve long been a fan of your magazine, enjoying the unbiased advice you give on thousands of products each year.  However, I’ve come to loathe your increasing affinity of government regulation over consumer products.  While it may be true that a small number of consumers are harmed by less-than-honest companies, consumers also suffer harm when government intervenes in the market place.  And while you vigorously invite more regulation, you fail to report on the harm that that same regulation inflicts on consumers in the form of higher prices and less choice. 

Consumers should be free to express their preference in the market place by entering into mutually beneficial exchange with others.  Only consumers, who have intimate knowledge of their needs and wants, should determine if a product or service survives, not unelected government bureaucrats.  While some regulation is necessary to ensure a level playing field, your magazine advocates too loudly for big government.  What’s needed is less regulation and more information.

In a perfect world, government would not prevent producers from bringing their products and services to market, nor would it prevent consumers from purchasing those same products and services.  In this perfect world, consumers would become savvy buyers and organizations like yours would provide a vital service supplying the market with much needed information.  Today’s technology makes it relatively easy to quickly and efficiently acquire information regarding a products pros and cons.   In this perfect world, consumers would benefit hugely from the overwhelming variety of products and services, and producers would be kept in check not only through information provided by your organization, but also by the market discipline - make a bad product, and face bankruptcy.

Government regulation exacts a hefty toll on consumers and the overall economy, and quite often fails to accomplish its “good” intentions.  And while I don’t expect you to begin embracing free market principles, you could at least inform consumers of the oft unintended consequences of government regulation.

Brad D.

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