You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man
I have been listening with great amusement to Obamatalk about the credit card industry. There’s been a lot of discussion of how companies are entitled to make ‘reasonable’ profits, but must be prevented from utilizing ‘unfair’ fees and changes to conditions.
How? By government regulation, presumably.
Why do I say that, despite that phrase never being mentioned in any of the speeches or press releases I’ve come across on the subject? Because no mention of the highly effective default control of corporate behavior – consumer discretion – is ever made.
The contracts typically offered for credit card agreements are frequently Byzantine, obscurantist, and give the companies the right to change the terms therein as they wish. And people still accept the agreements! As long as people will do business with companies that create such contracts, the companies have no reason to ceasing doing so if it’s in their interests.
The most offensive idea being batted about is that consumers are entitled to contracts they can understand. Look, this is quite simple: if you are presented with a contract for a service you want, and you don’t understand it, you should refuse to sign it – even if that means not getting the service you want.
But that’s a concept that’s gone completely out of fashion. Imagine: being expected to act with self-restraint instead of being entitled to the things you want! The modern way is to demand that you get what you want and in the way you want it to be provided to you. Can’t understand the contract for cellphone service? Get the government to force the company to change its terms – and keep the price down while it’s at it.