We don’t normally get mixed up in the business side of politics. It’s not that we don’t care, but there are other battles that need to be fought that are often more important. However, when the government starts messing with the way that companies do business in the United States, it’s important for us to chime in.
One of the biggest trends that nobody is talking about is the pricing controls that the government is imposing. There are rare instances when price gouging can be utterly abused, but these are few and far between. What most consider to be price gouging is simply the supply and demand model at work that has driven capitalism for centuries. The rare cases occur and are easily recognizable; just because a cup of soda at the convenience store costs them 12 cents doesn’t mean that they can’t charge $1.99. That’s not price gouging.
The government has been slowly working in pricing constraints into retail markets for over a decade now. It has been steady burn designed to “protect” consumers from making poor decisions, but it is having the clear consequence of forcing companies to cut margins in order to meet the demands of the government and their consumer watchdog puppeteers. The rise of the internet has already made it very possible to do plenty of research on nearly any product. By introducing government meddling into the equation, it’s no wonder that production continues to push overseas, that companies are cutting back on quality in order to stay in business, and that entire industries are requiring government bailouts just to stay afloat.
This has been very clearly seen in the automotive industry as companies find themselves forced to make decisions not based upon what the consumers want but what the government is mandating. There are very few instances when government intervention has proven to be beneficial for business and the up and down flow of the economy is a clear indicator to this.
People cry foul when car dealers and manufacturers make anything on their vehicles. That’s not to say that the pricing structures have been completely beneficial in the past, but there’s a thin line between transparency that helps the consumer and transparency that hurts the industry. A beneficial example of transparency is in advertising. The FTC has stepped in to stop people in the car business from declaring prices that are not readily accessible to the majority of the public. This is the only good measure that has come out of Washington in some time when it pertains to selling cars.
This measure, introduced in 2012 and implemented last year, prevents automotive advertising that declares unrealistic prices. For example, if a car is listed in an advertisement that includes a military discount that most people cannot take advantage of, they must declare the path to the price in their online and traditional advertising. Companies like Automark Solutions have built plugins to help the industry convert to this type of transparent pricing.
Measures like that make sense. What does not make sense is the influx of bills that push for medical pricing transparency that carry over into other industries. Don’t get me wrong. The healthcare system is broken despite claims from other conservative blogs and Obamacare is not the answer. However, the idea that pricing transparency in medical should spill over to include the cost of the plastic to make the bottles is asinine.
Please understand that we are not anti-consumer. In fact, we believe that the internet has been a tremendous tool for educating people about what they buy. However, there’s a difference between education and mandates. If consumer groups spent more of their time building information models rather than lobbying Washington, we would actually support their cause. People aren’t stupid despite what liberals want us to think. We do not need the government to save us from ourselves. We need the people to use their abilities to keep us all informed about what we’re buying. The government does not need to play a part in this.