Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Consumer Party


The largest, under-represented group in the United States are consumers. There are 313 million consumers in the US and very few politicians speak for them. A common view of the the current 2-party system is Democrats speak for unions, and sometimes (rarely I'd argue) for all workers. Republicans speak for Big Business, and sometimes (rarely I'd argue) for small businesses. Yes yes yes, there are times when the parties claim to speak for consumers. You may be thinking of the FDA. But the FDA does a very good job of keeping drugs and devices off the market, to the detriment of consumers. The FDA, like many protective schemes of the government is a paternalistic, "let us smart people tell you poor dumb consumers what you can and can not buy." That's not pro-consumer, in my view.

There is no party whose focus is on improving the lot of consumers. There are very few writers espousing the cause of the consumer. Yet, there are more consumers, 313 million, then there are workers, 155 million, more consumers than there are union members, 14.8 million, more consumers than number of businesses, 5.8 million.

A pro-consumer party would view the world through the lens of policy's impact on the ability of a consumer to buy something cheaper, more conveniently and with greater choice. A policy that restricts choice is anti-consumer. A policy that expands choice is pro-consumer.

What does the Consumer Party think of outsourcing? If it lowers prices for consumers we like outsourcing.

What does the Consumer Party think of the Affordable Care Act? It restricts choice. We don't like it.

What does the Consumer Party think of hydraulic fracturing? It results in lower energy prices and cleaner energy sources. We like it.

What does the Consumer Party think of the bail outs of GM, Chrysler and the big banks? It propped up inefficient organizations, restricted trade and choice. We are against those bail-outs.

What do we think of farm subsidies? We are opposed. It increases our taxes, reducing our income, resulting in lower purchasing power and distorts the choices we have and prices we pay for food. We are opposed.

What do we think of the Export/Import Bank? It subsidizes some companies over others, helping the well-off and well-connected, and hurting alternatives that would increase choice and lower prices for consumers. We are opposed.

The Consumer Party is the party of the poor. The rich have plenty of choices and plenty of ways to satisfy their needs. But the poor have less choice, less resources and benefit much more from lower prices and richer choices.


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and Enjoyable Post. A couple points I'd like to add.

    What does the consumer party think of reforming tax policy so the rich pay a greater share, specifically with regard to carried interest? If taxes on the middle and lower classes go down they support it.

    What does the consumer party think of big defense spending? If it increases our debt and hurts programs that directly help consumers, then they do not support it.

    I think you make a great point, and I'm in favor of many of the points above (notable exception is Consumers not being in favor of the portions of the ACA about regarding 26 year old dependents and pre-existing conditions).

    I also agree that consumers are under represented. That said, democracy by the popular vote would almost certainly result in a worse system. The masses when left to their own devices will choose to punish minorities... Would consumers endorse an act forcing all small retail businesses to take on significant expense to accommodate 0.6 percent of the population? Probably not, but I don't think anyone is suggesting we get rid of the ADA (Save Ron Paul).