Dear X, I asked you to answer three yes/no questions in order to pin you down to one clear position, namely, in your view, either

(1) libertarians believe that consumer protection legislation is not needed because the market will always sufficiently protect people, or

(2) libertarians believe that consumer protection legislation is sometimes needed because the market will not always sufficiently protect people, or

(3) libertarians believe that while the market will not always protect people there should still not be consumer protection legislation and instead we should live in a “let the buyer beware” sort of world.

You dodged all three questions.

Instead, you went into a long ramble about consumer protection legislation always being a balancing of the risk of harm versus the cost and availability of products. Yes, of course. Everyone knows that. Duh!

Then, apparently attempting to justify no consumer protection laws, you repeated the same old libertarian nonsense: “If you determine that some product is defective then you’re perfectly free not to buy it.”

That’s the exactly the libertarian fantasy my column called out, namely, the consumer can’t avoid defective products that the buyer doesn’t know are defective.

Someone who understood how real markets work in the real world would understand that by now without my having to continuously point it out to him.

From your statement about people being able to protect themselves by simply not buying defective products I have to infer that you think we should all be forced to live in a “let the buyer beware world.” If you don’t like the inference you shouldn’t have dodged the questions.

Here’s the fact of life you’re not getting: the decision about whether or not the benefit of a consumer protection law outweighs the burden belongs to the consumers of that product, not you.

If a large number of consumers don’t want to take the risk that their children will be sickened or killed by contaminated food then you don’t get to say, “The government should not be allowed to pass food service regulations because that will make it harder for me to eat a wider variety of cheap street food.”

You don’t get to decide if my kids are maybe going to be sickened or killed by contaminated food. You don’t get to make that call for them or for me.

You finally say that “yes,” there needs to be some regulation but that the consumers affected by the potential bad products should not be the ones making that decision.

In your view airline travelers should not be allowed to lobby for legislation governing how airlines treat them. Credit card users should have no right to press for legislation governing how issuing banks treat them. Why?

Because you say because they aren’t smart enough to really understand the effects of such laws. Your elitism is showing.

So, if the insurance industry often takes a year to pay a claim, policy holders should not be allowed to lobby legislators to require carriers to pay or deny a claim within three months because, in your view, they’re too stupid to understand the consequences of such a law.

Instead you say that only taxpayers should be in charge of enacting laws and that power should be dependent on how much they pay in taxes. You believe that people’s intelligence is proportional to how much they pay in taxes. I’m petty sure that’s not factually true.

In your view poor people don’t deserve any voice in the government. If I don’t pay a lot of taxes then I don’t get a say. I just suck it while rich people who pay a lot of taxes get to make all the laws.

That’s your great plan?

Government by wealth? The more taxes you pay the more control of the government you ought to have? You think that’s a good idea. Hmmmmm, yes you sure are a pragmaist.

If your goal is government by wealth, why not just give everyone a number of votes proportional to much in taxes they pay? For every, what?, $10,000 a person pays in taxes he/she could get one vote so the more taxes you pay the more power you get over how the country is run.

Wow. What a great idea, NOT.

Yes, you’re certainly a pragmatist.

You say that if each taxpayer decides how much money which government agency will get then those taxpayers will control which laws are passed or repealed.

Hello! Government agencies cannot not pass or repeal legislation.

Here’s a primer for you:

1. Laws are enacted by both houses of congress and signed by the president. They are not enacted out of the blue by government agencies.

2. Once a law is enacted, the agency specifically authorized by the legislation to enforce the law can make limited regulations as authorized by that law to flesh out the specific directives of the law.

3. Agencies are not equipped or authorized to either investigate whether a whole new law is needed nor to enact an entirely new law no matter how much or how little tax money is in that agency’s bank account.

You can give the EPA all the money in the world but that won’t get a single new pollution law adopted (or repealed) because the EPA has no system of guidance about what laws to adopt or any mechanism or authority to do so.

Even if an agency had the power to themselves create new legislation their just having a big pile of money wouldn’t tell them what legislation to enact or repeal.

Has it occurred to you that it would require a massive rewriting of the Constitution to enact such a completely new system of government? And you think you’re a pragmatist?

Your idea that once the EPA has a lot of money that it will automatically become some kind of a think tank and on its own it will figure out what laws to make and then enact and enforce them, all without the guidance of the stupid citizens who will be affected by those laws is beyond any rational comprehension.

You think it would be a good idea to vest all legislative power into the hands of appointed bureaucrats whose budgets were controlled in proportion to the wealth of the citizens? Gee, what could go wrong with that?

And apparently you believe that until the Constitution is rewritten to place legislative power in the hands of the appointed bureaucracy funded in proportion to the wealth of the citizens (including the very corporations that the agency would be expected to regulate) instead of elected representatives, we should just live in a “let the buyer beware world.”

And you think you’re a pragmatist?

I’m done with you.

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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