I think what you meant to say in your first paragraph was that you think I believe that for markets to automatically protect consumers from bad products most consumers would have to be knowledgeable about every product and service they purchase.
No. What I said was that the market cannot theoretically be relied on to alone protect consumers from bad products for many reasons, and that one of those reasons is that it is impossible for more than a small percentage of consumers to be knowledgeable about even a small fraction of the products and services they purchase. I said that therefore those uninformed consumers are unable to sufficiently exploit the theoretical power of the market to deter or avoid bad products, thus requiring consumer protection legislation to pick up the slack to protect them.
I also said that even if most consumers did possess that degree of knowledge, for the numerous other reasons I cited, in many cases the market alone cannot and does not protect the consumer from bad products and services, leaving legislation to pick up the slack.
I’m only interested in dealing with the column I actually wrote, not some other theoretical topics you may want to talk about.
The point of my column was that while markets work some of the time to a greater or lesser degree they are not so perfect as to obviate the need for consumer protection laws.
Do you agree that it is a fundamental libertarian belief that consumer protection laws are not needed because libertarians believe that the market will protect consumers from bad products, abusive terms, and excessive prices without legislative intervention, yes or no?
Or, do you contend that libertarians generally agree that the market alone is not sufficient to protect consumers from bad products and that if consumers are to be protected then legislation is needed to do so, yes or no?
I gave many examples and reasons why in the real world the market alone is not sufficient to always protect consumers and that if consumers are to be protected then legislation is needed to do so.
Or, are you saying that it is a general libertarian position that to the extent that the market does not protect consumers that it should be a let the buyer beware world and that they should just have to live with the defective products and abusive terms because that is better than the alternative of legislative regulation, yes or no?
You said that we cannot test out positions in the real world. We do that every day because we live in a world where we can compare business activities, products and terms with and without regulation.
I’m concerned with how real people are treated in the real economy by real industries — banks, insurance companies, communications companies, large manufacturers, medical products suppliers, credit card companies, transportation companies, and the like.
Markets work very well, OK, poorly, and not at all to deliver good, safe, useful products and services at reasonable prices and on fair terms depending on all kinds of factors — the product, the industry, the level of competition, the bargaining power of the sellers versus that of the buyers and many other factors.
Is it a general libertarian belief that markets will automatically solve all problems with shoddy products, defective products, dangerous products, and abusive terms without government regulation?
I gave many real-world reasons in my column why if that is the libertarian theory that it is factually untrue.
If it’s your position that most libertarians agree that markets don’t always promptly and efficiently protect consumers and therefore most libertarians agree that consumer protection legislation is therefore needed to close those gaps then we are on the same page.
If you agree with my contention that most libertarians believe that markets will always or almost always solve all problems with regard to defective products, unsafe products, excessive prices, and abusive terms and that therefore legislation is not needed to deal with those issues, then say that.
It you contend that as a general matter most libertarians believe that the market will not always promptly eliminate defective, dangerous, shoddy products and abusive terms but that it ought to be a buyer beware world and the consumer should just have to live with the consequences, then say that.