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Bash government instead of corporations

Letter from Lindell Cline

Colorado Central – December 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

To the Editors:

I was disappointed but not all that surprised to see the amount of corporate bashing in your November issue, or people urging us to vote for Ralph Nader, who has made a career out of corporate bashing.

Will corporations rip you off? Yes, if you allow them to, but as long as there is sufficient competition it is very difficult for them to rip off informed consumers. Even with such basics as electricity or heating fuel there are generally other alternatives available, such as the Quillens’ trade of magazines for firewood or Slim Wolfe’s solar generating system. Even when you must buy from a particular company, it is almost always because the government has limited or prevented competition.

Corporations can’t force you to buy or pay for their products or services or control how you use them. They may advise you on how to use them, but they can’t fine or jail you for misusing them or for using products of which they disapprove. Corporations don’t pass 220 pages of new regulations every work day. I haven’t seen any contests to find corporations’ stupidest laws. Corporations don’t jail you and try you for something you did not do, leaving you depending on a jury to look for the truth.

Do corporations produce unsafe products? Perhaps, depending on your definition of unsafe, but corporations have a far greater stake in product safety than does the government.

Corporations are quite reasonably reluctant to install safety devices if there is not sufficient consumer demand for them. They are also quite reasonably reluctant to accept liability for problems or perceived problems with products that have already been manufactured. Things that in most cases were considered acceptable risks, by the manufacturers, by the government, and by the vast majority of consumers, until some shyster lawyer convinced a jury it was not an acceptable risk or until some self-appointed journalist out looking for a story convinced the public it was not an acceptable risk.

Virtually all safety advances have been initiated voluntarily by one manufacturer or another and have then been forced on the rest of industry by the government, even though in all probability they wouldn’t have needed to have been forced. Government safety regulations, far more than anything else, are simply a way for the government to take the credit for things that were happening anyway.

Do corporations pollute or otherwise harm the environment? Yes, but not nearly as badly as in countries where industry is under total or near total government control. Even is this country the bulk of the most dangerously polluted areas were polluted either directly by the government or by companies under direct government contract — and one would think — government supervision.

If you really believe the government will do a better job than free enterprise then you should move to North Korea, Iraq, Sudan, Haiti, or some other country where the government has plenty of authority — and one would think — plenty of opportunity to help or protect you. Then you can see for yourself just how much help or protection you will really get from a government that controls industry.

Lindell Cline

Buena Vista