To the People

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Boy Behind the Juice Box: "I make bad purchases all the time"

Ezra Klein interviews Rep. Paul Ryan, in what works out to be a pretty good exchange between the two on health care. You should read it.

I'll only excerpt one exchange between the two that produces a great line where Ezra Klein admits he's too stupid to make his own consumer decisions. And he thinks we are too..I guess:

Ezra -- You’re arguing that the benefits of competition accrue, and so even if you don’t choose at the moment of emergency, there’s still an effect from a higher-functioning market.

Ryan -- Absolutely. I don’t know anything about cars. I look at Consumer Reports and their ratings. What matters is that someone who knows about cars went and figured this out. The car company is competing for the really tough customer who goes under the hood. I’m not saying every American has to be that consumer. But enough people have to so the rest of us can benefit.

Ezra -- But take cars. Lots of people buy crappy cars, or bad televisions. I make bad purchases all the time. Liberals and conservatives are together on the publishing of quality metrics. But this stuff is more complicated and diffuse than cars. That’s not to say the consumer shouldn't’t have a role. I’m a big Wyden-Bennett guy, frankly.
I wouldn't be bragging that I'm too lazy to do consumer research on expensive products I buy. I also disagree with the notion that lots of people buy crappy cars. Most cars that are built today are not shitty cars. They may be cheap, but they aren't crappy. Or that people who do buy the crappy cars that are out there, are unaware that they are buying crappy cars.

I would hazard a guess that most people who buy crappy cars are doing so because 1) They can not afford a "good" car. 2) They choose to spend their available capital on something other than a good car. Also, it's not my responsibility to subsidize second chances for stupid consumers. I'll emphasis it for Klein. He seems to miss this point regularly.

At what point do we stop taking the guy who's been outfoxed by netflix so seriously?

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