1/04/2007

01-04-07 - 2

Some quick thoughts :

Talking to my brother the economist, & reading the NYT Business section & the Economist, it makes me realize how completely out of touch these business guys are with reality. They generally cling to this religious belief in efficient exchanges and the glory of capitalism, and fail to acknowledge the many severe ways in which real markets are not ideal. For example, they pretty much all believe that profit-taking does not drive up costs & hurt the lower class, which is insane.

Similarly, it's occurred to me that people starting business now are very different than they were 50 years ago. People starting businesses now want to "go big" and get out of the business in 2-5 years and have it run itself or sell it. They understand marketing and scale and buzz and all that. 50 years ago you would start a business with the minimum capital possible, and the idea was to work in it yourself and have it as your job for the rest of your life, and to pass it on to your family. I think mainly this change is a symptom of the growing gulf between the rich and poor (and also the propensity of dumb rich people to pay 5X what they should if something is branded cleverly; currently if you stamp "sustainable" on something morons will shell out).

A big problem with medical establishment is that they intentionally keep information from consumers. They hide complaints & suits against doctors so you can't really judge the performance of your doctor. They hide their costs, charging wildly different amounts to different people and never giving you estimates up front. If they fail to cure you or mess up in surgery, they generally try to keep it from you, and still charge you for the services. Worst of all, they intentionally keep information away from the consumer about how to treat things, what the right treatments are, what the side effects are, etc. It would be very easy to provide this information, and they intentionally don't, because you could easily know more than your doctor about your illness, and they don't want that. Basically if you imagine everything that crooked mechanics do that you hate, doctors do all those things and worse.

I got another scam letter that tries to look like an official Honda letter offering me a warranty extension, but it's some random company and clearly a rip off. I wondered, who decides to start a business running scams like this? And instantly realized it's really not very far off from almost every business which tries to dupe consumers and get them to overpay for things they don't need.

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old rants