Monday, May 18, 2009

Several thousand were to me...

Lest you think government can't get anything right, this encouraging news.
A federal judge has issued two temporary restraining orders designed to stop what officials describe as a wave of deceptive "robo-calls" warning people their auto warranties are expiring and offering to sell them new service plans.
"Today the FTC has disconnected the people responsible for so many of these annoying calls," Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said Friday.
"We expect to see a dramatic decrease in the number of deceptive auto warranty calls, but we are still on high alert," Leibowitz said in a statement posted on the agency's Web site.
The FTC filed suit against two companies and their executives on Thursday, asking a federal court in Chicago to halt a wave of as many as 1 billion automated, random, prerecorded calls and freeze the assets of the companies.
Officials say the calls have targeted consumers regardless of whether they have warranties or even own cars and ignore the Do Not Call registry. They say telemarketers have misrepresented service agreements consumers have to buy for warranties that come with the price of the car. [More]

More interestingly, in this era of deabte over the role of government, how would limited-government backers approach this problem?  Or would they consider it a problem?  Is it free enterprise, and simply a cost of owning a phone?


Anonymous said...

There is a big difference in regulating scam telemarketers and the government taking over the health care system. Be realistic.


John Phipps said...


The question was not an allusion to health care, but simply what it asked. Actually some libertarian commentators did not like the ruling.

Being realistic in my book does not mean calling health care reform such as universal access "taking over the health care system".

Your point is taken, but regulating health insurance seems to be modestly similar to regulating telephone solicitation - a legitimate place for government oversight.

The degree of each will be determined by the politics of the moment.

Anonymous said...

I just picked health care as an example. It puzzles me how these libertarian commentators you refer to would be against this. These people are scamming the public and it is the govmints job to stop them. Still seems a lot different than regulating and dictating to insurance companies to me.

No matter what we want to call it, single payer, universal access, reform, super duper overhaul snazzafraz we are headed for government run health care. Not a matter of IF but WHEN.


Anonymous said...

John, I have to take your side on this one. I think the point you were trying to make is that when someone takes such a position, it is not an absolute. There is a point in the sand where most people flip from being anti to for. Those "libertarians" who rail against government intervention have a hard time admitting some intervention is a good thing.

I liken it to the abortion debate. Those who are pro-choice do so because they give no civil rights to an unborn fetus. So in my mind there are really only two defensible positions....totally against it or allow it up until the cord is cut. Anything in between is totally subjective. As soon as you draw that line in the sand that abortion is OK before, let's say, 8 weeks, then what has changed in that 1 day, or 1 hour, or 1 minute since you cross this threshold? Very little.

So it is the same with government intervention or anything else. Where is that line to be drawn? Someone who rails totally against it sometimes do not know what they are asking for.

Keep up the interesting analogies. They are fun to read!

Anonymous said...

Many of the problems with health care costs today are because of the existing government intervention via medicare and medicaid. In these programs, the government mandates that say 50% of a certain procedure will be covered. The provider then doubles the charge so that the 50% will equal the true cost of the procedure. If we consumed health care like we consume farm inputs, the best, low cost doctors would soon differentiate themselves. Granted, you don't have much bargaining power after a car wreck or heart attach. However, most of the medical care we get is by choice and government regulation of insurance carriers and medical providers has significantly upped the cost. Frivolous malpractice suits would be another culprit of high health care costs. States with liability limits on medical providers have lower health insurance premiums because medical costs are lower because doctors don't have to spend a lot of your money covering their butts in case of a lawsuit.