Saturday, May 17, 2003

Germany Awakens?

Forty Years of Protecting the Stupid

By Rainer Hank
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Germany celebrates 40 years of consumer protection. But not everything deserves praise just because it has an anniversary. The roots of consumer protection lie in the paternalistic state: Those who are dumb need protection. A consumer protection minister oversees these issues. And citizens put up with the fact that their taxes pay for this loss of personal sovereignty.
Yet what's labeled consumer protection is often actually producer protection. Professional certificates, import restrictions on agricultural products - all those measures also make products dearer.
What really helps consumers are open markets where competition ensures that privileged providers lose their power. The media can also help because they provide consumers with more information and transparency than consumer protection regulations.

One thing is for sure, though: There's no need for the government to get involved.

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